Our Queer Language
I think you already know
Of TOUGH and BOUGH and COUGH and DOUGH,
Others may stumble, but not you
On HICCOUGH, THOROUGH, and THROUGH.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of new familiar traps?
Beware of HEARD, as a dreadful word
That looks like BEARD and sounds like BIRD.
And DEAD; it’s said like bed, not 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 on MOTHER
Nor BOTH in BOTHER or in BROTHER.
And HERE is not match for THERE.
Nor DEAR and FEAR for BEAR and PEAR.
And there are DOSE 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 CART –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I’d mastered it when I was five.
What words have almost the same spelling but have different pronunciation? What do these words reveal about the English language?
Why is English a queer language?