Learning the English Language

Learning the English Language

Learning the English Language:

Language at play

I take it you already know

Of touch and bough and cough and dough?

Others may stumble, but not you

On hiccough, thorough, slough, and thought?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,

To learn of less familiar traps?

 

Beware of heard, a dreadful word

That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead;

For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat,

(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother.

Nor both in bother, broth in brother.

 

And here is not a match for there,

And dear and fear for bear and pear,

And then there’s dose and rose and lose –

Just look them up – and goose and choose.

And cork and work and card and ward,

And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.

Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.

 

A dreadful language? Why, man alive,

I’d learned to talk it when I was five.

And yet to read it, the more I tried,

I hadn’t learned it at fifty- five.

 

In Maryanne Wolf Proust and the Squid 2007

 

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