Multi-national personnel at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters near Paris found English to be an easy language...until they tried to pronounce it. To help them discard an array of accents, the verses below were devised. After trying them, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.
English is tough stuff
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 hears.
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the letter, 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 my say, devoid of trickery.
Daughter, laughter, and Trepsichore.
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.
Towards, 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 with 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,
Does, 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 zethyt, helfer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.