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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE CHAOS (ðə ˈkeɪɒs)

It's always a blessing to learn something new, may it be as life-changing as discovering your true calling or as trivial as knowing why Bluetooth is called as such. And while many of us sometimes get temporarily blinded when we find ourselves caught up in life's noise and haste, there's still a "chaos" that is worth getting a glimpse of.

I'm talking about "The Chaos," a poem "demonstrating the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation" written by Dutch poet Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), under the pen name Charivarius. It first served as the appendix to his textbook's fourth edition in 1920, Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen (English pronunciation exercises), but is now known to have a dozen versions. 

I'm no native English speaker, so I can absolutely say that this poem is a revelation -- that the pronunciations of words I thought were correct are actually incorrect, like of the word "indict" and the others in blue text color. So for the fun of it, I'm challenging you to read this "modernized, abbreviated version" of the original poem aloud, then check if your pronunciations are right by watching the YouTube video below. Let's see how you will fare. photo gdance_zps4f282866.gif

The Chaos
by Gerard Nolst Trenite
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, Susy, 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 say 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 it up!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


"No one has seen that island since, and you'd never read about those trees in any book. And yet, if I hadn't found those shores I would have died, if I hadn't discovered that tooth I would have been lost alone forever. Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, he was watching. Even when He seemed indifferent to my suffering, He was watching and when I was beyond all hope of saving... He gave me rest and gave me a sign to continue my journey...."-- Pi Patel, Life of Pi

                 I was once told that God gives us burdens in life because He knows too well that we can triumph over them. And that the heavier the cross you carry, the stronger person you are. So when you feel life’s beating you so hard, it only means He trusts you that much.
            There are times when it seems like He just keeps on presenting us one adversity after another, testing the limits of our faith and pushing us beyond our fortitude. And as humans, it is not easy not to lose hope, not to waver in believing, and not to be tired of fighting when we’re confronted by ostensibly never-ending hardships, that we sometimes wonder if God still sees us and cares for us. Because if He does, why would He allow us to suffer too much?
            I think it is safe to say that I have had my “fair” share of trials, with pains and tears plaguing my every battle. And I’d be honest in saying that there were moments when I thought of giving up, to just let myself be drowned in fear, despondency, and frustration. But despite this, I have always felt His loving guidance, and have always known in my heart that He’s been there all along, watching me closely. It was just me who failed to acknowledge the strength He has provided me with.
            Now that I'm going through another storm, although it may seem ironic, I can feel that He has let this be my "rest," which I do have to move on from after. I know, whatever headwinds I have yet to conquer, He will always find a way to show me that He will always be there. I just have to have greater faith in Him. photo amen.gif