Translation and Language Jokes
– Poems proving English should never have been invented
Ode to a Spell Chequer
I have a spelling chequer
It came with my PC
It plainly marks for my revue
miss takes I cannot see
I’ve run this poem threw it
I’m shore your pleased two no
its letter perfect in its weigh
my chequer tolled me sew.
English is a Crazy Language
by Richard Lederer
Let’s face it: English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
And while no one knows what is in a hotdog,
you can be pretty sure it isn’t canine.
English muffins were not invented in England
nor French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads,
which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write,
but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce,
and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth,
why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese?
Is cheese the plural of choose?
One mouse, 2 mice.
One louse, 2 lice.
One house, 2 hice ?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat?
Why do people recite at a play, and play at a recital?
Ship by truck or car and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
Park on driveways and drive on parkways?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
How can the weather be hot as Hell one day
and cold as Hell another?
When a house burns up, it burns down.
You fill in a form by filling it out
and an alarm clock goes off by going on.
You get in and out of a car,
yet you get on and off a bus.
When the stars are out, they are visible,
but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it,
but when I wind up this essay, I end it?
English is a silly language …
it doesn’t know if it is coming or going !!
English is Tough Stuff (Chaos)
By Gerard Nolst Trenité (see note below)
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.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough —
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!
Extraxct from a message received concerning the author :
Dear John Lejderman,
The author of `English Is Tough Stuff’ is Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), a Dutch teacher, who wrote under the pen name of `Charivarius’. The poem you have included on your web page was published in the textbook *Drop Your Foreign Accent. Engelsche Uitspraakoefeningen*. [*Drop Your Foreign Accent. English Pronunciation Exercises*] …..
The actual title of the poem is ‘De Chaos’, which (would you believe it) is Dutch for ‘The Chaos’…
Arnold J Kreps