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December 21, 2009


The perils of English pronunciation: O-U-G-H

by quaesitor

Thanks to the ever wonderful Futility Closet, here is a sure and trusty guide for those learning English as a second language, by a sadly forgotten American genius, Charles Battell Loomis:

I’m taught p-l-o-u-g-h
Shall be pronouncé “plow.”
“Zat’s easy w’en you know,” I say,
“Mon Anglais, I’ll get through!”

My teacher say zat in zat case,
O-u-g-h is “oo.”
And zen I laugh and say to him,
“Zees Anglais make me cough.”

He say, “Not ‘coo,’ but in zat word,
O-u-g-h is ‘off.’”
Oh, Sacre bleu! Such varied sounds
Of words makes me hiccough!

He say, “Again mon frien’ ees wrong;
O-u-g-h is ‘up’
In hiccough.” Zen I cry, “No more,
You make my t’roat feel rough.”

“Non, non!” he cry, “you are not right;
O-u-g-h is ‘uff.’”
I say, “I try to spik your words,
I cannot spik zem though.”

“In time you’ll learn, but now you’re wrong!
O-u-g-h is ‘owe.’”
“I’ll try no more, I s’all go mad,
I’ll drown me in ze lough!”

“But ere you drown yourself,” said he,
“O-u-g-h is ‘ock.’”
He taught no more, I held him fast,
And killed him wiz a rough!

Charles Battell Loomis (1861-1911)

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. hugh
    Dec 23 2009

    And the rough coated dough faced ploughman strode coughing and hiccoughing through the streets of Scarborough.

  2. Christian
    Jan 8 2010

    And ghoti is the new fish.


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