Basic Grammar: What is a Diphthong?

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Basic Grammar: What Is a Diphthong?

by Richard Nordquist/Thought.co

The word “diphthong” comes from the Greek and means “two voices” or “two sounds.” In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable. (A single or simple vowel is known as a monophthong.) The process of moving from one vowel sound to another is called gliding, which is why another name for a diphthong is a gliding vowel but they are also known as compound vowels, complex vowels, or moving vowels. The sound change that turns a single vowel into a diphthong is called diphthongization. Diphthongs are sometimes referred to as “long vowels” but this is misleading. While vowel sounds do change in a diphthong, they do not necessarily take more time to say than a monophthong.

How many diphthongs are there in the English language? It depends on which expert you ask. Some sources cite eight, others as many as 10. Even syllables containing a single vowel can contain a diphthong. The rule of thumb is: If the sound moves, it’s a diphthong; if it’s static, it’s a monophthong. Each of the following diphthongs is represented by its phonetic symbol.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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