igh words

-igh words

Words that now have an -igh , like light and high , descend from two groups of Middle English words, distinguished by the length of the vowel. The chart below separates the original two groups by row:

Middle English sound ME spelling

Mod English sound

ModE spelling
[i:c]

high
sighen

[aɪ]

 

 

[aɪ]

high
sigh

 

knight
right

[ɪc] cnight
right

 

The voiceless palatal fricative [c], which can be heard in German ich , is made by raising the middle of the tongue to the hard palate. It is distinct from the voiceless velar fricative [x], as heard in the Scots dialect pronunciation of loch ; [x] is sounded farther back in the throat.

In these examples, when the [c] was lost, the preceding vowel, if short, was lengthened.