105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: A Poem of Pronunciation

If you are looking for a way to be more connected to other kidlit bloggers, I can suggest no easier starting point than Poetry Friday. Started over five years ago, the meme host changes every week with the schedule available at KidLitosphere Central. The rotation allows more contributors to feature their site while sharing the workload of the event. Bloggers share original poems, reviews of poetry books, reviews of poetic picture books, links to poems at copyright protected sites, thoughts about poetry, poem writing tips, and more. Then the participants link to the host, submit their own link, and follow the other links to their heart's content.

Today I have a tricky poem from The Poke that you can only appreciate if you read it aloud - if you can:
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
The rest of the lengthy verse is here for a little English language fun, but honestly I couldn't make it even this far without getting caught up in the pronunciation. How did you do? The Poetry Friday round-up hosted at Wild Rose Reader.


Annie said...

I loved it! I have a friend who constantly mispronounces words! AHHH! It's like fingernails on a blackboard!

tanita✿davis said...

I blogged about this very poem randomly in December on our family blog, and got into a fun discussion on it - the author was Dutch, and one of our readers is, and another is married to an Englishman, so our pronunciation arguments got funnier from there. I can get through the whole thing, but it's fairly thorny at some points. And I still don't see where parquet rhymes with khaki. Not in any world I inhabit.

Linda B said...

Oh, my, how do those with English as a second language ever cope? What an amazing group of words. Thank you for sharing! I'm already trying to think of other words that fit!

GatheringBooks said...

My ten year old daughter has a slight lisp - her 's' sounds like 'th' - we will definitely get a kick out of reading this one aloud. I love it! Thank you for sharing. :)

david elzey said...

i was in my early 20s when i came across a dr. seuss collection (pre-children's books) where he would illustrate such tongue twisters. it was called the tough coughs as he ploughs the dough and i think i hurt myself laughing at his pointing out how absurd it would be to say "the tough cuffs as he pluffs the duff."

anyway, thanks (?) for jogging that memory.

jama said...

What a mouthful! Lots of fun. Thanks for sharing this one. :)

Unknown said...

The Poke? Interesting title. Like the first few lines especially.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Fun - though I did have to look up "ague"
and great advice about Poetry Friday, too!
thanks, Mother Reader!

Mary Lee said...

Every time I read this, my heart goes out to the English Language Learners in my classroom. English is so unpredictable!

Marjorie said...

I LOVE this poem - I used to use it with my English students in Italy (advanced classes - I didn't want to put them off completely!). And I love the sound of that Dr Seuss book mentioned by David.

Tara said...

This was fun to read - a challenge!

Amy L V said...

This is so funny...we read it the other week and had a blast trying to get through it! It's amazing that children ever learn to spell at all in this language. Thank you for the shout out to Poetry Friday and for the Comment Challenge too! a.

Anonymous said...

Wowzers! That was awesome...thanks for sharing it!

JenFW said...

Too fun! I'm with Tanita on the parquet and khaki.

Mary Lee mentions how unpredictable English is. She's right, of course, but I wonder if it's more unpredictable than other languages. I've been learning Spanish, and I find it somewhat unpredictable, too.

Joanna said...

Great fun reading this aloud. :)

Joanna said...

Jen, Spanish and the other European languages I know are strongly phonetic languages and so, yes, predictable. If I come across a new word in those languages I know how to pronounce it, not so with many new English words. Grammar, of course, is a different issue ;)

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I can not tell a lie...first I read it to myself and thought what's the big deal. Then I read it out loud and it felt like a tongue twister.


Mrs. Silverstein said...

It's fun to try to run through this at speed and see where even words you know trip you up--it's almost like it's part optical illusion!

Anonymous said...

This blog sounds quite interesting. I was searching this kind of information. I will share this information with my friends.

Miranda Paul said...

How fun! Going to share this with my students. :) :)

Sandy Brehl said...

Better late than never to chime in.
I like to say English is a dirty, rotten, troublemaking language when it comes to spelling and reading, but is the richest and wildest and wooliest when it comes to speaking, thinking,and writing.

Here's my offering on the subject:


It would be nice
To spell “precise”
With i-c-e
Instead, although it seems absurd,
To spell “precise”, a perfect word,
With i-s-e, which looks like “wise”,
“Precise” won’t rhyme with “compromise”.
Take my advice,
When words aren’t nice:
Notice, practice, more than twice-
That’s the way to spell “precise”

Darlena O. said...

Thanks so much for posting this. It's a big help to new bloggers! Plus the poem is hilarious.

Darlena O.


Patricia T. said...

This was fun. My father used to mispronounce words and I would correct him -- as a kid it really embarrassed me. He had a college degree, but held onto what he heard from home. Now I have great fun remembering some of the words.

Rena J. Traxel said...

I got to line four. What a fun poem!