Sunday, 24 February 2013


If we can believe what we read in the papers, we are soon to have an influx of East European immigrants. 

If you are one of these newcomers, welcome. You are probably finding our language a bit hard to learn so here are a few tips to help you.

Let's start with pronunciation. If a word ends in '...ough' it is pronounced 'off' as in cough. Unless of course it is pronounced 'uff' as in rough or else when it is pronounced 'ow' as in bough.

If a word begins with a 'g' you say 'g' as in gun or 'j' as in gem.  

Words ending in '...ear' are pronounced 'eer' as in beer or sometimes 'air' as in pear.

I hope that's clear. This poem explains everything: 

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.

Gerald Nolst Trenite (1870-1946)

Finally  a few spelling tips. A very good rule is 'i' before 'e' except after 'c'. So friend has 'i' before 'e' but ceiling has 'e' before 'i' because it comes after 'c'. Of course if you are foreign then 'e' comes before 'i'. Is that sufficient? Note that here it is 'i' before 'e' even though it's after 'c'.

To make a word plural add 's' to the end as in book-books or bag-bags. Don't do this for sheep though. Or deer or child or man or foot or tooth etc.

Remember, English is very difficult as this popular piece demonstrates:


We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
This was a good time to present the present.
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of injections my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I read it once and will read it agen
I learned much from this learned treatise.
I was content to note the content of the message.
The Blessed Virgin blessed her. Blessed her richly.
It's a bit wicked to over-trim a short wicked candle.
If he will absent himself we mark him absent.
I incline toward bypassing the incline.

Good luck! 

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