OU spelling

Guest   Thu Jun 14, 2007 6:21 pm GMT
Are there any easy rules to teach how to read the "ou" spelling to ESL learners?

For example: Though bough, stout Viscount, four, tough, youth...

There are certainly groups of words, but I don't remember being taught any specific rules.

Thank-you in advance
furrykef   Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:19 pm GMT
Hmm, I'm not sure there really are any rules, unfortunately. When it's followed by "gh", there's really no rule at all and you just have to memorize it. The good news is I don't think many such words are in common use now. It's amusing, if unfortunate, how "tough", "though", "through", and "thought" all use a different sound!

When it isn't followed by "gh", it's usually pronounced "ow" as in "cow": bounce, pounce, renounce, pronounce, doubt, trout, flout, clout, mouth, south, loud, cloud, proud, sound, pound, astound, hound, sour, flour...

But of course there are exceptions. In addition to "four" and "youth", there's coup, soup, vermouth, flourish... probably many more, but the "ow" words come to mind much more easily right now.

Then in non-American dialects, you often see "our" at the end of words like "colour", but at least these words have a consistent pronunciation (the "ou" is a schwa).

- Kef
Guest   Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:04 pm GMT
Thanks for reminding me of a few more examples, Kef.
greg   Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:53 pm GMT
1] <ou> = /uː/
Mots français : <accoutrements>, <brouhaha>, <douche>, <rouge>, <route>, <routine>, <souvenir> ;
Mots d'origine française : <acoustic>, <group>, <soup> ;
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <thou>, <through>, <uncouth>, <wound>, <you>, <youth>.

2] <ou> = /V/ (X-Sampa) = /ʌ/ (IPA)
Mots français : <couple>, <courage>, <cousin>, <trouble> ;
Mots d'origine française : <country>, <nourish>, <flourish> ;
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <enough>, <tough>, <young>.

3] <ou> = /Q/ (X-Sampa) = /ɒ/ (IPA)
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <cough>, <hough>, <trough>.

4] <ou> = /O:/ (X-Sampa) = /ɔː/ (IPA) → le plus souvent <ou> suivi de <gh> silencieux suivi de <t> = /t/
Mots français : <course> ;
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <bought>, <brought>, <fought>, <nought>, <ought>, <sought>, <thought>, <wrought>.

5] <ou> = /U/ (X-Sampa) = /ʊ/ (IPA)
Mots d'origine française : <courier> ;
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <could>, <should>, <would>.

6] <ou> = /3:/ (X-Sampa) = /ɜː/ (IPA)
Mots français : <bourbon>, <journal> ;
Mots d'origine française : <courtesy>, <journey>, <scourge>.

7] <ou> = /@/ (X-Sampa) = /ə/ (IPA)
Mots d'origine française : <endeavour>, <famous>, <humour>, <labour>.

8] <ou> = /@U_^/ (X-Sampa) = /əʊ̯/ (IPA)
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <although>, <boulder>, <dough>, <though>.

9] <ou> = /aU_^/ (X-Sampa) = /aʊ̯/ (IPA)
Mots d'origine française : <county>, <doubt>, <scout>, <sound> ;
Mots réécrits suivant une graphie francisante : <bough>, <plough>, <slough>.

Il y a sans doute des variations suivant les locuteurs et les bassins linguistiques. Mais là faut voir avec les anglophonistes d'Antimoon.
Guest   Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:12 am GMT
Interesting. I was thinking about IPA and the French connection today, but I hadn't formulated a way to make it fun and easy for a mixed-level class.

Thank-you for your thoughtful reply.
furrykef   Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:13 am GMT
Hmm, yeah, the situation is worse than I thought...

I normally pronounce "route" with the "ow" sound, though, but I believe that's an Americanism, and not all Americans pronounce it that way.
mjd   Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:59 pm GMT
Furrykef,

Here in the Northeast (I live in NJ) we tend to pronounce "route" the same way as "root." I am not sure at which geographic point the "ow" pronunciation begins to take hold...I suppose along the linguistic frontiers of the Midwest and the South.
Guest   Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:22 pm GMT
Paper rOWte, but rOOte 66...
Brit   Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:51 pm GMT
What is a paper rowte?
furrykef   Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:01 pm GMT
A paper route is the path the paperboy uses to deliver newspapers.

I do say "Route 66" in particular as "root 66", but I pronounce other road names with the "rowt" pronunciation. The reason for the exception is possibly the song about it... I never hear it pronounced "rowt 66".

- Kef
Supra   Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:18 pm GMT
I'm from Canada, and I pronounce it [raeut]
Josh Lalonde   Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:37 pm GMT
<<I'm from Canada, and I pronounce it [raeut]>>

Are you sure? Do you know X-SAMPA? If not, you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Sampa If so, that's a very odd pronunciation, and not one I've ever heard. I'm Canadian too, and I pronounce it [r/Uu?].
Lazar   Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:14 pm GMT
I always pronounce it ["r\u:t].
Brit   Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:45 pm GMT
I always say root.
Travis   Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:10 pm GMT
I normally pronounce it ["r\6U?], but I may use ["r\u?] at times as well, in particular when referring to the names of highways.