How does anyone ever learn English? I came across this poem in a magazine in the local surgery’s waiting room. If I’d written it, I wouldn’t choose to be anonymous. The poem-writer is, or was, very clever. Does anyone know its history?
The English Language
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! An now you wish, perhaps,
To learnof less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it’s said like bed, bot bead.
For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s does and rose and lose –Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cast –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I mastered it when I was five. ANON