ough words Second Group

-ough words--Second Group.


The second group of -ough words begins with a Middle English diphthong:

Middle English sound ME spelling ModE spelling ModE sound
[ɔʊx]

boughte
ought

dough
though

cough
trough

bought
ought
[ɔ]
dough
though
[o]
cough
trough

[ɔf] or
[ɑf]

 

In the case of bought and ought , the original Old English monophthong vowels had become, in Middle English, the diphthong [ɔʊ] under the influence of the fricative [x], which was subsequently lost. [x] is a voiceless velar fricative, heard for example in the Scots dialectal pronunciation of the word loch . Dough and though followed a similar path from Old English, though in these instances the Middle English diphthong later reverted to a monophthong and was lengthened; hence it became available for raising during the Tudor Vowel Shift.

With examples like cough and trough the fricative changed to [f], and the diphthong became a monophthong without lengthening.