Rough and Tough

There had been many verses written over the years that talk about the intricacies of English pronunciation. The following verse from The Mixture of Low Spirits (1875) is just one of many:

If your first line ends with cow,
Rhyme o w with plough;
Should your second nicely go,
Seek o long, as found in though;
Thirdly, would you try this too,
Double o is found in through;
Fourth, a variance we are taught,
Like an a u is heard in thought;
Speak you, fifthly, of a sorrow,
Give the o obscure in borough;
In the sixth place, you may pick up
Sound of u p in a hiccough;
Turn your seventh couplet off,
Assuming o f as in cough;
Eighthly, sing you of a rock,
Echo c k with a lough;
Ninth and last, and quantum suff,
Sound u f, and cry,–enough!

Anyway, this letter from H. Pirie-Gordon to The Athenaeum on September 20, 1934, is also worth mentioning:

Sir,

‘A rough-coated dough-faced ploughman strode coughing and hiccoughing through the streets of Scarborough’ used to be set as a spelling-test at my prep school at Crowborough in the middle nineties.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

H. Pirie-Gordon

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

11 thoughts on “Rough and Tough

  1. English is the worst to learn and I congratulate anyone who speaks another language besides their native tongue, The various spellings, not to mention the double entendres can leave one scratching his/her head.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I often wonder what non-native English speakers think when they come to this language for the first time. I work with a lot of people from Southeast Asia and they do an admirable job of sorting through our mess of a language.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorting through the mess is a thrilling adventure. English is my third language but I began to learn it when I was eight. Then I went to university and studied English and German Language and Literature. Such lovely poems as this one here always fascinate me.

      Liked by 1 person

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