The arrival of the printing press, initially in London, meant that the accent of southern England became the basic standard. Then, in the mid-sixteenth century there was noticeable change in pronunciation. The guttural sound, still preserved in some Scottish accents, disappeared, for example--but the many words that retain the awkward gh spelling expect us to expectorate as we speak night, cough, plough, and so on.
The only substantial attempt to reform English spelling was Noah Webster's; the result is, however, that American and English spelling differ.
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