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English pronunciation

I was re reading Bill Bryson's "Mother tongue" and found these tricky ones














Can you pronounce these pairs correctly?

and a real tough group, through, though, thought, tough, plough, thorough, hiccough, lough, cough

May 11, 2019 11:58 AM
Comments · 9

Now how did you ever get "catsup" for ketchup?

That's an interesting one. The word comes from a Malay word for a spicy fish dip, pronounced something like 'kichap', and there were various English spellings for a  long time. As as I understand it, when Mr Heinz was launching his sauce in the 1870s, he decided to use the then unusual spelling 'ketchup' to make it stand out from all the other rival products who generally spelt their condiment 'catsup'.

One of the many examples of a North American usage predating a current British one.

May 12, 2019

Interesting post

The word "hiccough" must be the British spelling of the word because I have only seen the version that is used in Canada and the US, "hiccup".

In 1880, the word hiccough was 3 times more frequently used in writing than was hiccup.
In the year 2000, hiccup was used 5 times more often than hiccough (source: ngram)

The word "lough" is another word I have never seen. According to my sources, the word is the Irish form of the word loch and is pronounced as "lak".

Here's my rendering of the short list "through, though, thought, tough, plough, thorough, hiccough, lough, cough"

May 11, 2019
The tough group!!! that's the worst, sometimes it is difficult to pronounce them in the right way and some students get confused quite easily :))
May 11, 2019

nope.  Droll is more like "dole" with an "r".

Grieve is more like "greeve", while  sieve is more "sive"

hope that helps

May 11, 2019
Hey, Bill, this is how I pronounce the words:

And these are the first two paragraphs of a poem:

Find the full poem here:

May 11, 2019
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