If you can pronounce every word in this poem, you speak better English than 90 percent of the people

The poem titled 'The Chaos' was written to demonstrate the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation


                            If you can pronounce every word in this poem, you speak better English than 90 percent of the people

English can be a tricky language. You might think you have mastered it since you speak the language and write in English almost every day but, trust us, this poem is going to make you question your mastery of the language.

We often find it hard to say a word in a language that we don't know but it does not get any easier with this poem either. The poem titled 'The Chaos' was written to demonstrate the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation. It was written by a Dutch writer, traveler, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité. Undoubtedly, Gerard became famous for his English exercise which makes it hard for people to believe that sometimes English can be as confusing as any other language. 

The first version with 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to the author's 1920 textbook 'Drop Your Foreign Accent: Engelsche uitspraakoefeningen' (iStock)
The first version with 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to the author's 1920 textbook 'Drop Your Foreign Accent: Engelsche uitspraakoefeningen' (iStock)

The poem includes about 800 examples of irregular spelling. The first version with 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to the author's 1920 textbook 'Drop Your Foreign Accent: Engelsche uitspraakoefeningen'.

However, to make it more challenging for people and also giving them a chance to have fun while saying out the words out loud, the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge was published by the Spelling Society in 1993–94. It has a total of 274 lines. 

Some of the people who have tried reading the poem out loud have found it difficult to pronounce every word correctly. However, some thought that they have got it. "Yes, I did it! I am way too proud of this. I admit I stumbled a bit. I kept thinking that it was going to end, and it just kept going! I pronounced everything pretty good. I read it in my mind, I did not want to say it out loud;I felt that would be too easy. However, some of the words I have never heard of before, so I guessed. Damn, that really shows how freaking hard English is. As a native speaker, I have a newfound respect for those who are learning it," wrote one.

However, some had an interesting question for people who thought that they got it right. All these people saying they can pronounce it all - how do you know that?" questioned one, while another added, "How would I know I speak them correctly?" 

If you think you can master this, give it a try and read the poem below:

 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, Suzy, 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 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.
Fe0ffer 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 up!!!