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Only 10 Per Cent Of People In The World Can Pronounce Every Word In This Poem

Only 10 Per Cent Of People In The World Can Pronounce Every Word In This Poem

Have you ever heard someone say that English is the hardest language to learn and thought 'yeah, whatever mate'? Well now it makes perfect sense.

Ask yourself this - why does 'done' rhyme with 'fun' but doesn't rhyme with 'gone'? Just to mess with our brains probably.

But now this poem has put it all into context - and it's been around for an entire century, you'd have thought we'd seen it by now.


The Chaos has become a favourite for English teachers worldwide for its tendency to trip up the reader.

The poem, written by Gerard Nolst Trenite in 1920, includes around 800 examples of irregular spelling. According to Meaww, 90 per cent of people struggle to pronounce every word.

And here it is - read it as quickly as you can. Good luck:

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,


I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

It will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;

Tear in eye your dress you'll tear.
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it?


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!)


Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,

But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak,

Previous, precious; fuchsia, via;
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,


Cloven, oven; how and low;
Script, receipt; shoe, poem, toe,

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid; measles, topsails, aisles;
Exiles, similes, reviles;

Wholly, holly; signal, signing;
Thames; examining, combining;

Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From "desire": desirable-admirable from "admire";
Lumber, plumber; bier but brier;

Chatham, brougham; renown but known,
Knowledge; done, but gone and tone,

One, anemone; Balmoral;
Kitchen, lichen; laundry, laurel;

Gertrude, German; wind and mind;
Scene, Melpomene, mankind;

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.

This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;

Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rhyme with "darky".

Viscous, viscount; load and broad;
Toward, to forward, to reward,

And your pronunciation's O.K.
When you say correctly croquet;

Rounded, wounded; grieve and sieve;
Friend and fiend; alive and live;

Liberty, library; heave and heaven;
Rachel, ache, moustache; eleven.

We say hallowed, but allowed;
People, leopard; towed, but vowed

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Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,

Leeches, breeches; wise, precise;
Chalice but police and lice.

Camel; constable, unstable;
Principle, disciple; label;

Petal, penal and canal;
Wait, surmise, plait, promise; pal.

Suit, suite, run, circuit, conduit
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it",

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular; gaol; iron;
Timber, climber; bullion, lion,

Worm and storm; chaise, chaos, chair;
Senator, spectator, mayor.

Ivy, privy; famous, clamour
And enamour rhyme with "hammer."

Pussy, hussy and possess.
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf; countenance; lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival; tomb, bomb, comb;
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt, 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 and gauge;
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,

Seat, sweat, chaste, caste; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, but unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with "deafer,"
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull; Geoffrey, George; ate, late;
Hint, pint; senate, but sedate;

Scenic, Arabic, pacific;
Science, conscience, scientific;

Tour, but our, and succour, four;
Gas, alas and Arkansas!

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm; Maria, but malaria;

Youth, south, southern; cleanse and clean;
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,

Sally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess-it is not safe;
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf!

Heron; granary, canary;
Crevice, and device, and eyrie;

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic; ass, glass, bass;

Large, but target, gin, give, verging;
Ought, out, joust and scour, but 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; clerk and jerk;
Asp, 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 groats?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict!

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rhymes with "enough,"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of "cup"......
My advice is-give it up!

Congrats if you got this far without going sitting in a dark room. You're winning at life. Only joking - you're weird.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Interesting, Community, Weird

Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]