The chaos of English spelling

English spelling is notoriously inconsistent. A Dutch writer, Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946) wrote a poem The Chaos highlighting some of the irregularities and inconsistencies. The first version appeared in 1920 in his textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen. The author also wrote a linguistic column for an Amsterdam weekly paper from 1909 to 1946 under the pseudonym Charivarius.

Here are the first 4 lines of the poem:

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpsecorpshorse and worse.

The full text comprises 274 lines and includes about 800 examples. That text, with some background information, is at

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