“The Chaos” is a poem demonstrating the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation. Written by Dutch writer, traveller, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870–1946), it includes about 800 examples of irregular spelling. The first version of 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to the author’s 1920 textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen, but “the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge”, published by the Spelling Society in 1993–94, has 274 lines.To demonstrate the flavour of the poem, the opening lines are:
Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
and the closing lines are:
Hiccough has the sound of “cup”……
My advice is—give it up!
These lines are set out as in the author’s version, with alternate couplets indented and the problematic words italicised.