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12.17: Something About < gu > and < gh >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Something About <gu> and <gh>

1. Usually when a <g> is followed by the letters <e>, \begin{align*}<\mathrm{i}>\end{align*} , or <y>, it is pronounced [j] and is called soft<g>.

2. Sometimes when a [g] sound has an <e>, \begin{align*}<\mathrm{i}>\end{align*}, or <y> right after it, the [g] sound will be spelled <g> with an insulating \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} standing between the <g> and the <e>, \begin{align*}<\mathrm{i}>\end{align*} , or <y> to keep the <g> from looking as if it should be pronounced [j]. In a very few words the sound [g] is spelled <gh>, as in ghost. Underline the letters that spell [g] in the following words:

\begin{align*}& \text{\underline{g}luey} && \text{collea\underline{g}ue} && \text{dis\underline{g}uise} && \text{\underline{g}uys} && \text{a\underline{g}hast}\\ & \text{\underline{gh}astly} && \text{\underline{gh}oulish} && \text{\underline{gh}etto} && \text{\underline{gh}osts} && \text{spa\underline{gh}etti}\\ & \text{pla\underline{g}ue} && \text{a\underline{g}riculture} && \text{a\underline{g}reements} && \text{\underline{g}uilty} && \text{din\underline{gh}y}\\ & \text{ba\underline{gg}age} && \text{lu\underline{gg}age} && \text{tobo\underline{gg}an} && \text{a\underline{gg}ressive} && \text{in\underline{g}redient}\\ & \text{lea\underline{g}ue} && \text{su\underline{gg}estion} && \text{an\underline{g}les} && \text{bedra\underline{gg}led} && \text{boondo\underline{gg}le}\end{align*}

3. Now sort the words into these groups:

Words in which [g] is spelled . . .
<g> with an insulating \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} <g> <gh> <gg>
plague league ghastly baggage
colleague gluey ghoulish luggage
disguise agriculture ghetto bedraggled
guys suggestion ghosts toboggan
guilty agreements spaghetti aggressive
angles aghast boondoggled
ingredient dinghy

4. There is one common element that means “speech” and that contains the <g> spelling of [g] with an insulating \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*}. The element is logue. Remember that logue means “words or speech,” and be ready to discuss these questions:

If dia- means “two,” what is a dialogue?

If mono- means “one,” what is a monologue?

If pro- means “before,” what is a prologue?

What is a travelogue?

If cata- means “complete,” why is a catalogue called a catalogue?

Words that end <logue> can usually also be spelled <log>. Dialog, monolog, prolog, travelog, catalog, epilog are all correct spellings, too.

5. You've seen that an insulating \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} is sometimes used after <g> to spell [g] before <e>, \begin{align*}<\mathrm{i}>\end{align*} , or <y>. There are a few words where [g] is actually spelled <gu> in front of \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}:

\begin{align*}& \text{guarantee} && \text{guard} && \text{safeguard} && \text{guardian}\end{align*}

Originally these words were spelled with no \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} in English. The \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} was added in the \begin{align*}16^{th}\end{align*} century, probably to reflect an older French spelling with <gu>, pronounced [gw].

Word Histories. Oddly, the Greek prefix epi- meant both “before” and “after.” So an epilogue is writing that comes at the end of a book (just the opposite of a prologue), but an epigraph is writing that comes at the beginning of a book.

Teaching Notes.

Items 2-3. For more on the story of <gh>, see Book 5, Lesson 8.

Item 5. Guard and guarantee come from French, but the French had borrowed them not from Latin but from Frankish, a Germanic language of central Europe. The initial sound in the Frankish words was [w], and the French spelled them <gu>, probably pronounced [gw]. In time the [w] dropped out, but the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} stayed. Guard has a close relative in ward , which keeps the original Frankish [w]. The same relationship holds between guarantee (orguaranty) and warranty. Since the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} originally spelled [w], it was functioning as a consonant, so in guard, guarantee and the few other <gua> words we will treat the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{u}>\end{align*} as part of the spelling of the consonant [g]: [g] = <gu>.

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Feb 23, 2012
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