No More "Sound it out"!

Why we can’t say, “Sound it out.”

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 now you wish, perhaps,

To learn of less familiar traps?

Beward 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.

(That 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 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!


From a letter published in the

London Daily Times, Jan 3, 1965