The Chaos: Full version

Back in column ggg, I attempted to piece together the famous poem about English pronunciation “The Chaos,” based on a bunch of fragmentary online sources.

And then in 2013, I came across the website of the English Spelling Society, which provided a full version of the poem, authorized by the original author’s nephew, Jan Nolst Trenité. But the link to that page has been languishing in my notes for years, and in the meantime the site seems to have gone offline. Fortunately for my purposes, the Internet Archive has preserved that page.

So here at last, thanks to the Internet Archive and the English Spelling Society, is the full version of “The Chaos”, by “Charivarius,” a.k.a. Gerard Nolst Trenité, along with extensive notes about the history of the poem. (The original author changed it extensively over time, eventually nearly doubling the length of the original.)

I find it interesting to compare this version with the version I patched together. Mine is fairly close for a while, but some lines are quite divergent; and then it gets to the part where a dozen lines are missing from mine; and then the divergence dissolves into, well, chaos.

I’m especially chagrined that I assumed the word darky was from the original; nope, turns out the corresponding word in the full version is khaki. Apologies for having “restored” that word.

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