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Usually all combinations of vowels in English function as diphthongs. Are there any combinations of vowels in English that do not function as diphthongs? if there are no such examples - I would be grateful to you if you mention the source, where this restriction is mentioned as a combinatory rule for English vowel phonemes.

You are absolutely right -my question didn't sound precise. I meant the phonotactics of Old English - were there any cases of vowel combinations within one morpheme that were not diphthongs? Something like CV+VC or CCV+V

(A later comment from the original poster)

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    Do you mean vowel sounds, or the letters classed as vowels (i.e. a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y)? – Matt E. Эллен Dec 20 '11 at 10:23
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    It seems to me that the definition of a dipthong is a sequence of two different vowel phonemes. If you mean the letters classed as vowels, there are plenty of counterexamples ("heat", "pour") – slim Dec 20 '11 at 10:41
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    I think you'll need to be clearer about what you are asking for. Vowels in different syllables don't coalesce (eg "rearrange") but they are usually separated by glides rather than glottal stops. But within a syllable what possibilities are there other than a diphthong? – Colin Fine Dec 20 '11 at 11:29
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    Very unclear question. Diphthong is a phonetic term, dealing with spoken language only. The vagaries of English spelling have nothing to do with diphthongs. It should be clarified or closed. – John Lawler Dec 20 '11 at 15:55
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    Is the American pronunciation of drawing what you're looking for? We don't insert the /r/, so it's /drɔ.ɪŋ/ or /drɑ.ɪŋ/ rɑther than /drɔːrɪŋ/. That is, there are two adjacent vowels with no consonants or semivowels (y,w) between them. I believe that in most British dialects, whenever you have two adjacent vowels, you insert a y or w glide or an r between them. – Peter Shor Dec 20 '11 at 17:19
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Examples within a single morpheme exist (e.g., pIAno, & nAIve), and across morpheme boundaries, it would be very common (e.g., gOIng). These are not diphthongs because the two vowels occur in different syllables.

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  • Thank you for your answers and commments. You are absolutely right -my question didn't sound precise. I meant the phonotactics of Old English - were there any cases of vowel combinations within one morpheme that were not diphthongs? Something like CV+VC or CCV+V – subic Dec 20 '11 at 12:50
  • Is naïve with the umlaut ( ¨ ) considered the ideal English spelling, or is it just a vestigial relic that has survived since it entered English from the French language? – Adam Mosheh May 16 '12 at 19:18
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If, as now seems to be the case, the OP is asking about Old English, then Old English þeod, meaning ‘people’, was a morpheme, and was quite possibly pronounced as /θeɪɒd/, with a syllable boundary after /eɪ/.

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    Who favors a reconstruction as /θeɪ.ɒd/? That looks very odd to me; a modern English speaker might try to pronounce it that way, but it doesn't look like Old English phonologically. The ēo in this word descends from a Proto-Germanic diphthong eu (it's cognate to the first part of German "Deutsch") so I would think it would be a diphthong in Old English. Wiktionary gives it as /θeːod/. – herisson May 16 '16 at 17:52

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