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How come we write drought and draught but pronounce [draut] and [dra: ft] or write enough and though but pronounce [i’naf] and [đou]?

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Jason Bassford, Mark Beadles, Scott, David Nov 12 '18 at 23:06

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  • 2
    Because it's English. – Hot Licks Nov 10 '18 at 12:45

Short answer: the Great Vowel Shift.

Long answer: before the Great Vowel Shift began around 1400, there was a phoneme /x/ (written gh or ȝh) in Middle English. By Modern English, /x/ had either mutated to /f/ or had become silent in standard dialects.

Long vowels had generally shifted to become various diphthongs. Vowels are notoriously slippery characters in the continuing tale of the GVS.

  • The long answer of yours is not very long. – Konrad Gajewski Nov 10 '18 at 14:31

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