Antiheteronymic Poetry

Antiheteronymic poetry is my name for poetry where the first line begins with a word which isn’t spelt like it’s said. The remaining rhymes are made up of other words misspelt to match.

I discovered this idea when I came across a one page of examples on the web, which I found doing a Google search for “Featherstonehaugh” (don’t ask).

My favourite from that page is:

An animal trainer called Niamh
Had successes you wouldn't beliamh
She once trained a biamher
To work as a wiamher
(Though why, I just cannot conciamh).

To explain: Niamh is an Irish name, pronounced “Neave”. So the line endings are Neave, believe, beaver, weaver, concieve. Get it? :-)

Here’s my attempt:

An actor from Kent named Featherstonehaugh,
Was renowned as a terrible baugh,
He conversed with some featherstone,
Three young Germans named Heatherstone,
'till they sank comatose to the flaugh.

Please feel free to chip in with your own, either in the comments or your own blog, with a trackback.

And the name? Well, an heteronym, according to Wikipedia, is “a word that is spelled in the same way as another but that has a different sound and meaning, such as bow of the ship and bow and arrow.” What we are using is exactly the opposite – i.e. “a word that is spelled differently to another but has the same sound and meaning”.

There doesn’t seem to be a name for that, so I invented one. (This is an example of a neologism :-)

Update: I may well collect the entries up on a web page. Only post them if you are happy for me to do that (with a credit, of course.)

6 thoughts on “Antiheteronymic Poetry

  1. Now do you understand when foreigners tell you that learning English can be hard ?

  2. A porter from Gonville and Caius
    Turned the thermostat down ten degraius
    A student, Siobhan,
    Looking rather forlhan,
    Said “Plaius turn it up, or I’ll fraius!”

    (The name of the college (http://www.cai.cam.ac.uk/) is pronounced “Keys”. Siobhan is pronounced approximately “SheVORN” – Irish, presumably)

  3. Some more…

    A driver whose surname was St. John
    Had a car with a powerful t. John
    It was so very fast
    That when Saturn whizzed past
    It barely was worthy of Mt. John

    A factory worker named Featherstonehaugh
    Was cutting some wood with a beatherstonedhaugh
    His boss, Herr Clouseau
    Said “You’re cutting too sleau”
    He said “Going as fast as I ceatherstonehaugh!”

    (Yes, I know that Clouseau is French and Herr is German, but “Monsieur” doesn’t scan right)

  4. Stuart: Not so sure about that last one – some dodgy rhymes there – but the first two are great :-)

  5. The dodgy rhymes are kind of deliberate – I figured that since these rhymes are silly in the first place it was okay to go a bit sillier.

    I inserted a “d” into beatherstonedhaugh to get “bandsaw” – it didn’t seem to matter much where I put it because the order of letters in featherstonehaugh bears no relation to the order they’re pronounced in in the first place. And I read the last line as “canshaw” even though the last syllable makes no sense – again, simply gratuitous silliness in the spirit of the genre. I’ve seen that kind of trick used in (correctly spelled) limericks before.

    Of course, if I have to explain it, it probably wasn’t funny enough. *I* still like it, though. It’s my favorite of the three.

    Feel free to collect these and post them wherever :)