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⟨gu⟩

From Teflpedia

Gu is a consonant digraph consisting of the letters G and U.[1] It is found in English and other related languages, particularly French.

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

⟨gu⟩ is usually pronounced as a (voiced velar stop /g/ sound. However, after ⟨n⟩, e.g. dengue, linguist, tongue, etc.[2] it tends to be pronounced as a voiced velar nasal /ŋ/ (sometimes /ŋg/). And, if this is followed by another syllable, then ⟨n+gu⟩ is pronounced /ŋw/ (or sometimes /ŋgw/), e.g. penguin /peŋ(g)wɪn/. Loan words from Spanish are often pronounced /gw/, e.g. Guatemala /gwɒtəmɑ:lə/ or Guantanamo Bay /gwænˈtæn.ə.məʊ beɪ/.

Other exceptions include:

  • ague /ˈeɪ.gju:/
  • argue /ɑ:(r)gju:/
  • Montague /ˈmɒn.tə.gju:/
  • Prague /ˈprɑ:g/
  • Segue /ˈseg.weɪ/ is derived from Italian.

Spelling[edit | edit source]

Onset[edit | edit source]

In English, words beginning gu + vowel letter, gu should be considered as a digraph. So for example:

  • gu+a… guarantee, guarantor, guard, guardian, Guatemala, etc.[3]
  • gu+e guerilla, Guernsey, guess, guest.[4]
  • gu+i guide, Guillaume, guild, guilt, guinea, Guinea, Guinness[5]guise, Guise,[6] guitar.
  • gu+y guy, Guy, Guyana.

Also, some compounds, e.g. disguise.

Note however, this digraph is not found in words that are gu+consonant, e.g. gun, gull, gut, etc.

Coda[edit | edit source]

Gu also occurs in coda position.[7] and its spelling patterns strongly parallel qu. As gu cannot be used to end a word, it must be followed by E, which may be either silent E or magic E.

In the case of ⟨i-e⟩, the I is mutated to the ꜰʟᴇᴇᴄᴇ vowel phoneme rather than the ᴘʀɪᴄᴇ vowel phoneme, following French rules for magic E.

Silent E is found in any word ending in the following:

  • -logue /-lɒg/, e.g. dialogue.
  • -gogue /-gɒg/, e.g. synagogue.
  • -league /li:g/, e.g. colleague.
  • -rgue, e.g. morgue.

In American spelling ⟨-logue⟩ is “simplified” to ⟨-log⟩, e.g. dialoguedialog.

Cognates[edit | edit source]

Gu is often cognate with W. Gu-words tend to be Latin origin, whereas W-words tend to be of Germanic origin. Sometimes this change is noticeable across related languages: Compare these doublets:

  • guardian/guard and ward
  • guarantee and warranty
  • Guillaume and William
  • French: guerre and English war.
  • guise and wise
  • etc.

References[edit | edit source]