A most common complaint against the English language is the unpredictability of its pronunciation. A single sound may be represented by a slew of spellings. Likewise, a single spelling may conceal a plethora of pronunciations. As Ralph Beaman noted in the February 1975 Kickshaws, Webster's Third sanctions 60 variant pronunciations for TEMPERATURE. He also argued that W3 implicitly recognizes 70 ways to pronounce YES! However, the sequence OUGH is remarkable in that its nearly 30 pronunciations show the greatest diversity of sound.
"Through Tough Thorough Thought,"
Word Ways: Vol. 26
, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol26/iss2/9