Three authors' versions of the same poem.

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Original text in yellow, anagram in pink.

The original poem -

English Is Tough Stuff (Unpredictable Pronunciation)

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,
Foeffer 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!

David Bourke -

Very Rude English Indeed

Every Viz reader, I am sure, would implore us:
"Study a Roger's Profanisaurus!"
Try it! It is, you will swear, a breeze!
Learn various rude terms, such as these:
Fanny batter, and purple helmet,
Trouser mauser, and pussy-pelmet.
Nudger, josser, beaver, and plonker,
Chalfonts, tuppence-licker, weasel, stonker.

A beetle bonnet, totty, bike,
Golden shower, dunny, diesel dyke.
A tardis twat, wide as a welly top,
In tuna town, Norwich, Bologna bop.
Pissflaps, crusties, dip your wick,
Slime (Aphrodite's Evostick).
Taco-tickler, and tonsil hockey,
Chocolate speedway, and nob-jockey.

A slam hound, culo (Khyber Pass),
To fart higher than your arse.
Firkytoodle, a bit of fluff,
Nude reader's wives, a bit of rough.
Nonce, carpet muncher, off your face,
A dead heat in a Zeppelin race.
Mohair knickers, and gonad glue,
Uphill gardener, follow through.

Rumpy-pumpy, jig-a-jig,
A hipocrocadogapig.
Russet-gusset, and beaver-lever,
Sunnies, fud, and Sigourney Weaver.
Monkey's chin, vulva, Hitler tash,
A slapper, frothing at the gash.
A 'five-to-two-er', a hairy cup,
Loud 'Council gritter', brew one up.

Stilton, muff diver, Hampton Wick,
Crimson crowbar, and rhythm stick.
A crimson wave, vile labia lard,
To warp speed, take Captain Picard.
Marmite-driller, and Bronx cheer,
Three-wheeler, Earthas, a ginger beer.
Baby gravy, and salmon. (On prawn),
Pearl necklace, charver, and Frankie. (Vaughan).

Hide-the-sausage, in (usually) Colwyn Bay,
Trull, tripe hound, get your end away.
A curler, winnie, up the duff,
A pink oboe, putting from the rough.
A pantie hamster, a biffin bridge,
A one-eyed trouser snake, cheese ridge.
In 'Cod Cove' I unload, third leg,
Love handles, frottage, woodies, smeg.

Otter's nose, camel's foot,
Bash the bishop, blue vein cane, toot.
Custard cannon, U.D.I., shit-faced,
Smoo, depth-charge, population paste.
Go down, Lady Chalk of Billingsgate,
Hand solo, feed the ducks, crepitate.
Gary Glitter, quimby, rear-end, stoat,
Wooly, bent as a nine-bob note.

A shaven haven, saddlebags, mott,
Cadbury Alley, aris, sweaty bott.
A tummy truncheon, clam ram, hogan,
A willie-wellie, cotton mouse, grogan.
Unveiled...wide peeler, a geezerbird,
Arsecon ( * ), tea-towel holder, Thora Hird.
Hershey highway, with Aids, and string,
Rising main, and ding-a-ling.

Combustoflatulate, front bottom, minge,
Studio 'burger' view, Edinburgh. (Fringe).
Wu-wu, windward pass, notcher, radge,
Curd, drip tray, cum, nad service, vadge.
A dawn horn, painters in, and quim,
Nut, almond, nooner, Fussells, shim.
Taylforth, draw an ace, yard, hoy,
Sir Anthony and a ladyboy.

Rhino horn, chunder, a kosher dill,
Roundabout (as in Billy Mill).
Hootchie cootchie, a screamer, pooter,
Helmetdale cheese, a nether eye, hooter.
Pudenda, cunnifungus, hit and miss,
A horse's collar, squits, and Swiss.
Honey altar, D'Oyle, mudeye, mooey,
I'd slip you a length, yodel, call Huey.

Curtains, walnut, minnie moo,
Hound, "I say!", auntie, seeing-to.
Duel Darth Vader, Daddy's sauce, bottle,
Grannies' oysters, mouse ear, throttle.
Anus, unit, lever-arch files,
Bourneville Boulevard, Michael Miles,
Bill Grundies, Chooza, D.I.Y.,
Meat and two veg, chocolate eye.

A flesh wallet, dildo, condom, snatch,
Scooter, mezooma, a service hatch.
Wand, wad, hard-on, cliterature,
Swive, back-door conquistador.
Are Arsenal at home? - I'd twang your wire,
Little cones - Miss Lincolnshire.
Set a video, nauticals, lily dew,
A 'No. One' and a 'No. Two'.

Crouton, clown hat, arsewipe, wank,
Wings, wide-on, cunny, merchant bank.
Vinegar stroke, donor, tongue, give head,
A vertical sarnie, five-finger spread.
Seedless, Eccles snake, in a sore drum,
A weenie wiener, whidgey, come.
Sewer skewer, velcro arse, twunt,
And reamed-out. Wait! One last one: Cunt.

Walter Newboldt -

English Vocab is Fun

Here's a list of English words:
Parkway, buzzard, backwards, birds,
Plucky, placard, heyday, wry,
Gladly, duckling, kayak, pie,
Granny, cranky, crackpot, go,
Cuddly, carpal, gravy, snow,
Bulldog, gully, grapple, woo,
Guppy, walkway, payroll, glue.

Coldly, puppy, garland, sock,
Mortal, carload, glancing, mock,
Wager, courage, cauldron, coy,
Credence, thyroid, tenure, boy,
Eyelid, dollar, jaundice, curry,
Grindstone, vicar, vocal, hurry,
Vineyard, cougar, cancer, cull,
Council, caucus, browser, lull.

Cynic, vapour, vulgar, conquer,
Traction, docile, viscous, honker,
Issue, dances, mouldy, clever,
Guinea, diesel, carmine, never,
Option, voltage, seaside, vein,
Prairie, minute, mandate, pain,
Cookie, layout, seaweed, sun,
Loiter, native, teaspoon, gun.

Weevil, safety, earshot, yawn,
Ragtime, eager, turbine, fawn,
Raisin, deathbed, whisper, nurse,
Income, fortune, molten, purse,
Climate, swaying, candle, wood,
Heifer, protest, noodle, good,
Aura, cheetah, voodoo, duck,
Rainbow, stifle, haven, puck.

Diet, honey, pastor, sold,
Jungle, brutal, software, gold,
Anode, doghouse, lantern, grinning,
Meadow, faucet, lavish, winning,
Equine, ponies, heron, reed,
Skater, neutron, furnace, steed,
Genus, dovetail, wisdom, rain,
Rifle, despot, hunter, brain.

Author, switchboard, hither, love,
Nimble, finished, looter, shove,
Titled, husky, skydive, house,
Hornet, manhole, tango, mouse,
Asphalt, birdie, pathos, field,
Mutant, duchy, onion, yield,
Mishap, ethane, solid, roar,
Tower, factor, tersely, poor.

Lichen, handsome, feisty, wave,
Apron, bookie, table, shave,
Humour, handset, visage, sound,
Fondly, kitten, poachers, round,
Antler, diode, image, score,
Others, fishing, brainwashed, bore,
Station, acorn, filthy, doom,
Hastened, warship, veto, boom.

Chaplain, mincemeat, redcoat, airway,
Wafers, waters, donkey, fairway,
Futile, sainthood, zither, sorrow,
Screenplay, petals, toughen, borrow,
Models, touchstone, foible, wielding,
Elbow, thousand, panther, fielding,
Yachting, tinder, alcove, speedy,
Knitwear, triads, oatmeal, needy.

Raven, wheelchair, modest, muscle,
Awesome, ethnic, foray, hustle,
Uncle, eagles, heathen, wand,
Stationed, virus, ailment, bond,
Weather, piston, feudal, spring,
Ostrich, magnets, forehead, ring,
Inquest, windy, wristwatch, scale,
Caption, marble, seething, pale.

Vodka, sweethearts, boyhood, dreaded,
Deathly, hormone, hoses, headed,
Wrangle, hotbed, minor, cruiser,
Streamlined, turnip, curfew, bruiser,
Suitcase, wealthy, hearing, riled,
Leeway, checkpoint, method, wild,
Aural, tailor, peanut, larva,
Roasted, waiter, eerie, carver.

Raucous, ocean, kidney, pound,
Yearly, sauna, master, wound,
Ballad, feasted, coinage, burn,
Reason, barnyard, metals, turn,
Auntie, cheated, stairway, narrow,
Stumble, jealous, manna, barrow,
Heinous, sweater, biased, drone,
Despot, chaser, deacon, clone.

Sweaty, pirate, loading, dense,
Treason, mountain, baseline, tense,
Dreary, chaos, fountain, yet,
Outer, mentioned, pheasant, set,
Causeway, atoms, hoary, dame,
Leather, anxious, savage, maim,
Spendthrift, southern, vandal, swum,
Searchlight, switchblade, shifting, dumb.

Bloodstream, paintbrush, weary, young,
Breakthrough, bloodstained, final, hung,
Gecko, gravestone, grapefruit, squeeze,
Fancies, jilted, whitewashed, ease,
Dangle, cities, slaughtered, born,
Screenplay, daylight, movement, mourn,
Functioned, treatments, absent, trick,
Millionth, windshield, dovetailed, sick.

Mainframe, forethought, sundae, thrill,
Thoughtful, lifeboat, phantom, pill,
Handout, weasel, shiver, marred,
Microbe, milestones, sanction, hard,
Ushered, twinkle, fearsome, nerve,
Typhoid, gaiter, earthworms, curve,
Grubby, puzzle, aardvark, bun -
Learning vocab sure is fun!

Richard Grantham -

    The Friendly Letter E

Everything here uses E:
Mainstream, allegorically,
Bridesmaids, grapefruits, underpay,
Otherworldly, waterway,
Scrounged, incredibly, maintained,
Overland, forestall, untrained,
Megawatt, mismatched, flamboyance,
Switchblade, washable, annoyance,

Clergy, factored, unprovoked,
Operationally, joked,
Winery, chauffeured, controlled,
Bottomed, bloodstained, undersold,
Earmark, brainwashed, durable,
Lifeboats, unprocurable,
Language, vineyards, connoisseurs,
Straightened, chieftain, saboteurs,

Bloodstream, fiendish, gondolier,
Endpoints, breakthrough, souvenir,
Daydream, viewpoints, overfond,
Prayerful, fivefold, correspond,
Ownership, worthwhile, absolved,
Snowmobile, outflanked, involved,
Thieving, doctrine, understand,
Schoolhouse, hatchet, secondhand,

Surfaces, adhering, quipped,
Hideously, trowel, outstripped,
Footnote, juvenility,
Friendships, mainline, disappear,
Loathsome, hailstones, cavalier,
Earthward, farmhouse, overblow,
Driveway, windowpane, tableaux,

Cautiousness, outrageous, drummer,
Absolute, unwieldy, summer,
Blackmailed, hotbed, unconsenting,
Boardinghouse, disorienting,
Anchorage, unshaken, dapple,
Getaway, imbalance, grapple,
Strained, phenomenology,

Footwear, makeshift, unapproved,
Ambulate, nonplussed, unmoved,
Tourmaline, clairvoyance, braided,
Hayfields, masculine, dissuaded,
Outstretched, hypocrite, confounded,
Mayonnaise, harangued, propounded,
Enviously, unawares,
Dungeon, mainframe, millionaires,

Searchlights, faintest, sauerkraut,
Commonwealth, contained, devout,
Housewives, mangrove, interact,
Laminate, phalange, unpacked,
Earthling, breathing, telegram,
Pittance, parallelogram,
Piggybacked, dishonest, bounced,
Statecraft, chlorine, mispronounced,

Bourgeois, waywardness, awaken,
Analogue, transformed, forsaken,
Courthouse, vanished, circumscribe,
Knitwear, patient, diatribe,
Adversary, conjugates,
Cantaloupe, transgress, translates,
Horseplay, workable, curvaceous,
Early, guidebooks, ostentatious,

Widower, surmountable,
Hoodwinked, unaccountable,
Ideology, recoil,
Playmates, dynasties, embroil,
Pheasant, royalties, quartet,
Earthworm, wealthy, clarinet,
Thenceforth, honest, sousaphones,
Shoehorn, wonderful, condones,

Thinnest, awkwardness, outclassed,
Worthier, hauled, unsurpassed,
Eighty, whitewood, doctrinaire,
Lengthways, vanquished, disrepair,
Fatherhood, constrained, adieu,
Thoroughfare, champagne, withdrew,
Heavyweight, demolish, knacker,
Schoolmates, overdraw, attacker,

Weaponry, relation, guzzler,
Asteroid, foreshadow, puzzler,
Tombstone, categorically,
Clotheshorse, metaphorically,
Home, washed, truncheon, cabaret,
Missionaries, carriageway,
Etymology, mundane,
Northern, forethought, ascertain,

Succulently, unrewarding,
Hideaway, tattooed, recording,
Alleyway, spectacularly,
Manicured, vernacularly,
Blithely, wheelchairs, undisguised,
Lightweight, plaintive, crystallised,
Earth, unwisely, flaunted, buckle,
Dominoes, appointments, knuckle,

Dreadnought, frontage, underway,
Earnings, haywire, overpay,
Spendthrift, winnowed, quarterback,
Penny, waistline, crackerjack,
Aardwolves, guidelines, hitherto,
Thoughtless, throttle, misconstrue,
Chimney, ointment, unobtrusive,
Horseman, flatware, inconclusive,

Breakaway, denying, frondage,
Overshadow, vagabondage,
Latchkey, vaporizable,
Dovetailed, vulcanizable,
Fortieth, skulduggery,
Algebraic, buggery,
Cashew, checkpoints, sacrifice -
Es are really very nice!

David Bourke [in response to Richard Grantham's version] -


No doubt, of course... each use 'E'...
Britt Ekland, Freddie Mercury,
Charlotte Church, Sean Bean,
Kate Bush, Prince Philip (plus The Queen!).

Margaret Thatcher, Elaine Stritch,
Slobodan Milosevic,
Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire,
Marcel Proust, Burke and Hare.

Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun,
Audrey Tautou, Goldie Hawn,
Linford Christie, Paul McKenna,
Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna.

Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry,
Dodi Fayed, Princess Di,
Paul "Diana's Rock" Burrell,
Winona Ryder, Sacha Distel.

Giuseppe Verdi, Patrick Moore,
Rod Stewart, Evelyn Waugh.
Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden,
Tim Brooke-Taylor, Osama bin Laden.

Michael Schumacher, Bill Gates,
Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates.
Claude Monet, Jacques Cousteau,
Luca di Montezemolo.

Horatio Nelson, Winnie The Pooh,
Whitney Houston, Barry Blue,
Geno Washington, Roseanne Barr,
Audrey Hepburn, Methuselah.

Wayne Hussey, Tiger Woods, Claire Goose,
Whoopi Goldberg, Doctor Seuss,
Ronnie, Reggie, Charlie Kray,
Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye.

Paul Whitehouse, Mrs. Beeton,
Paul Merton, Angus Deayton,
Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Paul Hester,
August Darnell, Gianluca Festa.

Martin Chivers, David Mellor,
Faye Dunaway, Nelson Mandela,
Claudia Schiffer, Cleo Laine,
Screaming Lord Sutch, Taylor Dayne.

Shmuley Boteach, Uri Geller,
Walt Disney, Nelson Rockefeller,
Francesco Totti, Rachel Weiss,
Suasn Hapmshier, Vincent Price.

Sam Peckinpah, Paul Getty,
Woody Woodpecker, Victor Spinetti,
Steve Staunton, StephaniePowers,
Frankie Dettori, Herbie Flowers.

Nuno Bettencourt, George Dole,
Austin Powers, Helmut Kohl,
Natalie Imbruglia,
Rudolf Hess, Gerard Houllier.

George 'Dubya' Bush, Condoleezza Rice,
David Beckham, Posh Spice,
Tamzin Outhwaite, Chris Waddle,
Coco The Clown, Glenn Hoddle.

Kunta Kinte, Alex Haley,
Marilyn Monroe, David Bailey,
Natalie Wood, Julian Cope,
Yasser Arafat, Mao Tse-Tung, The Pope.

Lorena Bobbitt, Avril Lavigne,
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Roy Keane,
Siobhan Fahey, Howard Stern, Reg Dwight,
Stanley Unwin, Ms Dynamite.

Desmond Tutu, Desmond Dekker,
Tim Henman, Boris Becker,
Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf,
Woody Woodgate, Pauline Calfe.

Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan,
Ludovico Einaudi, Derek Dougan,
Andrew Flintoff, Richard Gere,
Louise Woodward, Amanda Lear.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul 'Red' Adair,
Gustav Mahler, Clive Sinclair,
Edward Woodward, Al Capone,
Rudolf Nureyev, Sharon Stone.

Quentin Crisp, Francis Howerd,
Oscar Wilde, Sir Noel Coward,
Sevvy Ballesteros, Sophie Dahl,
Dana International.

Hugh Dennis, Steve Punt,
David Livingstone, Gareth Hunt,
Stuart Sutcliffe, George Best,
Ray Sawyer, Damien Duff, Chris Guest.

Ed "Stewpot" Stewart, Edwina Currie,
Kieron Dyer, Neil Murray,
Howard Devoto, Geoff Hoon,
Laurens van der Post, Keith Moon.

Father Christmas, Peter Pan,
Widow Twankey, Bob Zimmerman,
Richie Sambora, Shaun Ryder,
Ursula Andress, Jorg Haider.

Sean Combs, Eva Cassidy,
Agatha Christie, Christine McVie,
Lisa Stansfield, Chevy Chase,
Gareth Hale, Norman Pace.

The Earl of Sandwich, Denis Law,
Peter Cook, Dudley Moore,
Ava Gardner, Saddam Hussein,
Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine.

Stanley Matthews, Al Gore,
W.C. Fields, Charlie Dore,
Burt Reynolds, Virginia Wade,
Sven-Goran Eriksson, Lew Grade.

Vincent van Gogh, Len Hutton,
Betty Boothroyd, Jenson Button,
Paul McCartney, Gerry Fitt,
Tony Slattery, Bradley Pitt.

Woody Woodmansey, Dennis Hopper,
Anastacia Newkirk, 'Big Bopper',
Townes van Zandt, Matthew Kelly,
Angie Dickinson, Mary Shelley.

Courtney Love, Coco Chanel,
David A. Stewart, Luis Bunuel...
Now, a drug casualty (tut tut!), stupid doofus too,
Who was way out of it? 'Twas me, but not you!

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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