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A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...

vowel
sounds within the same
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue (and/or other parts of the speech apparatus) moves during the pronunciation of the vowel. In most
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
of
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, the phrase "no highway cowboy" () has five distinct diphthongs, one in every
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
. Diphthongs contrast with
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in ...
s, where the tongue or other speech organs do not move and the syllable contains only a single vowel sound. For instance, in English, the word ''ah'' is spoken as a monophthong (), while the word ''ow'' is spoken as a diphthong in most varieties (). Where two adjacent vowel sounds occur in different syllables (e.g. in the English word ''re-elect'') the result is described as
hiatus Hiatus may refer to: *Hiatus (linguistics), the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in separate syllables *Hiatus (television), a break of several weeks or more in television scheduling *Hiatus (anatomy), a natural fissure in a structure *Hi ...
, not as a diphthong. (The English word ''hiatus'' () is itself an example of both hiatus and diphthongs.) Diphthongs often form when separate vowels are run together in rapid speech during a conversation. However, there are also unitary diphthongs, as in the English examples above, which are heard by listeners as single-vowel sounds (
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s).


Transcription

In the
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seq ...
(IPA), monophthongs are transcribed with one symbol, as in English ''sun'' , in which represents a monophthong. Diphthongs are transcribed with two symbols, as in English ''high'' or ''cow'' , in which and represent diphthongs. Diphthongs may be transcribed with two vowel symbols or with a vowel symbol and a
semivowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. T ...
symbol. In the words above, the less prominent member of the diphthong can be represented with the symbols for the palatal approximant and the labiovelar approximant , with the symbols for the close vowels and , or the symbols for the
near-close vowel 250px, Vowel diagram illustrating the and contrasts in Sotho, from . The near-close vowels are normally transcribed without diacritics (i.e. as and , respectively), or even with the symbols for close central vowels ( and , respectively), though ...
s and : Some transcriptions are broader or narrower (less precise or more precise phonetically) than others. Transcribing the English diphthongs in ''high'' and ''cow'' as or is a less precise or broader transcription, since these diphthongs usually end in a vowel sound that is
more open
more open
than the semivowels or the
close vowel A close vowel, also known as a high vowel (in U.S. terminology), is any in a class of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech ...
s . Transcribing the diphthongs as is a more precise or narrower transcription, since the English diphthongs usually end in the
near-close vowel 250px, Vowel diagram illustrating the and contrasts in Sotho, from . The near-close vowels are normally transcribed without diacritics (i.e. as and , respectively), or even with the symbols for close central vowels ( and , respectively), though ...
s . The non-syllabic
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A sy ...
, the
inverted breve Inverted breve or arch is a diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the ...

inverted breve
below , is placed under the less prominent part of a diphthong to show that it is part of a diphthong rather than a vowel in a separate syllable: . When there is no contrastive vowel sequence in the language, the diacritic may be omitted. Other common indications that the two sounds are not separate vowels are a superscript, , or a tie bar, or . The tie bar can be useful when it is not clear which symbol represents the syllable nucleus, or when they have equal weight. Superscripts are especially used when an on- or off-glide is particularly fleeting. The period is the opposite of the non-syllabic diacritic: it represents a syllable break. If two vowels next to each other belong to two different
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s (
hiatus Hiatus may refer to: *Hiatus (linguistics), the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in separate syllables *Hiatus (television), a break of several weeks or more in television scheduling *Hiatus (anatomy), a natural fissure in a structure *Hi ...
), meaning that they do not form a diphthong, they can be transcribed with two vowel symbols with a period in between. Thus, ''lower'' can be transcribed , with a period separating the first syllable, , from the second syllable, . The non-syllabic diacritic is used only when necessary. It is typically omitted when there is no ambiguity, as in . No words in English have the vowel sequences , so the non-syllabic diacritic is unnecessary.


Types


Falling and rising

Falling (or descending) diphthongs start with a vowel quality of higher
prominence In topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography is a f ...
(higher pitch or volume) and end in a semivowel with less prominence, like in ''eye'', while rising (or ascending) diphthongs begin with a less prominent semivowel and end with a more prominent full vowel, similar to the in ''yard''. (Sometimes, however, the terms "falling" and "rising" are used, instead, to refer to
vowel height A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables * ...
, i.e. as synonyms of the terms "closing" and "opening". See below.) The less prominent component in the diphthong may also be transcribed as an
approximant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are conso ...
, thus in ''eye'' and in ''yard''. However, when the diphthong is analysed as a single
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
, both elements are often transcribed with vowel symbols (, ). Semivowels and approximants are not equivalent in all treatments, and in the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
and
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
languages, among others, many
phonetician Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of lingu ...
s do not consider rising combinations to be diphthongs, but rather sequences of approximant and vowel. There are many languages (such as
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
) that contrast one or more rising diphthongs with similar sequences of a glide and a vowel in their phonetic inventory (see
semivowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. T ...
for examples).


Closing, opening, and centering

In closing diphthongs, the second element is more close than the first (e.g. ); in opening diphthongs, the second element is more
open Open or OPEN may refer to: Music * Open (band) Open is a band. Background Drummer Pete Neville has been involved in the Sydney/Australian music scene for a number of years. He has recently completed a Masters in screen music at the Australian ...
(e.g. ). Closing diphthongs tend to be falling (), and opening diphthongs are generally rising (), as open vowels are more sonorous and therefore tend to be more prominent. However, exceptions to this rule are not rare in the world's languages. In
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
, for instance, the opening diphthongs and are true falling diphthongs, since they begin louder and with higher pitch and fall in prominence during the diphthong. A third, rare type of diphthong that is neither opening nor closing is height-harmonic diphthongs, with both elements at the same vowel height. These may have occurred in
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventu ...
: * ''beorht'' "bright" * ''ċeald'' "cold" A centering diphthong is one that begins with a more peripheral vowel and ends with a more central one, such as , , and in
Received Pronunciation Received Pronunciation (often abbreviated as RP) is the accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a ...
or and in
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
. Many centering diphthongs are also opening diphthongs (, ). Diphthongs may contrast in how far they open or close. For example,
Samoan Samoan may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the Samoan Islands, an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean ** Something of, from, or related to Samoa, a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands ** Something of, from, o ...
contrasts low-to-mid with low-to-high diphthongs: * ''’ai'' 'probably' * ''’ae'' 'but' * ''’auro'' 'gold' * ''ao'' 'a cloud'


Narrow and wide

Narrow diphthongs are the ones that end with a vowel which on a vowel chart is quite close to the one that begins the diphthong, for example Northern Dutch , and . Wide diphthongs are the opposite - they require a greater tongue movement, and their offsets are farther away from their starting points on the vowel chart. Examples of wide diphthongs are RP/GA English and .


Length

Languages differ in the length of diphthongs, measured in terms of
morae A mora (plural ''morae'' or ''moras''; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that describes syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress (linguistics), stress or timing (linguistics), timing. A mora is a sound which comes after ...
. In languages with phonemically short and long vowels, diphthongs typically behave like long vowels, and are pronounced with a similar length. In languages with only one phonemic length for pure vowels, however, diphthongs may behave like pure vowels. For example, in
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, both monophthongs and diphthongs are pronounced long before single consonants and short before most consonant clusters. Some languages contrast short and long diphthongs. In some languages, such as
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventu ...
, these behave like short and long vowels, occupying one and two
morae A mora (plural ''morae'' or ''moras''; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that describes syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress (linguistics), stress or timing (linguistics), timing. A mora is a sound which comes after ...
, respectively. Languages that contrast three quantities in diphthongs are extremely rare, but not unheard of;
Northern Sami Northern or North Sami ( ; se, davvisámegiella ; fi, pohjoissaame ; no, nordsamisk; sv, nordsamiska; disapproved exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term u ...
is known to contrast long, short and "finally stressed" diphthongs, the last of which are distinguished by a long second element.


Phonology

In some languages, diphthongs are single
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, while in others they are analyzed as sequences of two vowels, or of a vowel and a semivowel.


Sound changes

Certain sound changes relate to diphthongs and
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in ...
s.
Vowel breaking In historical linguistics, vowel breaking, vowel fracture, or diphthongization is the sound change of a monophthong into a diphthong A diphthong ( or ; from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; ...
or diphthongization is a
vowel shift#REDIRECT Vowel shift A vowel shift is a systematic sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more ge ...
in which a monophthong becomes a diphthong.
Monophthongization Monophthongization is a sound change by which a diphthong becomes a monophthong, a type of vowel shift. In languages that have undergone monophthongization, digraphs that formerly represented diphthongs now represent monophthongs. The opposite ...
or smoothing is a vowel shift in which a diphthong becomes a monophthong.


Difference from semivowels and vowel sequences

While there are a number of similarities, diphthongs are not the same phonologically as a combination of a vowel and an approximant or glide. Most importantly, diphthongs are fully contained in the syllable nucleus while a semivowel or glide is restricted to the syllable boundaries (either the onset or the coda). This often manifests itself phonetically by a greater degree of constriction, but the phonetic distinction is not always clear. The English word ''yes'', for example, consists of a palatal glide followed by a monophthong rather than a rising diphthong. In addition, the segmental elements must be different in diphthongs and so when it occurs in a language, it does not contrast with . However, it is possible for languages to contrast and . Diphthongs are also distinct from sequences of simple vowels. The Bunaq language of Timor, for example, distinguishes 'exit' from 'be amused', 'dance' from 'stare at', and 'choice' from 'good'.


Examples


Germanic languages


English

In words coming from
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the Wor ...
, most cases of the Modern English diphthongs originate from the Middle English long monophthongs through the
Great Vowel Shift The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of the English language that took place primarily between 1400 and 1700, beginning in southern England and today having influenced effectively all dialects of English. Through ...

Great Vowel Shift
, although some cases of originate from the Middle English diphthongs .


Dutch

The dialect of Hamont (in Limburg) has five centring diphthongs and contrasts long and short forms of , , , and .


German


=Standard German

= Phonemic diphthongs in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
: * as in ''Ei'' ‘egg’ * as in ''Maus'' ‘mouse’ * as in ''neu'' ‘new’ In the varieties of German that vocalize the in the
syllable coda A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building bl ...
, other diphthongal combinations may occur. These are only phonetic diphthongs, not phonemic diphthongs, since the vocalic pronunciation alternates with consonantal pronunciations of if a vowel follows, cf. ''du hörst'' ‘you hear’ – ''ich höre'' ‘I hear’. These phonetic diphthongs may be as follows: : notes that the length contrast is not very stable before non-prevocalic and that ", following the pronouncing dictionaries (, ) judge the vowel in ''Art'', ''Schwert'', ''Fahrt'' to be long, while the vowel in ''Ort'', ''Furcht'', ''hart'' is supposed to be short. The factual basis of this presumed distinction seems very questionable." He goes on stating that in his own dialect, there is no length difference in these words, and that judgements on vowel length in front of non-prevocalic which is itself vocalized are problematic, in particular if precedes. :According to the 'lengthless' analysis, the aforementioned 'long' diphthongs are analyzed as , , , , , , and . This makes non-prevocalic and homophonous as or . Non-prevocalic and may also merge, but the vowel chart in shows that they have somewhat different starting points. : also states that "laxing of the vowel is predicted to take place in shortened vowels; it does indeed seem to go hand in hand with the vowel shortening in many cases."


=Bernese German

= The diphthongs of some
German dialects German dialects are the various traditional local varieties of the German language. Though varied by region, those of the southern half of Germany beneath the Benrath line In German linguistics, the Benrath line (German: ''Benrather Linie'') i ...
differ from standard German diphthongs. The
Bernese German Bernese German (Standard German Standard German, High German, or more precisely Standard High German (german: Standarddeutsch, , or, in Switzerland, ), is the standardized variety of the German language The German language (, ) is a We ...
diphthongs, for instance, correspond rather to the
Middle High German Middle High German (MHG; german: Mittelhochdeutsch (Mhd.)) is the term for the form of German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * F ...
diphthongs than to standard German diphthongs: * as in ''lieb'' ‘dear’ * as in ''guet'' ‘good’ * as in ''müed'' ‘tired’ * as in ''Bei'' ‘leg’ * as in ''Boum'' ‘tree’ * as in ''Böim'' ‘trees’ Apart from these phonemic diphthongs, Bernese German has numerous phonetic diphthongs due to
L-vocalization ''L''-vocalization, in linguistics, is a process by which a lateral approximant sound such as , or, perhaps more often, velarized , is replaced by a vowel or a semivowel. Types There are two types of ''l''-vocalization: * A labiovelar approxim ...
in the syllable coda, for instance the following ones: * as in ''Stau'' ‘stable’ * as in ''Staau'' ‘steel’ * as in ''Wäut'' ‘world’ * as in ''wääut'' ‘elects’ * as in ''tschúud'' ‘guilty’


Yiddish

Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...
has three diphthongs: * as in פּליטה ('refugee' f.) * as in נײַן ('nine') * as in אופֿן ('way') Diphthongs may reach a higher target position (towards ) in situations of coarticulatory phenomena or when words with such vowels are being emphasized.


Norwegian

There are five diphthongs in the Oslo dialect of
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
, all of them falling: * as in ''nei'', "no" * as in ''øy'', "island" * as in ''sau'', "sheep" * as in ''hai'', "shark" * as in ''joik'', "Sami song" An additional diphthong, , occurs only in the word ''hui'' in the expression ''i hui og hast'' "in great haste". The number and form of diphthongs vary between dialects.


Faroese

Diphthongs in
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
are: * as in ''bein'' (can also be short) * as in ''havn'' * as in ''har'', ''mær'' * as in ''hey'' * as in ''nevnd'' * as in ''nøvn'' * as in ''hús'' * as in ''mín'', ''bý'', ''ið'' (can also be short) * as in ''ráð'' * as in ''hoyra'' (can also be short) * as in ''sól'', ''ovn''


Icelandic

Diphthongs in
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
are the following: * as in ''átta'', "eight" * as in ''nóg'', "enough" * as in ''auga'', "eye" * as in ''kær'', "dear" * as in ''þeir'', "they" * as in ''koja'', "bunk bed", "berth" (rare, only in handful of words) Combinations of semivowel and a vowel are the following: * as in ''éta'', "eat" * as in ''jata'', "manger" * as in ''já'', "yes" * as in ''joð'', "iodine", "jay", "yod" (only in a handful of words of foreign origin) * as in ''jól'', "Christmas" * as in ''jötunn'', "giant" * as in ''jæja'', "oh well" * as in ''jú'', "yes"


Romance languages


French

In French, , , and may be considered true diphthongs (that is, fully contained in the syllable nucleus: ). Other sequences are considered part of a glide formation process that turns a high vowel into a semivowel (and part of the syllable onset) when followed by another vowel. Diphthongs * as in ''roi'' "king" * as in ''groin'' "muzzle" * as in ''huit'' "eight" * as in ''juin'' "June" Semivowels * as in ''oui'' "yes" * as in ''lien'' "bond" * as in ''Ariège'' * as in ''travail'' "work" * as in ''Marseille'' * as in ''bille'' "ball" * as in ''feuille'' "leaf" * as in ''grenouille'' "frog" * as in ''vieux'' "old"


=Quebec French

= In
Quebec French Quebec French (french: français québécois ; also known as Québécois French or Québécois) is the predominant variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of pol ...
, long vowels are generally diphthongized in informal speech when stressed. * as in ''tard'' "late" * as in ''père'' "father" * as in ''fleur'' "flower" * as in ''autre'' "other" * as in ''neutre'' "neutral" * as in ''banque'' "bank" * as in ''mince'' "thin" * as in ''bon'' "well" * as in ''un'' "one"


Catalan

Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * Ca ...
possesses a number of phonetic diphthongs, all of which begin (''rising diphthongs'') or end (''falling diphthongs'') in or . In standard Eastern Catalan, rising diphthongs (that is, those starting with or ) are possible only in the following contexts: * in word initial position, e.g. ''iogurt''. * Both occur between vowels as in ''feia'' and ''veiem''. * In the sequences or and vowel, e.g. ''guant'', ''quota'', ''qüestió'', ''pingüí'' (these exceptional cases even lead some scholars to hypothesize the existence of rare labiovelar phonemes and ). There are also certain instances of ''compensatory diphthongization'' in the Majorcan dialect so that ('logs') (in addition to deleting the palatal plosive) develops a compensating palatal glide and surfaces as (and contrasts with the unpluralized ). Diphthongization compensates for the loss of the palatal stop (part of Catalan's segment loss compensation). There are other cases where diphthongization compensates for the loss of point of articulation features (property loss compensation) as in ('year') vs ('years'). The dialectal distribution of this compensatory diphthongization is almost entirely dependent on the dorsal plosive (whether it is velar or palatal) and the extent of consonant assimilation (whether or not it is extended to palatals).


Portuguese

The Portuguese diphthongs are formed by the
labio-velar approximant The voiced labialized velar approximant is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronoun ...
and
palatal approximant The voiced palatal approximant, or yod, is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronoun ...

palatal approximant
with a vowel,
European Portuguese European Portuguese ( pt, português europeu, ), also known as Portuguese of Portugal (Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portugues ...
has 14 phonemic diphthongs (10 oral and 4 nasal), all of which are falling diphthongs formed by a vowel and a nonsyllabic high vowel.
Brazilian Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese (', or ' ) or also ' is the set of dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spok ...
has roughly the same amount, although the European and non-European dialects have slightly different pronunciations ( is a distinctive feature of some southern and central Portuguese dialects, especially that of Lisbon). A onglide after or and before all vowels as in ''quando'' ('when') or ''guarda'' ('guard') may also form rising diphthongs and
triphthong In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
s. Additionally, in casual speech, adjacent heterosyllabic vowels may combine into diphthongs and triphthongs or even sequences of them. In addition, phonetic diphthongs are formed in most Brazilian Portuguese dialects by the vocalization of in the syllable coda with words like ''sol'' ('sun') and ''sul'' ('south') as well as by yodization of vowels preceding or its allophone at syllable coda in terms like ''arroz'' ('rice'), and (or ) in terms such as ''paz mundial'' ('world peace') and ''dez anos'' ('ten years').


Spanish

Phonetically,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...
has seven falling diphthongs and eight rising diphthongs. In addition, during fast speech, sequences of vowels in hiatus become diphthongs wherein one becomes non-syllabic (unless they are the same vowel, in which case they fuse together) as in ''poeta'' ('poet') and ''maestro'' ('teacher'). The Spanish diphthongs are:


Italian

The existence of true diphthongs in Italian is debatable; however, a list is: The second table includes only 'false' diphthongs, composed of a semivowel + a vowel, not two vowels. The situation is more nuanced in the first table: a word such as 'baita' is actually pronounced baj.taand most speakers would syllabify it that way. A word such as 'voi' would instead be pronounced and syllabified as vo.i yet again without a diphthong. In general, unstressed in
hiatus Hiatus may refer to: *Hiatus (linguistics), the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in separate syllables *Hiatus (television), a break of several weeks or more in television scheduling *Hiatus (anatomy), a natural fissure in a structure *Hi ...
can turn into glides in more rapid speech (e.g. ''biennale'' 'biennial'; ''coalizione'' 'coalition') with the process occurring more readily in syllables further from stress.


Romanian

Romanian has two true diphthongs: and . There are, however, a host of other vowel combinations (more than any other major Romance language) which are classified as vowel glides. As a result of their origin (diphthongization of mid vowels under stress), the two true diphthongs appear only in stressed syllables and make morphological alternations with the mid vowels and . To native speakers, they sound very similar to and respectively. There are no perfect
minimal pair In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, spoken or Sign language, signed, that differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, toneme or chroneme, and have distinct meanings. They are used to d ...
s to contrast and , and because doesn't appear in the final syllable of a prosodic word, there are no monosyllabic words with ; exceptions might include ''voal'' ('veil') and ''trotuar'' ('sidewalk'), though Ioana Chițoran argues that these are best treated as containing glide-vowel sequences rather than diphthongs. In addition to these, the semivowels and can be combined (either before, after, or both) with most vowels, while this arguably forms additional diphthongs and
triphthong In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
s, only and can follow an obstruent-liquid cluster such as in ''broască'' ('frog') and ''dreagă'' ('to mend'), implying that and are restricted to the syllable boundary and therefore, strictly speaking, do not form diphthongs.


Celtic languages


Irish

All
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
diphthongs are falling. *, spelled ''aigh, aidh, agh, adh, eagh, eadh, eigh,'' or ''eidh'' *, spelled ''abh, amh, eabh,'' or ''eamh'' *, spelled ''ia, iai'' *, spelled ''ua, uai''


Scottish Gaelic

There are 9 diphthongs in
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups o ...
. Group 1 occur anywhere (''eu'' is usually ːbefore ''-m'', e.g. ''Seumas''). Group 2 are reflexes that occur before ''-ll, -m, -nn, -bh, -dh, -gh'' and ''-mh''. For more detailed explanations of Gaelic diphthongs see
Scottish Gaelic orthographyScottish Gaelic orthography has evolved over many centuries and is heavily etymologizing in its modern form. This means the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that invo ...
.


Cornish

The following diphthongs are used in the
Standard Written Form The Standard Written Form or SWF ( kw, Furv Skrifys Savonek) of the Cornish language . Cornish ( Standard Written Form: or ) is a Southwestern Brittonic languages, Brittonic language of the Celtic language family. It is a List of revived langu ...
of
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
. Each diphthong is given with its ''Revived Middle Cornish'' (RMC) and ''Revived Late Cornish'' (RLC) pronunciation.


Welsh

Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
is traditionally divided into Northern and Southern dialects. In the north, some diphthongs may be short or long according to regular vowel length rules but in the south they are always short (see
Welsh phonology The phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ti ...
). Southern dialects tend to simplify diphthongs in speech (e.g. ''gwaith'' is reduced to ). :† The plural ending ''-au'' is reduced to /a/ in the north and /e/ in the south, e.g. ''cadau'' 'battles' is /ˈkada/ (north) or /ˈkade/ (south).


Slavic languages


Czech

There are three diphthongs in
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A countr ...
: * as in ''auto'' (almost exclusively in words of foreign origin) * as in ''euro'' (in words of foreign origin only) * as in ''koule'' The vowel groups ''ia, ie, ii, io'', and ''iu'' in foreign words are not regarded as diphthongs, they are pronounced with between the vowels .


Serbo-Croatian

*, as in is conventionally considered a diphthong. However, it is actually in hiatus or separated by a semivowel, . Some
Serbo-Croatian Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language The South Slavic languages are one of three branche ...
dialects also have ''uo'', as in whereas, in Standard Croatian and Serbian, these words are konj, rod, on.


Finno-Ugric languages


Estonian

All nine vowels can appear as the first component of an Estonian diphthong, but only occur as the second component. There are additional diphthongs less commonly used, such as in Euroopa (Europe), in söandama (to dare), and in näuguma (to mew).


Finnish

All
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
diphthongs A diphthong ( or ; from Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; from ''δίς'' "twice" and ''φθόγγος'' "sound"), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Sylla ...
are falling. Notably, Finnish has true opening diphthongs (e.g. ), which are not very common crosslinguistically compared to centering diphthongs (e.g. in English). Vowel combinations across syllables may in practice be pronounced as diphthongs, when an intervening consonant has elided, as in ''näön'' instead of for the genitive of ''näkö'' ('sight'). ; closing * as in ''laiva'' (ship) * as in ''keinu'' (swing) * as in ''poika'' (boy) * as in ''äiti'' (mother) * as in ''öisin'' (at nights) * as in ''lauha'' (mild) * as in ''leuto'' (mild) * as in ''koulu'' (school) * as in ''leyhyä'' (to waft) * as in ''täysi'' (full) * as in ''löytää'' (to find) ; close * as in ''uida'' (to swim) * as in ''lyijy'' (lead) * as in ''viulu'' (violin) * as in ''siistiytyä'' (to smarten up) ; opening * as in ''kieli'' (tongue) * as in ''suo'' (bog) * as in ''yö'' (night)


Northern Sami

The diphthong system in
Northern Sami Northern or North Sami ( ; se, davvisámegiella ; fi, pohjoissaame ; no, nordsamisk; sv, nordsamiska; disapproved exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term u ...

Northern Sami
varies considerably from one dialect to another. The Western Finnmark dialects distinguish four different qualities of opening diphthongs: * as in ''leat'' "to be" * as in ''giella'' "language" * as in ''boahtit'' "to come" * as in ''vuodjat'' "to swim" In terms of quantity, Northern Sami shows a three-way contrast between long, short and finally stressed diphthongs. The last are distinguished from long and short diphthongs by a markedly long and stressed second component. Diphthong quantity is not indicated in spelling.


Semitic languages


Maltese

Maltese Maltese may refer to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to Malta * Maltese alphabet * Maltese cuisine * Maltese culture * Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese people * Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese ...
has seven falling diphthongs, though they may be considered VC sequences phonemically. * ''ej'' or ''għi'' * ''aj'' or ''għi'' * ''oj'' * ''iw'' * ''ew'' * ''aw'' or ''għu'' * ''ow'' or ''għu''


Sino-Tibetan languages


Mandarin Chinese

Rising sequences in
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
are usually regarded as a combination of a medial semivowel () plus a vowel, while falling sequences are regarded as one diphthong. *ai: , as in ''ài'' (愛, love) *ei: , as in ''lèi'' (累, tired) *ao: , as in ''dào'' (道, way) *ou: , as in ''dòu'' (豆, bean)


Cantonese

Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research un ...

Cantonese
has eleven diphthongs. *aai: , as in ''gaai1'' (街, street) *aau: , as in ''baau3'' (爆, explode) *ai: , as in ''gai1'' (雞, chicken) *au: , as in ''au1'' (勾, hook) *ei: , as in ''gei1'' (機, machine) *eu: , as in ''deu6'' (掉, throw) *iu: , as in ''giu3'' (叫, call) *oi: , as in ''oi3'' (愛, love) *ou: , as in ''gou1'' (高, high) *ui: , as in ''pui4'' (陪, accompany) *eui: , as in ''zeoi3'' (醉, drunk)


Tai–Kadai languages


Thai

In addition to vowel nuclei following or preceding and ,
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...
has three diphthongs which exist as long-short pairs: * เอีย ia * เอือ üa * อัว ua


Mon-Khmer languages


Vietnamese

In addition to vowel nuclei following or preceding /j/ and /w/,
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...
has three diphthongs: * ''ia~iê'' * ''ưa~ươ'' * ''ua~uô''


Khmer

Khmer language Khmer (; , ) is an Austroasiatic language The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. T ...

Khmer language
has rich vocalics with an extra distinction of long and short register to the vowels and diphthongs. * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Bantu languages


Zulu

Zulu Zulu may refer to: Zulu people * Zulu Kingdom or Zulu Empire, a former monarchy in what is now South Africa * Zulu language, a Bantu language spoken in southern Africa * Zulu people, an ethnic group of southern Africa Arts, entertainment, and med ...
has only monophthongs. ''Y'' and ''w'' are semi-vowels: * as in ''ngiyakubeka'' (I am placing it) * as in ''ngiwa'' (I fall/I am falling)


Austronesian languages


Indonesian

Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Indonesia ** Native Indonesians, diverse groups of local inhabitants of the archipelago ** Indonesian w ...

Indonesian
has four native diphthongs which may be located at the beginning, middle or end of a word.
Minister of Education and Culture Decree No: 50/2015
Jakarta, 2015.
They are: * : ''balairung'' ('hall') , ''kedai'' ('shop'), ''pandai'' ('clever') * : ''autodidak'' ('autodidact'), ''Taufik'' (Indonesian given name), ''kerbau'' ('buffalo'), ''limau'' ('lemon') * (or in Indonesian): ''boikot'' ('boycott') , ''amboi'' (an expression when amazed) * : ''eigendom'' ('property') , ''survei'' ('survey')


See also

*
Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * '' ...
*
Hiatus Hiatus may refer to: *Hiatus (linguistics), the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in separate syllables *Hiatus (television), a break of several weeks or more in television scheduling *Hiatus (anatomy), a natural fissure in a structure *Hi ...
*
Index of phonetics articles A * Acoustic phonetics Acoustic phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians— ...
*
Table of vowels This table lists the vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in ...
*
Monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not towards a new position of articulation. The monophthongs can be contrasted with s, where the vowel quality changes w ...
*
Semivowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. T ...
*
Triphthong In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
*
Vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

Vowel
*
Vowel breaking In historical linguistics, vowel breaking, vowel fracture, or diphthongization is the sound change of a monophthong into a diphthong A diphthong ( or ; from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; ...
* Diaeresis


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * {{Authority control Vowels Phonetics