Cider Inside Her

apple cider jugHere is a fun limerick. First, listen to how it sounds:

There once was a lady from Hyde
Who ate some green apples and died
The apples fermented
Inside the lamented
And made cider inside her insides


The fun part of this limerick is the last line, but it would not sound so interesting without sentence stress, reductions, and linking.

Listen again, while looking at the strong words:

There ONCE was a LAdy from HYDE
Who ATE some green APPLES and DIED
The APples ferMENted
InSIDE the laMENted
And made CIDer inSIDE her inSIDES

Here is why the last line sounds funny:
1. The three stressed syllables all have the same consonant and vowel sounds.
2. The word “her” is reduced — the “H” is missing, so it sounds like “-er”.
3. The word “inside” is linked to the word “her” (which is reduced) and sounds like “insider”, and this matches the sound of the word “cider”.

Now listen to how different it sounds if I say the last line with all of the words spoken carefully and clearly (without linking and reductions): And made cider inside her insides.

So, sentence stress can be fun! In fact, without it, many jokes and puns in English would not be funny at all.


Two Limericks Part 2


Here are the strong words of the Two Limericks.

There ONCE was a FLY on the WALL.
I WONdered “why DIDn’t it FALL?”
WERE it’s feet STUCK?
Or WAS it just LUCK?
Or does GRAvity MISS things so SMALL?

There WAS a young LADY named ROSE.
Who HAD a large WART on her NOSE.
When she HAD it reMOVED,
Her apPEARance imPROVED.
But her GLASSes slipped DOWN to her TOES!

NOTE: Sometimes in poetry or music the “rules” are bent a bit to make the words fit in. In these limericks, some words that are normally strong words are not stressed.

For example, in the phrase “young lady” the word “young” is an adjective, and in normal conversation it would be stressed. However, in order to make proper limerick rhythm, only “lady” is stressed. (The word “lady” is more important than “young” in that phrase).

Having the ability to vary sentence stress in this way is a very helpful skill for learning to speak English with a natural and smooth flow.

Two Limericks

Here are two very old limericks. They are from a book published in 1846 by Edward Lear, titled “A Book of Nonsense”.

Remember, limericks emphasize English sentence stress.
In both of these limericks, here is the number of strong words in each line:

Line 1- 3
Line 2- 3
Line 3- 2
Line 4- 2
Line 5- 3

Now, give your ear some practice — see if you can find the strong words by listening for them.

There once was a fly on the wall.
I wondered “why didn’t it fall?”
Were it’s feet stuck?
Or was it just luck?
Or does gravity miss things so small?

There was a young lady named Rose.
Who had a large wart on her nose.
When she had it removed,
Her appearance improved.
But her glasses slipped down to her toes!

The next post (Two Limericks Part 2) will show which words are the strong ones!