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Hi,
I have hard time figuring out whether to pronounce the"f" sound for words ending in ph.
For example, i saw a city in England called "Desborough". I remember there is a city called Scarborough. Or they pronounce like "through" and "rough"?Is there a rule for this?

Thanks,
Comments  
You wrote "ph" but you gave two cities ending in "gh."

In the use, those would both be said as though it ended in burrow. That's not quite right - it's a cross between 'bro with the same sound as throw - and burrow. But they certainly don't have the same sound as "rough."
Here's the pronunciation for "borough".

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/borough

When suffixed to another syllable or two, the "bor" tends to become "br".

CJ
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thank your very much Grammar Geek. How about the word trough? is it the same true?

thanks,
Final ough

= ow as in cow: bough, plough, slough, sough

= oa as in oat: though, although, dough, borough, furlough, thorough

= oo as in moon: through, slough

= uff as in stuff: tough, rough, slough, enough, sough

= off as in off: cough, trough

= up as in up: hiccough

CJ
What a crazy language!
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The final two syllables of place names in Britain that end in ough, like Scarborough, are correctly pronounced -buh-ruh. So Scarborough is pronounced ska-buh-ruh. The same applies to Edinburgh, which although not ending in ough, is also correctly pronounced ed-in-buh-ruh. Of course, a lot depends on how carefully one enunciates the individual syllables. Laziness of speech in some regions inevitably leads to the last two syllables becoming one, so we find Scarborough pronounced as ska-bruh and Edinburgh as ed-in-bruh, though that's generally accepted without too much criticism.

But whatever you do, do not pronounce names like Buckingham as the laughable buk-ing-ham, with the emphasis on the last syllable. It's correctly pronounced buk-ing-uhm with a very slight emphasis on the first syllable.

BillJ
BillJBut whatever you do, do not pronounce names like Buckingham as the laughable buk-ing-ham
Likewise with Oregon, which is not OR-e-GON, but OR-i-guhn.

We do have Birmingham as BUR-ming-HAM here, however.

CJ
There will always be pronunciations favored by the locals that seem counterintuitive to others, and that immediately mark people as being "from away."

Topsham and Lancaster are two I've lived near.

Top-SHAM shows you've never set foot in the town, and Lan-CASTer also marks you as a non-native.
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