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35 votes

Psychology of diphthongs

TL;DR All tense monophthongs in English become non-phonemic, phonetic-only diphthongs with weak off-glides in most speakers and contexts. Minor phonologic effects like this are part of getting an ...
tchrist's user avatar
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30 votes
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"Extra W" sound in words

This is a so-called “linking semivowel”. It’s typically not perceived as being as strong a sound as “original” syllable-initial /w/, so some linguists don’t like to transcribe it (see this blog post ...
herisson's user avatar
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22 votes
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What is the difference between /ʌɪ/ and /aɪ/ in English?

The notations /ʌɪ/ and /ɑɪ/ represent a contrastive phonemic difference that some native speakers of English produce and perceive between certain minimal pairs. For those speakers, the following are ...
tchrist's user avatar
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19 votes

Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

Actually, it's "worse" than that. Nearly all the vowels of English have more than one possible representation in IPA. For example: The vowel sound of the word "kit" can be written as [ɪ] or [i] The ...
herisson's user avatar
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18 votes

Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

Within one language community, the IPA may be simplified for dictionary entries. The /r/ is a classic example. In strict IPA usage, it is the sign for an r sound with a short trill, as in Italian Roma,...
KarlG's user avatar
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14 votes
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Does English have (or has it had) the diphthongs /uɪ, ʌɪ/?

[ʌɪ] Assuming we take the symbol "ʌ" to represent more or less the STRUT vowel, some contemporary North American speakers have a diphthong more or less pronounced [ʌɪ] (it could also be transcribed ...
herisson's user avatar
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10 votes

Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

What you are seeing is not variation in pronunciation by different varieties. Most all dictionaries (OED, M-W, Collins, online dictionaries) will give one pronunciation for British English (RP) or ...
Mitch's user avatar
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8 votes

Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

Vowels change. A hundred years ago, the standard southern British pronunciations of bear, cat, code, and cut were [bɛə], [kæt], [koʊd], and [kʌt]. Now, they're [bɛ:], [kat], [kəʊd], and [kɐt]. Why do ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
8 votes

Psychology of diphthongs

From the point of view of most native English speakers, diphthongs such as /eɪ/, /aɪ/ etc are not noticeably different from other, monophthongal vowels. SIL defines a diphthong as "A diphthong is a ...
rjpond's user avatar
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7 votes

Does English have (or has it had) the diphthongs /uɪ, ʌɪ/?

Phonetically, the diphthong [ʊɪ] still exists in some English accents spoken today, particularly in the words ruin, fluid, etc. This appears to be characteristic of the accents which exhibit what is ...
Nardog's user avatar
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7 votes

What is the difference between /ʌɪ/ and /aɪ/ in English?

If you click on the U.S. pronunciation in Lexico, it gives /naɪt/ (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/night). They represent the same phoneme, and you can pronounce it either way (although it might ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
6 votes

Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

Vowels in English are notoriously varied. It very much depends on your accent as to which sound you produce. And that in turn depends on your region and class. I have always learned that /ɛ/ is short ...
Oliver Mason's user avatar
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6 votes
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Why does the diphthong /aʊ/ not occur before /k/, /m/, /p/, /b/, /g/ etc?

I actually wrote a long post about this topic on the Linguistics SE site: you can see it at Why English is missing some phoneme sequences (/aʊv/ or /aʊp/). Incidentally, trauma is only pronounced with ...
herisson's user avatar
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6 votes
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True realization of /i/ in American English: Is it really [ɪi]?

Realizing the FLEECE vowel as [ij] or [ɪi̯] All tense vowel phonemes in English have inconsequential phonetic offglides at their ends. This is just as true of /i/ and /u/ as it is of /e/ and /o/. It ...
tchrist's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the word for the double vowel in "coordinate"?

Adjacent vowels that are pronounced as separate syllables are said to be in hiatus: A break between two vowels coming together but not in the same syllable, as in the ear and cooperate. (Oxford ...
herisson's user avatar
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5 votes

Syllable count for apparent monosyllabic words like "child," "wild," and field"

The traditional way of counting syllables is to say that file and vile are monosyllabic words, and that trial and vial are two-syllable words. However, if you pronounce vial and vile as homonyms, and ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
5 votes
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Why is ‘Gentiles’ considered a two-syllable word?

If you are hearing gentiles with three syllables, that matches how you hear denials with three syllables. The spelling doesn’t matter, of course. What’s happening is that in many accents, the /l/ ...
tchrist's user avatar
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4 votes

Is there any word with two consecutive monophthongs whose symbols could be combined to a diphthong?

IPA does not have explicit different written display between two monophthongs and one diphthong — a bad symbol choice if any languages have a double vowel sound. This statement is untrue, and ...
tchrist's user avatar
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4 votes
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Reduction of diphthongs to short vowels (/waɪz/ -> /'wɪz.əd/)

There are indeed five diphthongs/long vowels that reduce to a short vowels in some inflections of words. This is a consequence of the Great Vowel Shift: originally, in Middle English, the vowels /aɪ/ ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
4 votes
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Why do Southerners pronounce "naked" differently?

Simple possible answer They may have picked it up from the Scotch-Irish settlers of Appalachia. These early residents left many vestiges in the language spoken there. Notice how close that ...
tchrist's user avatar
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3 votes
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Which diphthong takes place in 'desirous'?

/ʌɪə/ and /ʌuə/ are triphthongs. They are sometimes phonetically realized as diphthongs, but if all three vowel sounds are pronounced, they are triphthongs.
Gustavson's user avatar
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2 votes

Is the 'w' in 'cow' a vowel or a consonant?

The original rhyme went like so: A, e, i, o, and u — and sometimes y and w. It helped students memorize the five vowels and the two dependents. The original Greek also had five vowels and two ...
Professor Cox's user avatar
2 votes

Pronunciation of letter y: asylum vs syrup

There's no simple rule. In general, when "y" represents a vowel, it is pronounced just the same as the letter "i" would be. The issue is that "i" has multiple pronunciations. It can be pronounced ...
herisson's user avatar
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2 votes

Is there any word with two consecutive monophthongs whose symbols could be combined to a diphthong?

The possible IPA diphthongs in English that I can think of are aɪ aʊ ɔɪ eɪ oʊ, and perhaps eə ɪə ʊə. Usually, the first element of the diphthong is not possible as an independent vowel phoneme that ...
herisson's user avatar
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2 votes

Is there any word with two consecutive monophthongs whose symbols could be combined to a diphthong?

Consider the word drawing. In the Cambridge Dictionary, the transcription for American English is /ˈdrɔ·ɪŋ/. Without the syllable separation dot, you would have the symbol for the diphthong /ɔɪ/. (The ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
2 votes

Are R-colored diphthongs phonemes or not?

How can you tell? I think the right thing to do is ask a bunch of Americans who haven't thought much about phonetics whether the vowel in beard is the same as the vowel in bead or as the vowel in ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
2 votes

Are R-colored diphthongs phonemes or not?

In my experience, rhotic vowels generally aren't regarded as separate vowel phonemes. But I am not a linguist so you shouldn't take my word for it. Hopefully someone else will post a better answer ...
herisson's user avatar
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2 votes
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Which English words feature reduction of diphthongs like /eɪ/ to /i/?

You may not have mentioned this because it seems so obvious, but I think it's useful to note this reduction only occurs in unstressed syllables—primary stress (as in the U.S. pronunciation of ballet) ...
herisson's user avatar
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2 votes
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Do /ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ diphthongs actually exist in General American as phonemes?

No, they do not. The diphthongs /ɪə, eə, ʊə/ found in Received Pronunciation stem historically from the sequences of /iː/, /eː/ (now /eɪ/), or /uː/ + /r/. In about the 16th century, /iːr/ etc. ...
Nardog's user avatar
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2 votes

Syllable count for apparent monosyllabic words like "child," "wild," and field"

This confusion is the result of a phenomenon called pre-L breaking, for which I must once again cite a Geoff Lindsey video. Essentially, when a vowel sound ending in a glide occurs before an /l/ in ...
alphabet's user avatar
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