Pro-nun-sea-eh?-shun

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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.
Feoffer 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.

Vehement but well-crafted

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The daily and detailed specifics of Donald Trump’s many stupidities are of less concern to an Australian than the threat he posoes on some big questions—especially climate change, nuclear weapons and trade. What I find fascinating is the vehement but well-crafted language used against Trump in some of America’s highly reputed papers and magazines. The New York Times and the New Yorker in particular have nailed their journalistic colors to their mastheads. Thus David Remnick at the The New Yorker:

Every morning since November 9th, you wake up and read the news and think, “This has got to be an issue of The Onion.” Because, while so much of the media, in ways subtle and broad, attempts to normalize the Trump ascendancy, while we are told that patriotism demands that we accept Trump and “give him a chance,” the President-elect acts in ways that leave even dystopian satire behind. His behavior has little to do with conservatism or libertarianism or populism; his mode is recklessness, a self-admiring belief that unpredictability is the path to national salvation. And so every day brings at least one fresh outrage … It seems almost sadistic to go on. It’s the holiday season, after all. … But, rather than fog the mind and defeat the spirit with the litany of accumulated outrages, let’s concentrate on the outrage of the day &hellip

What would you get rid of for Christmas?

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A friend of mine one taught me that rather than “giving up” things for Lent, it is better to add something—more quiet time, more prayer. Similarly, I suggest that Christmas be a time not for getting more and doing more, but a time to get rid of some unwanted stuff. For instance …

In 2009, in its series The Question The Guardian asked “What would you get rid of for Christmas?” Anglican clergyman Peter Bolton responded that he would get rid of churchmen who denounce sexual sins with a fervour they never apply to any other sin.

This is like writing a letter to Santa! Resisting with all my might the temptation to ask for the extermination of certain people who get on my nerves my mind wonders around to the big and worthy issues. Should I ask for the end of war or global warming or poverty or homelessness or child abuse? Well, yes, I should […]

I can just about understand that Christians might regard homosexual acts as sinful but what I completely fail to understand is why they get so worked up about it. I just wish that churchmen (yes, I do mean that) who get so upset about what they regard as sexual sins would get just as worked up about illegal wars, the greed that leads to global warming, or the violence done to women in the name of Christian marriage. I wish were as vociferous in their campaigning against world poverty, against nuclear weapons or the appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Why do they seem to get more upset about people trying to love than they do about poverty, the penal system, or the exploitation of women?

So, dear Santa, please get rid of all talk from churchmen about sex unless it is a celebration of God’s wonderful gift. […] Come to think about it, though, it might be more realistic to hope for the end of poverty.

I too would get rid of Santa. If we must have a feast of gift-giving, then St Nicholas is the real deal (and in Advent, not on Christmas Day).

nicholasThe Roman Catholic Church demoted Nicholas in 1969, by making observance of his feast day optional (December 6th in the Gregorian calendar) but he is much venerated in the Orthodox tradition and held by some to be patron saint of children, thieves, bankers, prisoners, sailors, unmarried girls and pawnbrokers—as well as the nations of Greece and Russia.

In 1892, Crown Prince Nicholas of Russia travelled to Bari, in south-eastern Italy, to visit the basement of a medieval basilica, to pray where the remains of his namesake, brought to Italy in 1087, are kept. A year earlier, Nicholas had blessed the building of the trans-Siberian railway by installing an image of St Nicholas at its Pacific extreme in Vladivostok. The Bari basilica still receives many Russian pilgrims every year on St. Nicholas’ feats day by the orthodox calendar), drawn to honour the man whom Russians call Nikolai Ugodnik, Nicholas the Helper.

Bethlehem Christians claim Nicholas as their own because of a cave where the young Nicholas is said to have rested during his own pilgrimage to Bethlehem. There is a church built over the cave, scarred by fighting between Palestinians and the Israeli army. It was in Bethlehem that Nicholas heard the call to be a bishop in his native Asia Minor.

Nicholas is but a human story. Yet, if he were honoured instead of Santa, there would be still greater respect at Christmas for the Greatest Gift, Jesus the Christ.

Laissez faire aux États-Unis?

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NBC show Saturday Night Live has quite a reputation for deservedly taking the Mickey out of Donald Trum, to which Mr Trup has often replied with furious tweets.

On 12 December 2016 the show lampooned some of Trump’s cabinet selections, especially that of including Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Pruitt has sued the EPA on climate change several times).

“Scott Pruitt is excited for the job and ready to protect us all from the environment,” Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) said in a comedy sketch.

“It’s almost like Mr. Trump appoints these people specifically to undermine the very agencies they head,” Jake Tapper (Beck Bennet) said. “Kellyanne, are these bad picks?”

“No Jake, they are not bad,” she answers. “They are alt-good.”

Unlike in earlier weeks, Trump didn’t tweet a reply.

“It’s almost like Mr. Trump appoints these people specifically to undermine the very agencies they head.” Indeed so. That’s precisely the point. Mr Trump, it would appear, along with many other Republicans and Americans generally, simply wants to remove government from people’s lives and every day affairs. That is, he wants to go back to the early C19th, where largely all government did was what we now call foreign affairs, defence, navigation, migration and trade … plus various laws that regulated personal and business relationships. NOT health care, welfare, social services, education, civil rights, economics, energy, infrastructure, housing, environment, manufacturing, technology, etc.

A novel experiment in Laissez-faire government? Interesting if it were not so potentially deadly.