Below is the complete text of the original book, "Anguish Languish", by Howard L. Chace, originally published in 1956 and read on Sir Arthur Godfrey's TV show at the time.
Other people have since invented homages to the subject, including works of their own written in Anguish (a mispronounced English).
Copyright law explanation: This work was copyrighted by Prentice-Hall in 1956. According to United States Copyright Law (specifically U.S. Code Section 17) "§ 304. Duration of copyright: Subsisting copyrights1, (a) Copyrights in Their First Term on January 1, 1978. (1)(A) Any copyright, in the first term of which is subsisting on January 1, 1978, shall endure for 28 years from the date it was originally secured." Since 1998 minus 1956 = 42 years, the copyright expired 14 years ago. COPY THIS ALL YOU WANT. I would appreciate a link to my page as recognition of my effort in putting this page on my site, but that's up to you.
PRENTICE-HALL, INC. ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N. J.
Anguish Languish: Lath Thing Thumb Thongs!
English words are astonishingly versatile and could readily be made to serve a new and extraordinary purpose, but nobody seems to care about this except SPAL (Society for the Promotion of the Anguish Languish) [The members of SPAL are the persons who have written to the author concerning the Anguish Languish, especially the thousands who wrote to request copies of LADLE RAT ROTTEN HUT after Arthur Godfrey's inimitable reading of it, on his television show. The society is very poorly organized, in fact few of the members even know they belong. There are no officers, no meetings, no convention, and, worst of all, from the point of view of the author and founder, no dues.]
In keeping with its lofty ideals and its slogan, ANGUISH FOR EVERYBODY, the Society is sponsoring this little text, which has three aims:
Policemen and Magicians
A visiting professor of Anguish, Dr. ____________, [This isn't his real name, nor is it intended to be the name of any other Anguish Languish professor, living or dead.] who, while learning to understand spoken English, was continually bewildered and embarrassed by the similarity of such expressions as boys and girls and poisoned gulls, used to exclaim:
"Gracious! What a lot of words sound like each other! If it wasn't (sic) for the different situations in which we hear 'em, we'd have a terrible time saying which was which."
Of course, these may not have been the professor's exact words, because he often did his exclaiming in Anguish rather than in English. In that case he would say:
"Crashes! Water larders warts sunned lack itch udder! Egervescent further delerent saturations an witch way harem, wade hei[er haliver tam sang witch worse witch."
Dr. __________ was right, both in English and Anguish. Although other factors than the pronunciation of words affect our ability to understand them, the situation in which the words are uttered is of prime importance. You can easily prove this, right in the privacy of your own kitchen, by asking a friend to help you wash up a dozen cops and sorcerers. Ten to one, she'll think you said a dozen cups and saucers, and be genuinely surprised if you put her to work cleaning up even one police officer, let alone all the others, and the magicians, too.
If you think that she misunderstands merely because the two phrases sound somewhat alike and not because of the situation, read what SPAL's Committee on Housewives has to say:
"Presented with a dishes-piled-in-sink situation, several hundred well-adjusted housewives thought that cops and sorcerers referred to dishes, but seldom did normal subjects, interviewed under the same conditions, make the opposite mistake. When they were asked to help us wash cups and saucers, some women consented, some made stupid excuses, and some told us bluntly to go wash them ourselves, but practically no one thought that we were talking about policemen and magicians."
What Anguish Really Is
"The experiments described above, and hundreds of similar ones conducted by SPAL show that an unbelievable number of English words, regardless of their usual meanings, can be substituted quite satisfactorily for others. When all the words in a given passage of English have been so replaced, the passage keeps its original meaning, but all the words have acquired new ones. A word that has received a new meaning has become a wart, and when all the words in the passage have become warts, the passage is no longer English; it's Anguish.
Are There Any Good Reasons to Study Anguish?
This is not an altogether silly question, and it deserves the prompt and unequivocal answer any Anguish Languish enthusiast will give it.
"Watcher mane, ardor rainy gut raisins toe sturdy anguish?" he will say, and will probably give you an impressive list of them which will certainly include the following:
1. Anguish is fun.
You and your friends can make a game out of learn-lng Anguish, and you'll have fun developing your own style and observing each other's efforts. How to begin will be explained later.
2. Anguish Languish means verbal economy.
If words can be made to do double, triple, or even quadruple duty, it is obvious that we don't need so many of them. Wouldn't it be a comfort to know that, in the event of some unpredictable disaster wiping out half of our English vocabulary, we could, if we had learned Anguish, get along nicely with what we had left?
3. Anguish helps out in certain social situations.
People who aren't sure of themselves should learn Anguish. Suppose you have been asked to dinner by the president of your company and his wife. Since you haven't met your hostess, you have spent some time, before going, thinking up something to say that will really interest her. Finally you decide to ask, during the dinner:
"Mrs. Bellowell, didn't I hear that your brother Henry was discovered to be in collusion with those election crooks?"
The moment arrives, but you no sooner get her attention than you have sudden misgivings. Too late to change your subject, you slip deftly into Anguish:
"Mrs. Bellowell . . . deaden are hair ditcher broader Hennery worse dish-cupboard toe bang collision wet dozer liquor-chin crocks?"
Whether or not such a calamity is likely to occur seems entirely beside the point; in times like these one should be prepared for any emergency.
Chances are that everyone will be so fascinated by the graceful form of your question that not even your hostess will attach much importance to what you've asked.
4. Anguish relieves that terrible craving to tell dialect stories.
People who are addicted to telling dialect stories, or chronically frustrated because they can't tell them without Scotch brogue or Brooklynese getting mixed up with Deep South, will be overjoyed with Anguish. Anguish is definitely not a dialect, since it consists only o[ unchanged English words which anyone can pronounce. By imparting a delicate and indefinably exotic accent to one's speech, however, it not only provides a socially acceptable substitute for telling dialect stories, but adds to one's personal charm. [ANGUISH ANONYMOUS, an organization of former dialect story tellers, sponsored by SPAL, can be called ill difficult cases.]
5. Anguish improves your English
As your Anguish vocabulary increases, you'll find that your English vocabulary does, too, but you must be careful not to mix them up--something which people orphan do when they begin to use words accordion to the way they sound rather than how they're spelled. Words which are rare in English are often common enough in Anguish, so you have new opportunities to see them. Suppose you're spending a week-end reciting nursery rhymes in Anguish to a happy group of children or immature adults, and come across SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE, A POCKET FULL OF RYE. In Anguish, this, of course, is SINKER SUCKER SOCKS PANTS, APOCRYPHAL AWRY. This will give you an unexpected chance to use the last two words.
You'd be surprised to know how many people haven't the faintest idea what a xyster is until they hear a SPAL member talking about his fodder, murder, broader, and xyster. This makes them want to look xyster up. When they do, they find that, although xyster [The plural of xyster in Anguish, is c/sterns. See, in this book, the atory of Genter Alley] in Anguish, may mean sister, in English it's nothing in the world but a common raspatorium. Now raspatoria, and, therefore xysters are important surgical instruments, nice to know about before being scheduled for an aberration.
Speaking of xysters, hominy people know what higglery is? Very few, yet it occurs in the Anguish Languish version of something as well known as:
"Murder, mare argo art toe swarm?
"Yap, mar doling dodder,
Hank yore clues honor higglery larme
An dun gore norther warderl"
While you're looking up higglery, you might find larme, just a few pages away in Webster's Unabridged.
6. Practical Anguish.
Anguish can be used for group study at parties and entertainments; as a psychological test of something or other (we don't know just what), and as practice material in Speech and Typing classes. [A research psychologist plans to use Anguish Languish to provide data for a study entitled: "Individual and Sex Differences in Configurational Perception of Artificially Contrived but Phenomenologically Comprehensible Auditory Stimuli." This sounds as if it should mean something.]
How Can One Learn Anguish?
Read everything in this text aloud, and preferably in a group. Make a game of it.
You'll find it easier to understand Anguish when you hear it than when you see it. If you have trouble, listen to someone else read it to you, preferably someone who doesn't quite know what he's reading. This often gives the best effect. Watch what happens when the listeners understand better than the reader.
Don't try to read too fast and be sure to give all words their usual English pronunciation, regardless of the new meaning the word has acquired. An accurate pronunciation and good intonation are most effective.
3. Don't worry if you seem to have suddenly acquired a slight accent; your friends will tell you that this is most attractive.
The first item in this collection is a story familiar to all readers--LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Or, as you can probably say now in Anguish, LADLE RAT ROTTEN HUT.
Heresy ladle [urry starry toiling udder warts--warts welcher altar girdle delerent firmer once inner regional virgin. This sentence means: "Here is a little fairy story told in other words--words which are altogether different from the ones in the original version."
ORIOLE RATTY? DEN LESS GAT STUTTERED!