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I'm still not clear where the pronunciation of the gh as f came from, and whether it is the same as laugh and other variants of the gh pronounced as f in words. Or did words from several sources go through a certain region and the gh to f thing impress words of diverse sources ? Can a knowledgeable person speak directly to this point ?

Vague memories of early school talk about it being a Welsh or Scottish thing. Is that true ?

Maybe we could thread words with this kind of distinctive pronunciation variant together into a category of which this would be one example, but what would we call it ?

I'm not sure. One possibility (but this is pure speculation) is that, like night, the gh was originally a German throaty K sound, which was once an English sound, but is no longer. I could be totally wrong though. I like the idea of a category, would it just include "gh" words or other spelling anomalies?  :-) Language Lover 04:01, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's correct, the cluster written in English as gh was used to represent the sound pronounced /x/ after back vowels and /ç/ after front vowels. The sound survives in Scots, spelt ch. In English, the pronunciation shifted to /∅/, /f/, or /g/ (as in burgh, bergh, etc.) over the course of time Leasnam (talk) 17:48, 18 March 2017 (UTC)