Many of you may have already read this poem. Although it was written in 1922, it recently spread across the Internet as a funny way to test your spoken English. It contains almost all the exceptions in the English pronunciation!
Its author, Gerard Nolst Trenité, was a Dutch teacher and linguist who tried to reflect the irregularities of the British-English pronunciation in a book called Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen.

Why do I retrieve this poem now? I recently moved to an English-speaking country. I soon realized that, especially when I am tired or rushed, I overlook my pronunciation and I drop the Spanish accent in the trickiest vowels.
I realized that I could practice by reading this poem aloud once a day. But I couldn’t, because… how do I pronounce ‘feoffer’? And ‘demesne’?

Here you will find the whole poem by Nolst Trenité. I also added the IPA transcription, so that you can practice while you read it without having to stop and look it up every time.
When I was smaller, I could not read the IPA key, but I always liked to make up the pronunciation of those letters, as I thought they would sound in real life. Sometimes it worked, so it looks that my intuition was right!

 

            The Chaos (1922)

 


   /ˈkriːtʃəʳ/        /kriːˈeɪʃən/       

Dearest creature in creation,       
                            /prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən/

Study English pronunciation.

                                          /v3ːs/         
I will teach you in my verse

                        /kɔːps/    /ˈkȯr/     /hɔːs/           /w3ːs/
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.    

 

                               /ˈSuzɪ/  /ˈbɪzɪ/
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,           

                       /hed/           /hiːt/           /ˈdɪzɪ/
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

 /tɪə/                                            /tɛə/
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.

 /kwiə/     /fɛə ‘siːə/      /hıə/         /prɛə/
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

 

/preı/    /kən’səʊl/                      /’pəʊıt/

Pray, console your loving poet,

                  /kəʊt/           /njuː/             /səʊ/
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

                            /hɑːt/     /bɪəd/                    /h3ːd/

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,  

/daɪs/     /ˈdaɪət/  /lɔːd/         /w3ːd/
Dies and diet, lord and word.

 

/sɔːd/              /swɔːd/     /rɪˈteɪn/                 /ˈbrɪtən/
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.    
                   /ˈlætəʳ/                   /ˈrɪtn/

(Mind the latter how it’s written.)          

 /meıd/                                        /bæd/

 Made has not the sound of bade,

 /seı/   /sɛd/
  /peı/  /peıd/   /leıd/        /plæd/

 Saysaidpaypaidlaid but plaid.

 


/ˈʃʊəlɪ/                              /pleɪg/

Now I surely will not plague you


/veıg/         /ˈeɪgjuː/

With such words as vague and ague.     
                                             /spiːk/     

But be careful how you speak:     
           /gʌʃ/   /bʊʃ/   /steık/    /striːk/    /breık/    /bliːk/

Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

 

/’priːvıəs/      /’prɛʃəs/      /’fjuːʃə/    /’vaıə/

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
/’rɛsipi/ /paıp/        /’stʌdnsəl/        /’kwaiə/

Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
/’wəʊvn/   /ˈʌvn/  /haʊ/          /ləʊ/

Woven, oven, how and low,
/skrɪpt/  /rɪˈsiːt/       /ʃuː/   /ˈpəʊɪm/        /təʊ/

Script, receipt, shoe, poem, and toe.

 

/seɪ/                                         /ˈtrɪkərɪ/

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
/ˈdɔːtəʳ/          /ˈlɑːftəʳ/                /təːpˈsɪkəɹi/

Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,

/brɑːnʧ/     /rɑːntʃ/    /miːzlz/      /ˈtɒpslz/   /ˈaılz/

Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,

/ˈmisailz/    /ˈsimiliz/    / riˈvailz/

Missiles,  similes, reviles.

 

/’həʊli/      /ˈhɒli/    /’sıgnl/    /’saınıŋ/

Whollyhollysignalsigning,

/seım/ /ıgˈzæmınıŋ/           /’maınıŋ/
Same, examining, but mining,
/ˈskɒlə/     /ˈvɪkə/           /sɪˈgɑː/

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
/ˈsəʊlə/ /ˈmaɪkə/ /wɔː/        /fɑː/

Solar, mica, war and far.

 


/dı’zaıə/   /dı’zaırəbl/        /’ædmırəbl/            /ædˈmaiə/

From “desire“: desirable  admirable from “admire“,

/’lʌmbə/     /’plʌmə/       /biə/          /’braıə/
Lumberplumberbier, but brier,

/ˈtɒpʃəm/      /’bruːm/           /rı’naʊn/            /nəʊn/
Topshambroughamrenown, but known,

/‘nɒlıʤ/             /dʌn/   /ləʊn/  /gɒn/   /nʌn/   /təʊn/
Knowledgedonelonegonenonetone,

           
/wʌn/   /əˈnemənɪ/  /bal-ˈmȯr-əl/

One, anemone, Balmoral,
/ˈkɪtʃɪn/     /ˈli.ken/    /ˈlɔːndrɪ/    /ˈlɒrəl/

Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
/’gɜːtruːd/     /ˈdʒ3ːmən/            /wɪnd/       /maɪnd/

Gertrude, German, wind and mind,        
/bəʊ/    /kaınd/  /‘kındrıd/  /kjuː/    /mænkˈaınd/

Beau, kind, kindred, queuemankind,

/’tɔːtəs/        /’tɜːkwɔız/         /ˈʃæmi ˈlɛðə/

Tortoiseturquoisechamoisleather,
/’riːdıŋ/        /’rɛdıŋ/        /’hiːðən/     /’hɛðə/

Reading, Readingheathenheather.
                             /’læbırınθ/

 This phonetic labyrinth
              /mɒs/   /grəʊs/ /brʊk/   /brəʊʧ/    /naınθ/    /plınθ/

 Gives mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.

                                    /ɛnˈdɛvəd/

Have you ever yet endeavoured

                            / riˈviəd/             /ˈsɛvəd/
To pronounce revered and severed,
 /‘diːmən/  /‘lɛmən/   /guːl/    /faʊl/   /səʊl/ 

Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
/’piːtə/     /’pɛtrəl/         /pə’trəʊl/  

 Peter, petrol and patrol?

 

/ˈbɪlɪt/                                   /ˈbæl.eɪ/

Billet does not end like ballet,
/boʊˈkeɪ/     /ˈwɒlɪt/  /ˈmælɪt/   /ʃæleɪ/    

Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.   
/blʌd/     /flʌd/                       /fuːd/

Blood and flood are not like food,           
             /məʊld/          /ʃʊd/        /wʊd/

Nor is mould like should and would.      

 /’bæŋkwıt/                           /pɑːki/

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
/ˈkɑːki/

Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
dıskaʊnt           /ˈvaɪkaʊnt/         /ləʊd/   /brɔːd/

Discount, viscount, load and broad,
/təˈwɔːd/          /ˈfɔːwəd/                    /rɪˈwɔːd/   

Toward, to forward, to reward.

/ˈrıkəʃeıd/                  /ˈkrəʊʃeiıŋ/     /krəʊ’keı/

Ricocheted and crochetingcroquet?

/ˈəʊˈkeɪ/

Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
/ˈrau̇n-dəd/   /ˈwuːndɪd/    /griːv/            /sɪv/

Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,    
/frend/             /fiːnd/    /əˈlaɪv/       /lɪv/

Friend and fiend, alive and live.

 


/r/                     /’haıə/

Is your r correct in higher?
/kiːts/   /ə’sɜːts/                      /θə’laıə/

Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
/hjuː/             /hʌg/           /hʊd/          /huːt/   

Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
/bɔıənt/        /’mınıt/           /maiˈnjuːt/  

Buoyantminute, but minute.

 


/æb’sıʃən/                /prıˈsıʒən/

Say abscission with precision,
             /pəˈziʃən/          /trɑːnˈsiʒən/

Now: position and transition;
/raım/ 

Would it tally with my rhyme
                               / ‘pærədaım/

 If I mentioned paradigm?

 

/’tʌpəns/          /’θrıpəns/         /tiːz/           /’iːzi/

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
         /siːs/      /kriːs/      /griːs/             /’griːzi/

But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
/kɔːnıs/      /naıs/   /və’liːs/  /rı’vaız/  

 Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
/’reıbiːz/            /ˈlʌləbaiz/

 Rabies, but lullabies.

 


/ˈnɔːʃəs/

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,

                                      / ‘kɔːʃəs/       /’tɔːʃəs/
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
                            /lısts/     /həʊp/   

You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
          /’lının/  /‘ɛnvələʊp/

In a linen envelope.

 

                         /sʌm/ /mɔə/

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
/æfı’deıvıt/  /‘deıvıd/  /’dævıt/

Affidavit, David, davit.
      /æb’ʤʊə/     /’pɜːʤə/     /ʃeik/   

To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
                                        /ʧɛk/            /eık/   

Does not sound like Czech but ache.

 

  /lıbəti/
     /’laıbrəri/   /hiːv/             /’hɛvən/

Libertylibraryheave and heaven,
/ˈreɪt͡ʃəl/    /lɒx /     /məsˈtɑːʃ/      /ɪˈlevn/

Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
                 /ˈhæləʊd/            /əˈlaʊd/

We say hallowed, but allowed,    
/ˈpiːpl/       /ˈlepəd/     /təʊd/           /vaʊd/

People, leopard, towed but vowed.

 

                                       /mɔːˈrəʊvə/   

Mark the difference, moreover,

              /ˈmuːvəʳ/ / ‘plʌvə/  /‘dəʊvə/

Between mover, plover, Dover;
/ˈliːtʃ.ɪz/      /bɹiːtʃəz/      /waɪz/ /prɪˈsaɪs/

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
/ˈtʃæl.ɪs/            /pɵˈliːs/      /laɪs/

Chalice, but police and lice,

/ˈkæməl/  /ˈkʌnstəbəl/ /ʌnˈsteɪbəl/

Camel, constable, unstable,
/ˈprɪnsɪpəl/   /dɪˈsaɪpəɫ/ /ˈleɪbəl/

Principle, disciple, label.   

/’pɛtl/    /’piːnəl/          /kə’næl/

Petal, penal, and canal,

/weıt/ /sə’maız/   /plæt/ /’prɒmıs/    /pæl/

Waitsurmiseplaitpromisepal,

 

/sjuːt/  /swiːt/  /ˈruːin/  /’sɜːkıt/   /ˈkɒndit/

Suitsuiteruin. Circuitconduit
                           /ʃɜːk ıt/                 /biˈjɒnd ıt/

Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it“,
                                       /tɛl/ 

But it is not hard to tell

                  /pɔːl/  /mɔːl/          /pɛl mɛl/
Why it’s pallmall, but Pall Mall.

 

/’mʌsl/ /’mʌskjʊlə/    /ʤeıl/  /‘aıən/

Musclemusculargaoliron,
/’tımbə/ /’klaımə/ /’bʊliən/ /’laıən/

Timberclimberbullionlion,

/wɜːm/            /stɔːm/    /ʃeɪz/    /ˈkeɪ.ɒs/ /tʃɛə/

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,

/ˈsɛn.ə.tə/     /spɛkˈteɪtə/  /ˈmɛə/

Senator, spectator, mayor.

 /ˈaɪvɪ/  /ˈprɪvɪ/  /ˈfeɪməs//ˈklæmə/

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour         
               /eı /      /dræm /          /’hæmə /

Has the A of drachm and hammer.         

 /’pʊsi /    /’hʌzi /            /pə’zɛs /

Pussyhussy and possess,

 /dı’zɜːt /         /ˈdɛzət /   /ə’drɛs /

Desert, but desertaddress.

 

 /gɒlf /  /wʊlf / /’kaʊntınəns/     /lɛfˈtɛnənts /

Golfwolfcountenancelieutenants
 /hɔıst /    /ljuː/   /flægz /  /ˈpɛnənts /

Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
/ˈkʊriə/        /’kɔətiə/     /tuːm/   /bɒm/    /kəʊm/  

 Courier, courtier, tombbombcomb,
/kaʊ/           /ˈkuːpə/      /sʌm/           /həʊm/

Cow, but Cowpersome and home.

 

/ˈsɒldə/      /’səʊlʤə/  /blʌd/         /’θıkə/

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,

/kwəʊθ/                    /liˈkjʊə/         /’lıkə/
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor,
/’meıkıŋ/              /sæd/      /truː/  

 Making, it is sad but true,
       /brə’veidəʊ/           /ə’duː/  

 In bravado, much ado.

 

/’streınʤə/                                         /’æŋgə/

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,    
/ˈnaɪðə/         /dɪˈvaʊə/            /ˈklæŋɡəɹ/

Neither does devour with clangour.
/’paılət/ /’pıvət/  /gɔːnt/         /ɑːnt/

Pilot, pivot, gaunt but aunt,
/fɒnt/    /frʌnt/   /wəʊnt/ /wɒnt/ /grænd/      /grɑːnt/

Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant.

 

/’ɑːsnık/     /spɛˈsıfık/  /‘siːnık/

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
/’rɛlık/  /’rɛtərık/      /haı’ʤiːnık/

Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
/ˈgʊzbəri/            /guːs/         /kləʊz/       /kləʊs/

Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
/’pærədaıs/ /raız/ /rəʊz/ /dəʊs/

Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

 

         /ın’veı/     /neı/              /ın’viːgl/

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
                                                      /’iːgl/

Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
                 /miːˈəndərıŋ/           /miːn/ 

Mind! Meandering but mean,
 /væləntaın/         /mægəˈziːn/

Valentine and magazine.

 

                             /diə/        /’pɛni/

And I bet you, dear, a penny,

               /’mænifəʊld/              /mɛni/
You say mani-(fold) like many,
                                        /’reıpıə/   /piə/ 

Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
/’taıə/                   /taız/           /tiə/

Tier (one who ties), but tier.

 

 /ɑːʧ/    /’ɑːk’eınʤəl/   /preı/             / ‘ɜːrıŋ/

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring

                        /’hɛrıŋ/                    /’stɜːrıŋ/
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
/’prızn/   /’baısən/  /‘trɛʃə trəʊv/

Prison, bison, treasure trove,

/’triːzn/        /ˈhɒvə/ /ˈkʌvə/ /kəʊv/
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

 

/pɜːsiˈviərəns/        /’sɛvərəns/    /’rıbəld/

Perseverance, severance. Ribald

                          /’paıbɔːld/                          /’nıbld/
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
 /’feııtn/       /’piːən/    /næt/ /gɔːt/     /nɔː/

Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
/ˈliːən/  /’saıkık/     /ʃɒn/     /bəʊn/   /ʃɔː/   

Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

 

                  /daʊn/         /əʊn/            /rʌf/

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
                                /ˈbʊfei/  /ˈbʌfit/

And distinguish buffetbuffet;
/bruːd/    /stʊd/     / ruːf/  /rʊk/ /skuːl/   /wʊl/        /buːn/  

Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
/’wʊstə/            /’bʊlın/         /ım’pjuːn/   

Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

 

                            /kə’rɛkt/            /’stɜːlıŋ/

Say in sounds correct and sterling
  /hɜːs/       /hıə/     /’hɑːkn/     /jiə/             /’jɜːliŋ/

Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
/’iːvl/   /’dɛvl/   /ˈmɛdzəʊtint/  

Evil, devil, mezzotint,
                 /zɛd/

Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

 

                                             /ə’tɛnʃən/

Now you need not pay attention
                                                  /’mɛnʃən/

To such sounds as I don’t mention,
                         /pɔəz/    /pɔːz/    /pɔəz/         /pɔːz/  

 Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,

/jɔːz/

Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

                                             /ın’kluːdıd/

Nor are proper names included,
                                             /əz juː dıd/

Though I often heard, as you did,
/’fʌni/                           /’juːnıkɔːn/

 Funny rhymes to unicorn,
                                          /vɔːn/                   /strɔːn/

Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

 


/’meıdn/     /kɔi/         /ˈkʌmli/

No, my maiden, coy and comely,

                                                /kəl’mʌndli/
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.

                  /fruːd/                                /praʊd/
No.
Yet Froude compared with proud

                                /məˈklaʊd/
Is no better than McLeod.

 

                   /’trıvıəl/        /’vaıəl/

But mind trivial and vial,
/’traıpɒd/   /’miːnıəl/  /dı’naıəl/

Tripod, menial, denial,
/trəʊl/            /’trɒli/     /rɛlm/            /riːm/

Troll and trolleyrealm and ream,
/’ʃɛʤuːl/        /’mıstʃıf/     /sızm/               /skiːm/  

Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

 

/’ɑːʤıl/   /ʤıl/  /ɑː’gaıl/  /gıl/   /ˈʃɔːli/

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely

/’rɔːli/
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
/seı/

But you’re not supposed to say

/pıˈkɛt/                            /ˈsəʊbrikei/
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

 

                   /’invəlid/  /ın’vælıd/

Had this invalid invalid
/’pælıd/

Worthless documents? How pallid,
            /ʌn’kuːθ/           /’kaʊʧənt/  

 How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
                   /ˈpɔətsməθ/

When for Portsmouth I had booked!

 

/zjuːs/  /θiːbz/      /’θeıliːz/    /æfrəʊ’daıti/

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
/’pærəmʊə/     /ɛˈnæməd/       /’flaıti/

Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
/ɛpısəʊdz/   /æn’tıpədiːz/

Episodes, antipodes,
/ækwiː’ɛs/               /ˈɒbsikwiːz/  

Acquiesce, and obsequies.

 

                          /’mʌŋki/                   /ˈgeizə/

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
                      /ˈteitəz/                 /’reızə/

Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
                                           /pjʊə/

 Rather say in accents pure:
/’neıʧə/       /ˈstætjə/         /mə’tjʊə/

 Nature, stature and mature.

 

/’paıəs/  /‘ımpıəs/    /lım/    /klaım/   /ˈglʌmli/

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
/’wʊstıd/      /ˈwɜːstid/     /ˈkrʌmbli/  /dʌmli/

Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
  /’kɒŋkə/     /’kɒŋkwɛst/
 /
vɑːz/  /feız/    /fæn/
  

 Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
/wɒn/   /sı’dæn/        /ɑːtı’zæn/

Wan, sedan and artisan.

 

     /ˈtiːˈeıʧ/                   /trʌbl juː/

The th will surely trouble you
                   /ɑː/ /’siː’eitʃ/ /’dʌbljuː/

More than rch or w.
                                              /ʤɛmz/

Say then these phonetic gems:
  /’tɒməs/    /taım/      /tə’riːsə/      /tɛmz/ 

Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

 

   /’tɒmpsən/    /’ʧætəm/      /’wɒltəm/      /’strɛtəm/

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
                                                    /ðɛm/

There are more but I forget ’em
                                 /’æntəni/

Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
/’laıtn/                  /æŋ’zaıəti/

 Lighten your anxiety.

 

                                /ɔːl’biːıt/

The archaic word albeit
                                         /eıt/                    /ıt/

Does not rhyme with eight -you see it;
/wıð/            /fɔəθˈwiθ/                    /vɔıs/  

With and forthwith, one has voice,
                                                         /ʧɔis/

One has not, you make your choice.

 

/ʃuː/       /gəʊz/    /dʌz/                             /ˈfɪŋgəʳ/

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger;

             /ˈsɪŋəʳ/ /ˈdʒɪndʒəʳ/         /ˈlɪŋgəʳ/

Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
/rɪəl/     /ziːl/      /məʊv/   /gɔːz/     /gaʊdʒ/ /geɪdʒ/

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,

/ˈmærɪdʒ/   /ˈfəʊlɪɪdʒ/ /ˈmɪrɑːʒ/  /eɪdʒ/

Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

 

/’hiərəʊ/  /‘hɛrən/  /ˈkwiəri/  /’vɛri/

Hero, heron, query, very,

/’pæri/  /‘tæri/  /’fjʊəri/  /’bɛri/
Parry, tarry fury, bury,

/dʌst/ /lɒst/ /pəʊst/           /dʌθ/  /klɒθ/  /ləʊθ/

 Dostlostpost, and dothclothloth,

/ʤɒb/ /ʤəʊb/ /’blɒsəm/ /’bʊzəm/ /əʊθ/
JobJobblossombosomoath.

 

   /fɔː/      /ə’pʌgnənt/                   /əˈpjuːnəz/

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,

/’bəʊıŋ/      /ˈbaʊiŋ/  /ˈbænʤəʊ/ /ˈtjuːnəz/
Bowingbowing, banjotuners

/həʊm/                             /nəʊz/ /kənˈuːz/
Holm you know, but noes, canoes.

/’pjuːni/   /’truːızm/  /juːs/      /juːz/
Puisnetruismuse, to use?

 


/’lıtl/

Though the difference seems little,

                /’æktjuːəl/         /’vıtl/
We say actual, but victual,

/siːt/     /swɛt/    /ʧeıst/   /kɑːst/    /liː/       /eıt/       /haıt/
SeatsweatchastecasteLeigheightheight,

/pʊt/   /nʌt/ /’grænıt/          /juː’naıt/
Putnutgranite, and unite.

 

/’riːfə/                                             /dɛfə /

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer.
/’fɛfə/                           /ˈzefəʳ/   /ˈhefəʳ/

Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
/dʌl/    /bʊl/      /’ʤɛfri/     /dʒɔːdʒ/   /eɪt/
 /leɪt/

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late.

/hɪnt/  /paɪnt/ /ˈsenɪt/          /si-ˈdāt/

Hint, pint, senate but sedate;

 

/’geılık/  /‘ærəbık/  /pə’sıfık/

GaelicArabicpacific,

/ˈsaɪəns/   /ˈkɒnʃəns/       /ˌsaɪənˈtɪfɪk/

Science, conscience, scientific.

/tɔː/            /ˈaʊə/ /dʊə/    /ˈsʌ.kɚ/     /fɔː/

Tour, but our, dour, succour, four. 
/ɡæs/ /əˈlas/    /ˈɑɹ.kən.sɔ/

Gas, alas, and Arkansas.


/mə’njuːvə/      /jɒt/             /’vɒmıt/

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
          /əʊ’mıt/            /ˈdıfəz/           /ıt/

Next omit, which differs from it
/’bəʊnəˈfaidi/ /’ælıbaı/

 Bona fide, alibi
/’ʤaiəreıt/ /’daʊri/           /ə’raı/  

Gyrate, dowry and awry.

 

/siː/    /aɪˈdɪə/ /’gıni/   /’ɛərıə/

Sea, idea, guinea, area,     
/sɑːm/     /məˈɹiːə/         /məˈlɛərɪə/

Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
/juːθ/     /saʊθ/     /ˈsʌðən/     /klɛnz/          /kliːn/

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.

/ˈdɒktɹɪn/     /ˈtɜː.pən.ˌtaɪn/ /məˈri:n/       

Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

 

                /ˈeɪ.li.ən/       /ɪˈtæljən/

Compare alien with Italian,
/ˈdæn.dɪ.laɪ.ən/       /bəˈtælɪən/

Dandelion with battalion.
/ˈsæ.li/          /əˈlaɪ/  /jeɪ/  /jiː/

Sally with ally, yea, ye,  
/aɪ/  /aɪ/ /aɪ/ /eɪ/    /weɪ/     /kiː/    /kiː/

Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

 

        /ˈeɪvə/         /ˈɛvə/ /ˈfiːvə/   

Say aver, but ever, fever,
/ˈnaɪðə/      /ˈlɛʒə/      /skeɪn/ /rɪˈsiːvə/

Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
                                       /seıf/

Never guess-it is not safe, 

/kɑːvz/     /vælvz/  /hɑːf/        /reıf/

We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

 

/’stɑːri/   /ˈɡrænəɹi/      /kɘ’nɛɹi/

Starry, granary, canary.

 /ˈkɹɛvɪs/           /dəˈvaɪs/       /’ɛəri/

Crevice, but device and eyrie.

/feıs/            /’prɛfıs/             /griˈmeis/

Face, but preface, then grimace,

   /flɛm/       /flɛɡˈmætɪk/   /æs/ /ɡlɑːs/   /beɪs/

Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

 

/bæs/    /lɑːdʒ/  /tɑːɡɪt/  /dʒɪn/ /ɡɪv/  /ˈvɜːʤıŋ /

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,

 /ɔːt/     /aʊst/   /dʒaʊst/      /skaʊə/        /’skɜːdʒiŋ/

Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging.

  /ɪə̯/           /ɜːn/         /ɛə/          /tɛə/     

Ear, but earn and ere and tear
                                     /hıə/           /ɛə/

Do not rhyme with here
but heir.

                  /əʊ/    /ɒf/      /ˈɔːfən/

Mind the o of off and often

/’ɔːfən/
Which may be pronounced as orphan,

                                     /sɔː/          /sɔːs/
With the sound of saw and sauce;

/sɒft/ /lɒst/ /klɒθ/          /krɔːs/
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

 

/’pʊdıŋ/        /’pʌdl/    /ˈpʊtıŋ/       /ˈpʌtıŋ/

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?

/gɒlf/                              /’ʃʌtıŋ/
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.

/’rɛspıt/     /spaıt/   /kən’sɛnt/  /rı’zɛnt/
Respite, spite, consent, resent.

/’laıəbl/            /ˈpɑːlimɛnt/

Liable, but Parliament.

 

/’sɛvn/                                  /’iːvn/

Seven is right, but so is even,

/’haıfən/       /’rʌfn/         /’nɛvjuː/     /’stiːvn/
HyphenroughennephewStephen,

/’mʌŋki/         /ˈdɒŋki/    /klɑːk/        /ʤɜːk/
Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk,

/æsp/ /grɑːsp/ /wɒsp/  /dı’meın/  /kɔːk/    /wɜːk/
Aspgraspwaspdemesnecorkwork.

 

/eı/ /’vælə/   /’væpıd/  /‘veıpə/

A of valour, vapid vapour,

/ɛs/ /njuːz/                   /’njuːspeıpə/
S of news (compare newspaper),

/ʤiː/ /’ʤıbıt/   /’gıbən/   /ʤıst/
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,

/aı/ /’æntıkraıst/          /grıst/

I of antichrist and grist,

 

/’dıfə/            /daıˈvɜːs/        /’daıvəz/

Differ like diverse and divers,

  /’rıvəz/   /ˈstraivəz/   /’ʃıvəz/    /’faivəz/
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.

/wʌns/         /nɒns/   /təʊl/  /dɒl/          /rəʊl/
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,

/’pəʊlıʃ/     /’pɒlıʃ/   /pɒl/        /pəʊl/
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

 

                                             /ˈsaɪ.ki/   

Pronunciation, think of Psyche,
          /ˈpeɪlɪŋ/ /staʊt/     /ˈspaɪkɪ/

Is a paling stout and spiky.
/wɪts/

Won’t it make you lose your wits,
                /ɡɹəʊts/                      /ɡɹɪts/ 

Writing groats and saying grits?

           /dɑɹk/ /əˈbɪs/       tʌn(ə)l/

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
/ˈstɹuːn/             /stəʊnz/  /‘rɒlək/     /ˈgʌnl/

Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,

/ˈɪzlɪŋtən/             /aɪ̯l/        /waɪt/

Islington, and Isle of Wight,
 /ˈhaʊs.waɪf/      /ˈvɝ.dɪkt/    /ˌɪnˈdaɪt/

Housewife, verdict and indict.

 


                        /’riːdə/    /ˈrɑːðə/

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,

/’læðə/    /’beıðə/   /’fɑːðə/

Saying lather, bather, father?

/ɪˈnʌf/

Finally, which rhymes with enough,
  /ðəʊ/         /θɹuː/         /baʊ/    /kɒf/       /hɒk/      /sʌf/       /tʌf/

Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

/ˈhɪkʌp/                                      /kʌp/

Hiccough has the sound of cup.
                            /ɡɪv/      /ʌp/

My advice is: GIVE IT UP!  

 

 

Sources and resources:

“The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité”. Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen. 1922. Access date: April 2016. Available at: http://ncf.idallen.com/english.html

 

                You can look for the IPA transcription of words at:

· “Wordreference.com”. Last update: 2016. Access date: April 2016. Available at: http://www.wordreference.com

 

·  Wikimedia Foundation, “Wiktionary”. Last update: April 2016. Access date: April 2016. Available at: https://www.wiktionary.org/

 

An interactive tool:

I later found this website with a more simplified version of the poem. You can use the player with the autoscroll function, and pronunciation will appear simultaneously.

·“Chaos challenge”. Access date: April 2016. http://chaoschallenge.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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