I was exchanging tweets with someone last week who was French and learning English. Seeing a fractured, but still perfectly understandable, sentence on the screen filled me new respect for anyone who conquers English as a second language.
I then remembered a poem that I read in my little gem of a notebook (which I still know nothing further about) and I’d like to give you another extract from it.
The Vagaries of English
If you pronounce head, dead and bead,
You’ll find the last rhymes with deed.
And in this ‘poem’ you will find,
Many items of this kind.
Dear and fear but hear and bear,
Year and tear but ‘wear and tear’.
Yeast and least but pleased and pleasant,
Beast and breast and pease and peasant.
Meat and peat but sweat and great,
The last word rhymes with freight and weight.
Quite different again is height,
Which sounds like lite, indict and light.
The next line should be read with care,
The praying prayer says his prayer.
Bean and lean and mean and meant,
Note ‘g’ in get, gem and gent.
Vice but crevice – advice – device,
Lice but malice, police, concise.
We say dreamt but also dreamed,
The latter rhyming with esteemed.
Crew and blew and few but sew,
Cow and sow, but sow and row.
Measles does not sound like measure,
The same applies to treason, treasure.
Braid and maid and laid but said,
Treat but threat and thread and tread.
Asp and wasp and rasps all three,
Are all different in sound you see!