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  Rick Sutcliffe

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figures of speech homophones homonyms homographs oxymorons ==> opundo home

English pronouncements

If it weren't hard enough learning the awkward and contrary language of English for the inconsistent gammar, the pronunciation could drive the beginner to madness.

The combination "ough" can be pronounced in fourteen different ways.

1. awe: thought, bought, fought, brought, ought, sought, nought, wrought

2. uff: enough, rough, tough, slough, Clough, chough, McGough (alt of 3)

3. ooh: through, slough, McGough (preferred)

4. oh: though, although, dough, doughnut, broughm, Ough, furlough, Greenough, thorough

5. off: cough, trough

6. ow: bough, plough, sough

7. ou: drought, doughty, Stoughton

8. uh: Scarborough, borough, thorough (alt), thoroughbred, Macdonough, Poughkeepsie

9. up: hiccoughed

10. oth: trough (alt)

11. ock: lough, hough

12. oc[h] (aspirated): lough

13. ahf: Gough

14. og: Coughlin (also per #5)

The following sentence contains them all:
Rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman John Gough strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough on Coughlin road near the lough (dry due to drought), he coughed and hiccoughed, then checked his horse's houghs and washed up in a trough.

Note: Loughborough is #2, followed by #8

By contrast, I can only find seven ways to pronounce the combination "augh" though confusion is restored because four of these duplicate ones of the above.

1. awe: aught, caught, daughter, distraught, faugh, fraught, haughty, naught, onslaught, usquebaugh

5. off: Laughlin

11. ock: haugh, saugh

13. ahf: draught, laugh

15. ack: kiaugh, saugh (alt)

16: ugh: Taughanok

17: ah: usquebaugh (alt)

The following sentence contains them all:
Saugh-faced, haughty John Laughlin, from a haugh by Taughanock Falls, had a merry laugh when he'd been into the usquebaugh.

["saugh" = sallow; "haugh" = a corner of land; "usquebaugh" = whiskey.]

There are only two words in Mirriam-Webster with the combination "eugh" and they generate three pronounciations:

18. oog: Breughel

19. oig: Breughel (alt)

20. uk: sleugh

There appear to be no words at all with the combination "iugh" or "yugh". However, it would be easy to coin "phiugh" [pronounced like "phew" but with emphasis, and to allow "yugh" as a high-toned "yuk".

And, while on the subject of spelling and pronunciation, here's one Pax picked up from a sig:

If GH can stand for P as in Hiccough

If OUGH can stand for O as in Dough

If PHTH can stand for T as in Phthisis

If EIGH can stand for A as in Neighbor

If TTE can stand for T as in Gazette

If EAU can stand for O as in Plateau

Then the right way to spell POTATO should be:


Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs

Woe to the beginning student of English who is faced with the fact that our contrary language borrows words from a variety of places, sometimes different words with the same spelling (which may or may not be pronounced the same way) or with the same pronunciation (which may not be spelled the same way)


Homophones are words that are identical with each other in pronunciation, but differing in origin, spelling, and meaning.

Homonyms are words that are identical with each other in pronunciation and spelling, but differing in origin and meaning.

Homographs are words that are identical in spelling but different in origin and meaning, such as "wind" (a clock) vs "wind" that blows from the East. If they are in fact pronounced differently (as these two), they are also termed heteronyms or isonyms.

NOTE: Most people use "homonyms" as a synonym for 'either "homonyms" or "homophones".' Also, dictionaries do not always agree on the above definitions.

I provide lists of varying completeness at the links indicated.

Meanwhile, remember this:
Time flies like an arrow, but
fruit flies like a banana.


Worse still are the phrases that appear to be self-contradictory because of some quirk of meaning, pronunciation, interpretation, or cultural bias/preference/experience. These are called oxymorons.

A list may be found at the link indicated.

figures of speech homophones homonyms homographs oxymorons ==> opundo home


Alan Cooper's list of Homophones
Spelling Doctor.com
The Homonym/Homophone Page
Judy Vorfeld -- ConfusingWords.com
University of Winnipeg Homonym lists
A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia
Pronunciation of McGough

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Updated 2005 12 28