[I take no credit for what follows. It’s part of a package of materials I was given last week after I volunteered to do one-on-one tutoring in English conversation for the Davis International Center at Princeton University. My international student for the next five months will be a visiting scholar from China, who has come to work at the Princeton Plasma Physics laboratory.
International students at the University must read and write English at an acceptable level or take a remedial course. Being able to speak so that others can understand is something else. And then there are the idioms! I’m meeting my student for the first time later this morning, and so won’t know what his conversational problems may be until then. In the meanwhile, however, here’s something for you to enjoy. We anglophones are so lucky!]
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And 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
Nor 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 and thwart and cart —
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five.
T.S.W. (Only the initials of writer are known)