Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can you speak English? Can you REALLY speak English?


For this post title I am indebted to Jc who created it as a signature for his posts.

Jc is an active coordinator of LibriVox.org who recently had the coup de génie of proposing to the LibriVox volunteers to record The Chaos.

The Chaos
is a poem by Gerard Nolst Trenité where all (or most of) the inconsistencies of the English spelling-pronunciation are skilfully gathered creating a nice and amusing result.

I daresay that even English mother tongue readers might find some difficulty in this poem.

While you can read the poem at WikiSource and listen to some recordings at LibriVox I propose here a phonetic transliteration.

Some remarks:

  • As there is not a unique and universal English pronunciation, I chose the pronunciation given by Daniel Jones in his English Pronouncing Dictionary (London and New York 1967).
  • I interpreted "corps" as plural: it sounds nicer to me. Of course the singular presents two incongruities instead of one.
  • "Aye" is a homograph: it is pronounced [ei] when it means "ever" and [ai] for "yes". I chose the latter because I find it funnier to have a string of four [ai]!
  • I also interpreted "housewife" as "sewing box" [ˈhʌzif]; in the more usual meaning the pronunciation wouldn't have presented any oddity.

[The Chaos, by Gerard Nolst Trenité; phonetic transliteration by Sergio Baldelli]

ðə keiɔs

diərist ˈkriːtʃə* in kriˈəiʃn
ˈstʌdi ˈinɡliʃ prənʌnʃiˈəiʃn
ai will tiːtʃ ju in mai vəːs
saundz laik cɔːps cɔːz hɔːs ənd wəːs
ai wil kiːp ju ˈsuːsi ˈbizi
meik jɔː hed wið hiːt ɡrəu dizi
tiə* in ai jɔː* dres wil tɛə*
səu ʃəl ai əu hiə* mai prɛə*

dʒʌst kəmˈpɛə* hɑːt biəd ənd həːd
daiz ənd daiət lɔːd ənd wəːd
sɔːd ənd swɔːd riˈtein ənd britn
maind ðə lætə* hau its ritn
nau ai ˈʃuəli wil nɔt pleiɡ juː
wið sʌtʃ wəːdz əz plɑːk ənd eiɡjuː
bʌt bi kɛərfl hau yu spiːk
sei breik ənd steik bʌt bliːk ənd striːk
kləuvn ʌvn hau ənd ləu
skript risˈiːt ʃəu sləu pəuim ənd təu

hiə* mi sei diˈvɔid əv ˈtrikeri
ˈdɔːtə* ˈlɑːftə* ənd təːpˈsikəri
ˈtaifɔid miːzlz topslz ailz
ˈeksailz ˈsimiliz riˈvailz
ˈskɔlə* ˈvikə* ənd siˈɡaː*
ˈsəulə* ˈmaikə wɔː* ənd fɑː*
wʌn əˈneməni bælˈmɔrl
kitʃn laikn ˈlɔːndri lɔrl
ˈɡəːtruːd dʒəːmn wind ənd maind
siːn məlˈpɔmini mæanˈkaind

ˈbilit dʌz not raim wið ˈbælei
buˈkei ˈwɔlit ˈmælit ˈʃælei
blʌd ənd flʌd ɑː* not laik fuːd
nɔː* iz məuld laik ʃud ənd wud
ˈviskəs ˈvaikaunt ləud ənd brɔːd
təˈwɔːd tə ˈfoːwəd tə riˈwɔːd
ənd joː* prəˈnʌnsiəiʃn z əu kei
wen ju kəˈrektli sei ˈkrəukei
ˈraundid ˈwuːndid ɡriːv ənd siv
frend ənd fiːnd əˈlaiv ənd liv

ˈaivi ˈprivi ˈfeiməs ˈklæməː*
ənd iˈnæməː* raim wið ˈhæməː*
ˈrivəː* raivl tuːm bɔm kəum
dɔl ənd rəul ənd sʌm ənd həum
ˈstreindʒə* dʌz not raim wið ˈænɡə*
ˈnaiðə dʌz diˈvauə* wið ˈklænɡə*
səulz bʌt faul hɔːnt bʌt ɑːnt
fɔnt frʌnt wəunt wɔnt ɡrænd ənd ɡrɑːnt
ʃuːz ɡəuz dʌz nau fəːst sei ˈfiŋɡə*
ənd ðen ˈsiŋə* ˈdʒindʒə* ˈlinŋɡə*
riəl ziːl məuv ɡɔːz ɡaudʒ ənd ɡeidʒ
ˈmæridʒ ˈfəuliidʒ miˈrɑːʒ ənd eidʒ

ˈkwiəri dʌs not raim wið veri
nɔː dʌz ˈfjuəri saund laik ˈberi
dʌst lost pəust ənd dʌθ clɔθ ləuθ
dʒəub nob ˈbusəm ˈtrænsəm əuθ
ðəu ðə ˈdifrənsiz siːm litl
wi sei ˈæktuəl bʌt vitl

riˈfəː* dʌz nɔt raim wið ˈdefə*
ˈfefə* dʌz ənd ˈzefə* ˈhefə*
mint paint ˈsenit ənd siˈdeit
dʌl bul ənd dʒoːdʒ et leit
ˈsiːnik ˈærəbik pəˈsifik
saiəns kɔnʃns saiənˈtifik

ˈlibəti ˈlaibrəri hɪːv ənd hevn
reitʃl eik məˈstaʃ iˈlevn
wi sei ˈhæləud bʌt əˈlaud
pipl ˈlepəd təud bʌt vaud
mɑːk ðə ˈdifrənsiz mɔːˈrəuvə*
bitˈwiːn ˈmuːvə* ˈcʌvə* ˈkləuvə*
ˈliːtʃiz ˈbritʃiz waiz priˈsais
tʃælis bʌt pəˈliːs ənd lais
kæml kʌnstbl ʌnˈsteibl
ˈprinspl diˈsaipl leibl

petl pænl ənd kəˈnæl
weit səˈpraiz plæt ˈprɔmis pæl
wəːm ənd stoːm ʃeiz keiɔs tʃɛə*
ˈsenətə* spekˈteitə* mɛə*
tuə bʌt auə* ənd ˈsʌkə* foː*
ɡæs əˈlæs ənd ˈɑːkənsoː*
siː aiˈdiə kəˈriə ˈɛəriə
sɑːm məˈriə bʌt məˈlɛəriə
yuːθ sauθ ˈsʌðən klenz ənd kliːn
ˈdɔktrin təːpənˈtain məˈriːn

kəmˈpɛə* ˈeiliən wið itˈæliən
ˈdændilaiən ənd bəˈtæliən
ˈsæli wið əˈlai jei jiː
ai ai ai ai wei ənd kiː
sei əˈvəː* bʌt ˈevə* ˈfiːvə*
ˈnaiðə* ˈleʒə* skein diˈsiːvə*
ˈherən ˈɡrænri kəˈnɛəri
ˈkrevis ənd diˈvais ənd ˈɛəri

feis bʌt ˈprefis not iˈfeis
flem fleɡˈmætik æs ɡlɑːs beis
lɑːdʒ bʌt ˈtɑːɡit dʒin ɡiv ˈvəːdʒinɡ
ɔːt aut dʒaust ənd skauə* ˈskəːdʒinɡ
iə* bʌt əːn ənd wɛə* ənd tɛə*
du not raim wið hiə* bʌt ɛə*
sevn iz rait bʌt səu iz iːvn
haifn rʌfn nevju stiːvn
mʌnki dɔnki təːk dʒəːk
ɑːsk ɡrɑːsp wɔsp ənd kɔːk ənd wəːk
prənʌnʃiˈəiʃn θink əv ˈsaiki
iz ə ˈpeiliŋ staut ənd ˈspaiki
wəunt it meik yu luːz jɔː* wits
ˈraitiŋ ɡrəuts ənd seiŋ ɡrits
its ə dɑːk əˈbis ɔː* tʌnl
struːn wið stəunz stəud sɔləs ɡʌnl
ˈizliŋtən ənd ail əv wait
ˈhʌzif ˈvəːdikt ənd inˈdait

ˈfainəli witʃ raimz wið iˈnʌf
ðəu θruː plau oː* dəu ɔː* kʌf
ˈhikʌp həz ðə saund əv kʌp
mai əˈdvais iz tə ɡiv ʌp

4 comments:

Jc said...

Awwww, I am being quoted!!
Great post! Now I shall have to go and review my recording... LOL

Sergio said...

Hello Jc,

Thank you for posting a comment.

I definitely don't think you should review your recording. Daniel Jones' dictionary reports the British Received Pronunciation which is only one option among others.

Cheers

Long Branch Free Public Library said...

Wonderful attempt Sergio, although, as Jc herself said, there are many phrasings that are, well, disputable. Still, it was a gallant effort.

The poem, is more than tricky to pronounce; it's also at times horrid verse. Some lines are little more than illogical sequences of sounds. BUT, it was (is) after all, fun.

I believe I could record it once a week for a year and come up with 56 interpretations and 146 different deliveries. Think I'll try it next time with a Tibetan accent. No, better yet, with a Xhosa accent!

All and all, it works fine with an American accent, even without the usual twists one must make to set it right.

Wait, datz it, maybee Oi kould doit wit uh Niew Yawk aksendt.

Best —Alan

generic cialis said...

In principle, a good happen, support the views of the author