In the word laugh, it is pronounced “aff”.
In the word naught, it is pronounced “aw”.
Are there any other ways to pronounce “augh”?
Bonus points for etymology explaining from where these pronunciations come.
The real bugger here is -ugh, plus a preceding vowel. The variants are:
- [ɔf] – cough
- [ӕf] – laugh
- [ӕu] – bough
- [u] – through
- [o] – though
- [ɔ] – bought, naught
The problem with all of these is the sound formerly pronounced as [x], which has disappeared in Modern English. The way that it disappeared, though, was variable. In most cases it simply vanished, mutating the vowel preceding it in various ways, with further vowel mutations influenced by a following consonant. This was what happened in through, though, bought, etc.
The unusual case is the words in which -ugh represents [f]. This is, alas, an irregular sound change. The ordinary outcome of the Old English form of laugh would be something pronounced like law, but for irregular and unpredictable reasons the [x] became [f] in this case.