English Orthography - Spelling Irregularities - "Ough" Words

"Ough" Words

Main article: Ough (combination)

The most notorious group of letters in the English language, ough, is commonly pronounced at least ten different ways, six of which are illustrated in the construct, Though the tough cough and hiccough plough him through, which is quoted by Robert A. Heinlein in The Door into Summer to illustrate the difficulties facing automated speech transcription and reading. Ough is in fact a word in its own right; it is an exclamation of disgust similar to ugh.

  • though: /oʊ/ as in toe; (other examples: dough)
  • tough: /ʌf/ as in cuff; (other examples: rough, enough)
  • cough: /ɒf/ as in off; (other examples: Gough (name, some pronunciations))
  • hiccough (a now uncommon variant of hiccup): /ʌp/ as in up; (unique)
  • plough: /aʊ/ as in cow; (other examples: sough, drought, bough, and the name Doughty)
  • through: /uː/ as in blue;
  • nought: /ɔː/ as in caught; (other examples: ought, sought, thought, brought)
  • lough: /ɒx/ with a rough breathing sound like the ch in loch

Finally, there is the place name Loughborough, where the first ough has the sound as in cuff and the second rhymes with thorough.

Read more about this topic:  English Orthography, Spelling Irregularities

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