Chinese or English, which is harder to learn?

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This arrived in email earlier in the week. If you're struggling to learn Chinese, spare a thought for the difficulties of learning English. By the time you've reached the end of this, you'll start doubting whether there are any rules at all - everything seems to be an exception!


Written in British English, but it's still interesting -and possibly challenging - for all native English speakers (!)
If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will  be
speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in
the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he'd prefer  six
months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them  yourself.

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!!!

Re: Chinese or English, which is harder to learn?

Hi there,

As a non-native speaker this is one tongue & mind twister that I had ever read so far.  And I am not familiar with some of the words used.  It is one discouraging piece of work...........

Best Regards,

Thomas

re: Chinese or english

Yes, even with English as a first language it's hard work reading it! I remember another, shorter example from my childhood, Q. How to pronounce 'ghoti'?

The answer is 'fish', from enough, women, and nation.

It's a muddled-up language, that's for sure.

Pronunciation

Okay, I thought I could get them all, but Melpomene?

This is the best example of this genre -- call it 'poetry of preposterous pronuciation', let's say -- that I've ever seen, and it's new to me as well.

bouquet

I'd betcha Hyacinth Bucket would be able to pronounce each word correctly...   :)

Along the same lines (from

Along the same lines (from http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/humour/learningenglish.htm)

1) The bandage was wound around the wound. 
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse. 
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) I did not object to the object.
9) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row. 
10) They were too close to the door to close it.
11) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear. 
12) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend? 
13) I shed my clothes in the shed.

Let's face it - English is a ridiculous language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in ah amburger; neither apple nor pine in a pineapple. 
English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France. 
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are
meat.

You cannot buy boots in Boots, You cannot buy virgins in Virgin, You cannot buy threshers in Threshers and the Superdrug chain is a great disappointment.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that bakers bake, but grocers don't groce?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? 
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? 
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And finally, how about when you want to shut down your computer you have to hi t "START"?

 

 

Reply

Do not find this discouraging!

I speak english as a native language and I even had to stop and think when I read it. (I am trying not to use any hard words, such as I'm and Don't for those who have not learned these yet,)

The trick is, it is using words that are spelled the same, but sound different.

I messed up sometimes, too, haha.

You will never have to do something like that when you speak it in real life!

And there were words in there that I haven't heard of, too.

This is a very formal way of English, with old words that people have not used since the 1700s.