I am looking for a table of distinctive features for English dipthongs along the lines of that available for other vowels here. I don't trust my purely book learned linguistic skills to produce an accurate feature matrix.

A tool I wrote uses a distinctive feature table based on a very old theory and I would like to update it.

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    Do you mean phonemic diphthongs like /ay, aw, oy/, or phonetic diphthongs like [ej] for /e/ or [əʊ] for /o/? Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 20:11
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    I think phonemic diphthongs is what I am after. Thanks for the Australian link, which I had seen and ignored because I was after US pronunciation (sorry, did not specify that in the original question). Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 3:24
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    What's the question again?
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 15:41
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    On the other hand, there's really no such thing as "an accurate feature matrix". Different phonologists have come up with their particular analysis. I wonder if you might be better coming up with your own feature matrix that serves your particular purpose (if it serves your purpose well, then it's "accurate" for your purposes, no?). Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 20:45
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    Great question, but I think that this one is a better fit for linguistics.stackexchange.com. Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


I don't know much about diphthongs myself, but the only features I can find are described here. They are:

  • closing vs opening (vs centring) (direction of tongue movement)
  • wide vs narrow (amount of movement)
  • falling vs rising (placement of stress)

Several examples are given, but there is no exhaustive list. Another source (see section 5.5) categorizes most/all of the English diphthongs along the closing vs centring dimension (English diphthongs don't open) and the falling vs rising dimension. Still more categorization can be found here. With these sources, you should be able to build a complete table.

  • Well, since some of the features on offer overlap, and not all are significant in English, one can build a useful table, but a complete table would be unusable in practice. Commented May 30, 2016 at 15:05

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