The Chaos: a poem by Charivarius

Note:

  1. the only input to the text-to-speech system was the text following the file links;
  2. this poem was written by by Dutchman G.N. Trenite for the British Punch magazine under the nom de plume “Charivarius” (1870-1946). He wrote it to illustrate (and complain about) the vagaries of British English spelling and pronunciation—which is why it is a good test for the Gnuspeech text-to-speech-system; and
  3. a few words are still mispronounced because they require grammatical or semantic information to choose appropriately (spotting them is left as an exercise to the reader/listener, but distinguishing “tear” in eye versus “tear” in dress requires semantics, for example); some “correct” pronunciations can be surprising, so you can easily be wrong; the poem is actually instructional—the rhymes give much guidance, but the mix of General American and British English accents in the synthesis system spoils some of Trenite&$8217;s nice points—the vowels in “ass” and “glass” are the same in General American English, for example, whereas they are different in British RP English;
  4. it should be remembered that the system is a “first cut”; all effort has gone into porting the system since it was originally created, and none into improving the databases and algorithms.

The Chaos.aiff (~40MB)
The Chaos.wav (~40MB)
The Chaos.au (also .snd) (~40MB)

The Chaos

A poem on English pronunciation, by:
Charivarius, (G.N. Trenite: 1870—1946).

Dearest creature in creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer:
Pray console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it.
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).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say—said, pay—paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak:
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak,
Previous, precious; fuschia, via;
Pipe, shipe, recipe and choir;
Cloven, oven; how and low;
Script, receipt; shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery;
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore;
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles;
Exiles, similes, reviles;
Wholly, holly; signal, signing;
Thames, examining, combining;
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.
Desire—desirable, admirable—admire;
Lumber, plumber; bier but brier;
Chatham, brougham; renown but known,
Knowledge; done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone; Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen; laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German; wind and mind;
Scene, Melpomene, mankind;
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross; brook, brooch; ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with darky.
Viscous, viscount; load and broad;
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s O.K.
When you say correctly; croquet;
Rounded, wounded; grieve and sieve;
Friend and fiend, alive and live,
Liberty, library; heave and heaven;
Rachel, ache, moustache; eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed;
People, leopard; towed, but vowed.
Mark the difference moreover
Between mover, plover, Dover;
Leeches, breeches; wise, precise;
Chalice, but police and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, discipline, label;
Petal, penal and canal;
Wait, surmise, plait, promise; pal.
Suit, suite, ruin; circuit, conduit,
Rime with: “shirk it” and “beyond it”;
But it is not hard to tell
Why it’s pall, mall, but PallMall.
Muscle, muscular; goal and iron;
Timber, climber; bullion and lion;
Worm and storm; chaise, chaos, chair;
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Ivy, privy; famous; clamour,
And enamour rime with “hammer”.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf; countenants; lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival; tomb, bomb, comb;
Doll and roll, and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul; and gaunt, but aunt;
Font, front, won’t; want, grand and grant;
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then; singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal; mauve, gauze and gauge;
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the difference seems little
We say actual, but victual;
Seat, sweat; chaste, caste; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite but unite.
Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull; Geoffrey, George; ate, late;
Hint, pint; senate, but sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific;
Science, conscience, scientific.
Tour, but our, and succour, four;
Gas, alas and Arkansas!
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern; cleanse and clean;
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian.
Dandelion with battalion,
Sally with ally, Yea, Ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess—it is not safe;
We say calves, valves; half, but Ralf.
Heron, granary, canary;
Crevice and device and eyrie;
Face, preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic; ass, glass, bass;
Large, but target, gin, give, verging;
Ought, out, joust and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and wear and tear
Do not rime with “here” but “ere”.
Seven is right, but so is even;
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen;
Monkey, donkey; clerk and jerk;
Asp, 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 “groats”?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Don’t you think so, reader, rather
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with “enough”,
Though, through, plough, cough, hough or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup”,
My advice is ... give it up!


This synthesis represents the current state of the Gnuspeech text-to-speech system. If you download the software for the Mac you can use "GnuTTSClient" to hear the conversion for test text. You can also use Monet to take test utterances and play with the intonation. Thanks to Steve Nygard and Dalmazio Brisinda for their essential help with getting the port to this stage. Those who are interested in taking the database creation stubs in Monet and porting the code needed to allow data base creation for modifying/improving the existing databases, or creating the databases required for new languages, please contact Professor Hill


Page last updated 2012-01-16