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yiannaCH Jul 3rd, 2009 09:32 am

Grammar rule for pronunciation of : through, though & enough...
Does anyone know the answer to this conundrum? I have often wondered why the difference in the pronunciation but cannot find the answer anywhere...... :doh:
I have only 2 years English teaching experience and as I am from Cyprus... well my English is good but sometimes.:whistle:

Thank you

Johanna :cool:

susan53 Jul 3rd, 2009 12:16 pm

Re: Grammar rule for pronunciation of : through, though & enough...
This is nothing to do with grammar - it's a phonological phenomenon, and connected to the fact that pronunciation in English has changed much faster than spelling .

First of all, the -gh. In Middle English this was pronounced as a velar fricative - that's the sound spelt "ch" eg in the Scots word "loch" or the German "ich". It's phonemic symbol is /x/. However, gradually this either changed to a /f/ sound (eg enough, cough, laugh, bought) or was dropped all together ( eg though, through)

Then the vowels. If you take "through" - in Chaucer's time there was no standard spelling. It could be written thurgh, thorgh throgh through thorogh thorough or thurw. Gradually the written language became standardised and by Shakespeare's time "through" had settled to either through or thorough. During this time though, what is known as the Great Vowel Shift was happening - vowels were changing quality. How this happened is very complex - this is an good site if you want the details.

But as I said, although the pronunciation of both the vowels and consonants changed, the written form didn't. And we've ended up with words whose written form actually reflects a much earlier pronunciation, which was radically different from the modern pronunciation.

So - nothing to do with grammar. The "rules" are phonological - but unfortunately they're those of the phonology of the 13th to 17th centuries :(

yiannaCH Jul 5th, 2009 12:59 pm

Re: Grammar rule for pronunciation of : through, though & enough...
Thank you Susan.... The question came up in an interview and I hadn't a clue what the answer was.... Thank you for your enlightment.... :D

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