Proofreading Tips presents Fun With Words!

Here’s a miscellany of Word Fun, treat this as a warm up to a proofreading session.

Hints on English Pronunciation for Foreigners 

I take it you already know
of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you,
on hiccough, thorough, lough and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
to learn of less familiar traps?
Beware 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
(They 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 ward,
And font and front and word 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!

- attributed to T.S.Watt in 1954 in The Guardian 

Ho Ho Ho 

(a tonic for the chronically phonic) 

An honest horse
made his home
in a house
on the hot horizon.

Every hour
he put on a hood,
dipped his hooves in honey,
and hoisted a flag...
to celebrate
eleven different ways of
pronouncing ‘ho’.

- by the poet Mike Jubb from his anthology ‘The Ghost of My Pussycat’s Bottom

Private? No! 

Punctuation can make a difference.

No Swimming
does not mean the same as
No. Swimming

- by Willard R. Espy in The Kingfisher Book of Children's Poetry

Question Time 

Interesting Words 

What’s special about the words Perpetuity, Repertoire and Typewriter?

The Surgeon 

Complete with seven letters in the same order for each gap:

The -------surgeon was --- ---- to do an operation because there was -- ----- in the operation theatre.

Notice anything interesting about these names? 

  • Don Edwards 
  • Robert Woods 
  • Edith Reed 
  • Rolf Oursler 
  • Jeff Ives 
  • Jessi Xander 
  • Rose Ventnor 
  • Leigh Thompson 
  • Toni Nesbit 
  • Pete Norris 

(From 100 Martin Gardner Wordplay Headscratchers’)


Interesting Words 

They are all typed using only the top row on a qwerty keyboard.

The Surgeon 

The notable surgeon was not able to do an operation because there was no table in the operation theatre.


The numbers one to ten are hidden between the first and last names.

Catriona Tippin has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and helps organise venues for SCBWI North East. Details of her writing and illustrating here. She proofreads study guides, house magazines and publicity material for national educational organisations, in addition to working on a variety of proofreads and copyedits for the growing self-published world. Her monthly column is intended to give you food for thought, remembering “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary).

1 comment:

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