A diphthong (/ˈdɪfθɒŋ/ DIF-thong or /ˈdɪpθɒŋ/ DIP-thong;[1] from Greek: δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally "double sound" or "double tone"), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds within the same 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 dialects of English, the phrase no highway cowboys /ˌnoʊ ˈhaɪweɪ ˈkaʊbɔɪz/ has five distinct diphthongs, one in every syllable.

Diphthongs contrast with monophthongs, 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 (/ɑː/), while the word ow is spoken as a diphthong in most dialects (/aʊ/). Where two adjacent vowel sounds occur in different syllables—for example, in the English word re-elect—the result is described as hiatus, not as a diphthong. (The English word hiatus /ˌhaɪˈeɪtəs/ 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 (phonemes).[2]

Diphthongs use two vowel sounds in one syllable to make a speech sound.[3]

American English pronunciation of no highway cowboys, showing five diphthongs: /oʊ aɪ eɪ aʊ ɔɪ/


In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), monophthongs are transcribed with one symbol, as in English sun [sʌn], in which ⟨ʌ⟩ represents a monophthong. Diphthongs are transcribed with two symbols, as in English high [haɪ] or cow [kaʊ], in which ⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩ represent diphthongs.

Diphthongs may be transcribed with two vowel symbols or with a vowel symbol and a semivowel symbol. In the words above, the less prominent member of the diphthong can be represented with the symbols for the palatal approximant [j] and the labiovelar approximant [w], with the symbols for the close vowels [i] and [u], or the symbols for the near-close vowels [ɪ] and [ʊ]:

vowel and semivowel haj kaw broader transcription[n.b. 1]
two vowel symbols hai̯ kau̯
haɪ̯ kaʊ̯ narrower transcription

Some transcriptions are broader or narrower (less precise or more precise phonetically) than others. Transcribing the English diphthongs in high and cow as ⟨aj aw⟩ or ⟨ai̯ au̯⟩ is a less precise or broader transcription, since these diphthongs usually end in a vowel sound that is opener than the semivowels [j w] or the close vowels [i u]. Transcribing the diphthongs as ⟨aɪ̯ aʊ̯⟩ is a more precise or narrower transcription, since the English diphthongs usually end in the near-close vowels [ɪ ʊ].

The non-syllabic diacritic, the inverted breve below ⟨◌̯⟩,[4] 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: [aɪ̯ aʊ̯]. When there is no contrastive vowel sequence in the language, the diacritic may be omitted. Other common indications that the two letters are not separate vowels are a superscript, ⟨aᶦ aᶷ⟩,[5] or a tie bar, ⟨a͡ɪ a͡ʊ⟩ or ⟨a͜ɪ a͜ʊ⟩.[6] The tie bar can be useful when it is not clear which letter represents the syllable nucleus, or when they have equal weight.[7] Superscripts are especially used when an on- or off-glide is particularly fleeting.[8]

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 syllables (hiatus), 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 ⟨ˈloʊ.ər⟩, with a period separating the first syllable, /loʊ/, from the second syllable, /ər/.

The non-syllabic diacritic is only used when necessary. It is typically omitted when there is no ambiguity, as in ⟨haɪ kaʊ⟩. No words in English have the vowel sequences *[a.ɪ a.ʊ], so the non-syllabic diacritic is unnecessary.


Falling and rising

Falling (or descending) diphthongs start with a vowel quality of higher prominence (higher pitch or volume) and end in a semivowel with less prominence, like [aɪ̯] in eye, while rising (or ascending) diphthongs begin with a less prominent semivowel and end with a more prominent full vowel, similar to the [ja] in yard. (Note that "falling" and "rising" in this context do not refer to vowel height; for that, the terms "opening" and "closing" are used instead. See below.) The less prominent component in the diphthong may also be transcribed as an approximant, thus [aj] in eye and [ja] in yard. However, when the diphthong is analysed as a single phoneme, both elements are often transcribed with vowel letters (/aɪ̯/, /ɪ̯a/). Note also that semivowels and approximants are not equivalent in all treatments, and in the English and Italian languages, among others, many phoneticians do not consider rising combinations to be diphthongs, but rather sequences of approximant and vowel. There are many languages (such as Romanian) that contrast one or more rising diphthongs with similar sequences of a glide and a vowel in their phonetic inventory[9] (see semivowel for examples).

Closing, opening, and centering

Belgian Dutch diphthongs chart
Vowel diagram illustrating closing diphthongs of Belgian Standard Dutch, from Verhoeven (2005:245)
Orsmaal-Gussenhoven Dutch centering diphthongs chart
Vowel diagram illustrating centering diphthongs of the Dutch dialect of Orsmaal-Gussenhoven, from Peters (2010:241)

In closing diphthongs, the second element is more close than the first (e.g. [ai]); in opening diphthongs, the second element is more open (e.g. [ia]). Closing diphthongs tend to be falling ([ai̯]), and opening diphthongs are generally rising ([i̯a]),[10] 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, for instance, the opening diphthongs /ie̯/ and /uo̯/ 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.[11] These occurred in Old English:

  • beon [beo̯n] "be"
  • ceald [kæɑ̯ld] "cold"

A centering diphthong is one that begins with a more peripheral vowel and ends with a more central one, such as [ɪə̯], [ɛə̯], and [ʊə̯] in Received Pronunciation or [iə̯] and [uə̯] in Irish. Many centering diphthongs are also opening diphthongs ([iə̯], [uə̯]).

Diphthongs may contrast in how far they open or close. For example, Samoan contrasts low-to-mid with low-to-high diphthongs:

  • ’ai [ʔai̯] 'probably'
  • ’ae [ʔae̯] 'but'
  • ’auro [ʔau̯ɾo] 'gold'
  • ao [ao̯] '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 [eɪ], [øʏ] and [oʊ]. 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 [aɪ] and [aʊ].


Languages differ in the length of diphthongs, measured in terms of morae. In languages with phonemically short and long vowels, diphthongs typically behave like long vowels, and are pronounced with a similar length.[12] In languages with only one phonemic length for pure vowels, however, diphthongs may behave like pure vowels. For example, in Icelandic, 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, these behave like short and long vowels, occupying one and two morae, respectively. Languages that contrast three quantities in diphthongs are extremely rare, but not unheard of; Northern Sami is known to contrast long, short and "finally stressed" diphthongs, the last of which are distinguished by a long second element.


In some languages, diphthongs are single phonemes, 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 monophthongs. Vowel breaking or diphthongization is a vowel shift in which a monophthong becomes a diphthong. Monophthongization or smoothing is a vowel shift in which a diphthong becomes a monophthong.

Difference from a vowel and semivowel

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[13][14] 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,[15] though the phonetic distinction is not always clear.[16] 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 so that [ii̯], when it occurs in a language, does not contrast with [iː] though it is possible for languages to contrast [ij] and [iː].[17]


Germanic languages


In words coming from Middle English, most cases of the Modern English diphthongs [aɪ̯, oʊ̯, eɪ̯, aʊ̯] originate from the Middle English long monophthongs [iː, ɔː, aː, uː] through the Great Vowel Shift, although some cases of [oʊ̯, eɪ̯] originate from the Middle English diphthongs [ɔu̯, aɪ̯]. Due to complex regional variation Hiberno-English diphthongs are not enumerated below.

Standard English diphthongs
RP (British) Australian North American
GenAm Canadian
low //oʊ// [əʊ̯] [əʉ̯] [o̞ʊ̯][t2 1]
loud //aʊ// [aʊ̯] [æɔ̯] [aʊ̯~æʊ̯] [aʊ̯~æʊ̯][t2 2]
lout [ʌʊ̯][t2 3]
lied //aɪ// [aɪ̯] [ɑɪ̯] [äɪ̯][t2 4]
light [ʌɪ̯][t2 3]
lay //eɪ// [eɪ̯] [æɪ̯] [eɪ̯][t2 1]
loin //ɔɪ// [ɔɪ̯] [oɪ̯] [ɔɪ̯]
loon /uː/[t2 5] [ʊu̯] [ʉː] [ʉu̯]
lean /iː/[t2 5] [ɪi̯] [ɪi̯] [i]
leer //ɪər// [ɪə̯] [ɪə̯][t2 6] [ɪɚ̯][t2 7]
lair //ɛər// [ɛə̯][t2 8] [eː] [ɛɚ̯][t2 7]
lure //ʊər// [ʊə̯][t2 8] [ʊə̯] [ʊɚ̯][t2 7]
  1. ^ a b In Scottish, Upper Midwestern, and California English, /oʊ̯/ is monophthongal [oː].
  2. ^ In Pittsburgh English, /aʊ̯/ is monophthongal [aː], leading to the stereotypical spelling "Dahntahn" for "downtown".
  3. ^ a b Canadian English and some dialects of northern American English exhibit allophony of /aʊ̯/ and /aɪ̯/ called Canadian raising – in some places they have become separate phonemes. GA and RP have raising to a lesser extent in /aɪ̯/.
  4. ^ In several American dialects such as Southern American English, /aɪ̯/ becomes monophthongal [aː] except before voiceless consonants.
  5. ^ a b The erstwhile monophthongs /iː/ and /uː/ are diphthongized in many dialects. In many cases they might be better transcribed as [uu̯] and [ii̯], where the non-syllabic element is understood to be closer than the syllabic element. They are sometimes transcribed /uw/ and /ij/.
  6. ^ Most Australian English speakers monophthongize "-ee-" vowels. However, Western Australian English is an exception, as it generally features centring diphthongs in words like fear and beard. See: Macquarie University, 2010, Regional Accents (30 January 2015).
  7. ^ a b c In rhotic dialects, words like pair, poor, and peer can be analyzed as diphthongs, although other descriptions analyze them as vowels with [ɹ] in the coda.
  8. ^ a b In Received Pronunciation, the vowels in lair and lure may be monophthongized to [ɛː] and [oː] respectively (Roach (2004:240)).


Diphthongs of Dutch
Netherlandic[18] Belgian[19]
zeis, ijs [ɛɪ̯]
ui [œʏ̯]
zout, lauw [aʊ̯] [ɔʊ̯]
leeuw [e:ʊ̯]
nieuw [iʊ̯]
duw [yʊ̯]
dooi [o:ɪ̯]
saai [a:ɪ̯]
loei [uɪ̯]
beet[t1 1] [eɪ̯] [eː]
neus[t1 1] [øʏ̯] [øː]
boot[t1 1] [oʊ̯] [oː]
  1. ^ a b c [eɪ̯], [øʏ̯], and [oʊ̯] are normally pronounced as closing diphthongs except when preceding [ɾ], in which case they are either centering diphthongs: [eə̯], [øə̯], and [oə̯] or are lengthened and monophthongized to [ɪː], [øː], and [ʊː]

The dialect of Hamont (in Limburg) has five centring diphthongs and contrasts long and short forms of [ɛɪ̯], [œʏ̯], [ɔʊ̯], and [ɑʊ̯].[20]


Phonemic diphthongs in German:

  • /aɪ̯/ as in Ei ‘egg’
  • /aʊ̯/ as in Maus ‘mouse’
  • /ɔʏ̯/ as in neu ‘new’

In the varieties of German that vocalize the /r/ in the syllable coda, other diphthongal combinations may occur. These are only phonetic diphthongs, not phonemic diphthongs, since the vocalic pronunciation [ɐ̯] alternates with consonantal pronunciations of /r/ if a vowel follows, cf. du hörst [duː ˈhøːɐ̯st] ‘you hear’ – ich höre [ʔɪç ˈhøːʀə] ‘I hear’. These phonetic diphthongs may be as follows:

German ɐ diphthongs chart - part 1
German diphthongs ending in [ɐ̯] (part 1), from Kohler (1999:88)
German ɐ diphthongs chart - part 2
German diphthongs ending in [ɐ̯] (part 2), from Kohler (1999:88)
Diphthong Example
Phonemically Phonetically IPA Orthography Translation
/iːr/ [iːɐ̯]1 [viːɐ̯] wir we
/yːr/ [yːɐ̯]1 [fyːɐ̯] für for
/uːr/ [uːɐ̯]1 [ˈʔuːɐ̯laʊ̯pʰ] Urlaub holiday
/ɪr/ [ɪɐ̯] [vɪɐ̯tʰ] wird he/she/it becomes
/ʏr/ [ʏɐ̯] [ˈvʏɐ̯də] Würde dignity
/ʊr/ [ʊɐ̯] [ˈvʊɐ̯də] wurde I/he/she/it became
/eːr/ [eːɐ̯]1 [meːɐ̯] mehr more
/øːr/ [øːɐ̯]1 [høːɐ̯] hör! (you) hear!
/oːr/ [oːɐ̯]1 [tʰoːɐ̯] Tor gate/goal (in football)
/ɛːr/ [ɛːɐ̯]1 [bɛːɐ̯] Bär bear
/ɛr/ [ɛɐ̯] [ʔɛɐ̯ftʰ] Erft Erft
/œr/ [œɐ̯] [dœɐ̯tʰ] dörrt he/she/it dries
/ɔr/ [ɔɐ̯] [ˈnɔɐ̯dn̩] Norden north
/aːr/ [aːɐ̯]1 [vaːɐ̯] wahr true
/ar/ [aɐ̯] [haɐ̯tʰ] hart hard
^1 Wiese (1996) notes that the length contrast is not very stable before non-prevocalic /r/[21] and that "Meinhold & Stock (1980:180), following the pronouncing dictionaries (Mangold (1990), Krech & Stötzer (1982)) 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."[21][22] 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 /r/ which is itself vocalized are problematic, in particular if /a/ precedes.[21]
According to the 'lengthless' analysis, the aforementioned 'long' diphthongs are analyzed as [iɐ̯], [yɐ̯], [uɐ̯], [eɐ̯], [øɐ̯], [oɐ̯], [ɛɐ̯] and [aɐ̯]. This makes non-prevocalic /aːr/ and /ar/ homophonous as [aɐ̯] or [aː]. Non-prevocalic /ɛːr/ and /ɛr/ may also merge, but the vowel chart in Kohler (1999:88) shows that they have somewhat different starting points.
Wiese (1996) 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."[21]

The diphthongs of some German dialects differ from standard German diphthongs. The Bernese German diphthongs, for instance, correspond rather to the Middle High German diphthongs than to standard German diphthongs:

  • /iə̯/ as in lieb ‘dear’
  • /uə̯/ as in guet ‘good’
  • /yə̯/ as in müed ‘tired’
  • /ei̯/ as in Bei ‘leg’
  • /ou̯/ as in Boum ‘tree’
  • /øi̯/ as in Böim ‘trees’

Apart from these phonemic diphthongs, Bernese German has numerous phonetic diphthongs due to L-vocalization in the syllable coda, for instance the following ones:

  • [au̯] as in Stau ‘stable’
  • [aːu̯] as in Staau ‘steel’
  • [æu̯] as in Wäut ‘world’
  • [æːu̯] as in wääut ‘elects’
  • [ʊu̯] as in tschúud ‘guilty’


Yiddish has three diphthongs:[23]

  • [ɛɪ̯] as in [plɛɪ̯tə] פּליטה ('refugee' f.)
  • [aɛ̯] as in [naɛ̯n] נײַן ('nine')
  • [ɔə̯] as in [ɔə̯fn̩] אופֿן ('way')

Diphthongs may reach a higher target position (towards /i/) in situations of coarticulatory phenomena or when words with such vowels are being emphasized.


There are five diphthongs in the Oslo dialect of Norwegian, all of them falling:

  • [æɪ] as in nei, "no"
  • [œ̫ʏ̫] as in øy, "island"
  • [æʉ͍] as in sau, "sheep"
  • [ɑɪ] as in hai, "shark"
  • [ɔ̫ʏ̫] as in joik, "Sami song"

An additional diphthong, [ʉ͍ɪ], 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.


Diphthongs in Faroese are:

  • /ai/ as in bein (can also be short)
  • /au/ as in havn
  • /ɛa/ as in har, mær
  • /ɛi/ as in hey
  • /ɛu/ as in nevnd
  • /œu/ as in nøvn
  • /ʉu/ as in hús
  • /ʊi/ as in mín, , (can also be short)
  • /ɔa/ as in ráð
  • /ɔi/ as in hoyra (can also be short)
  • /ɔu/ as in sól, ovn


Diphthongs in Icelandic are the following:

  • /au̯/ as in átta, "eight"
  • /ou̯/ as in nóg, "enough"
  • /øy/ as in auga, "eye"
  • /ai̯/ as in kær, "dear"
  • /ei̯/ as in þeir, "they"
  • /ɔi/ as in koja, "bunk bed", "berth" (rare, only in handful of words)

Combinations of semivowel /j/ and a vowel are the following:

  • /jɛ/ as in éta, "eat"
  • /ja/ as in jata, "manger"
  • /jau̯/ as in , "yes"
  • /jo/ as in joð, "iodine", "jay", "yod" (only in a handful of words of foreign origin)
  • /jou̯/ as in jól, "Christmas"
  • /jœ/ as in jötunn, "giant"
  • /jai̯/ as in jæja, "oh well"
  • /ju/ as in , "yes"

Romance languages


In French, /wa/, /wɛ̃/, /ɥi/ and /ɥɛ̃/ may be considered true diphthongs (that is, fully contained in the syllable nucleus: [u̯a], [u̯ɛ̃], [y̯i], [y̯ɛ̃]). 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.[24]


  • /wa/ [u̯a] as in roi "king"
  • /wɛ̃/ [u̯ɛ̃] as in groin "muzzle"
  • /ɥi/ [y̯i] as in huit "eight"
  • /ɥɛ̃/ [y̯ɛ̃] as in juin "June"


  • /wi/ as in oui "yes"
  • /jɛ̃/ as in lien "bond"
  • /jɛ/ as in Ariège
  • /aj/ as in travail "work"
  • /ɛj/ as in Marseille
  • /ij/ as in bille "ball"
  • /œj/ as in feuille "leaf"
  • /uj/ as in grenouille "frog"
  • /jø/ as in vieux "old"

In Quebec French, long vowels are generally diphthongized in informal speech when stressed.

  • [ɑɔ̯] as in tard "late"
  • [aɛ̯] as in père "father"
  • [aœ̯] as in fleur "flower"
  • [ou̯] as in autre "other"
  • [øy̯] as in neutre "neutral"
  • [ãʊ̯̃] as in banque "bank"
  • [ẽɪ̯̃] as in mince "thin"
  • [ɒ̃ʊ̯̃] as in bon "well"
  • [œ̃ʏ̯̃] as in un "one"


Catalan possesses a number of phonetic diphthongs, all of which begin (rising diphthongs) or end (falling diphthongs) in [j] or [w].[25]

Catalan diphthongs
[aj] aigua 'water' [aw] taula 'table'
[əj] mainada 'children' [əw] caurem 'we will fall'
[ɛj] remei 'remedy' [ɛw] peu 'foot'
[ej] rei 'king' [ew] seu 'his/her'
[iw] niu 'nest'
[ɔj] noi 'boy' [ɔw] nou 'new'
[ow] jou 'yoke'
[uj] avui 'today' [uw] duu 'he/she is carrying'
[ja] iaia 'grandma' [wa] quatre 'four'
[jɛ] veiem 'we see' [wɛ] seqüència 'sequence'
[je] seient 'seat' [we] ungüent 'ointment'
[jə] feia 'he/she was doing' [wə] qüestió 'question'
[wi] pingüí 'penguin'
[jɔ] iode 'iodine' [wɔ] quota 'payment'
[ju] iogurt 'yoghurt'

In standard Eastern Catalan, rising diphthongs (that is, those starting with [j] or [w]) are only possible in the following contexts:[26]

  • [j] in word initial position, e.g. iogurt.
  • Both occur between vowels as in feia and veiem.
  • In the sequences [ɡw] or [kw] and vowel, e.g. guant, quota, qüestió, pingüí (these exceptional cases even lead some scholars[27] to hypothesize the existence of rare labiovelar phonemes /ɡʷ/ and /kʷ/).[28]

There are also certain instances of compensatory diphthongization in the Majorcan dialect so that /ˈtroncs/ ('logs') (in addition to deleting the palatal plosive) develops a compensating palatal glide and surfaces as [ˈtrojns] (and contrasts with the unpluralized [ˈtronʲc]). 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 [ˈaɲ] ('year') vs [ˈajns] ('years').[29] 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).[30]


The Portuguese diphthongs are formed by the labio-velar approximant [w] and palatal approximant [j] with a vowel,[31] European Portuguese has 14 phonemic diphthongs (10 oral and 4 nasal),[32] all of which are falling diphthongs formed by a vowel and a nonsyllabic high vowel. Brazilian Portuguese has roughly the same amount, although the European and non-European dialects have slightly different pronunciations ([ɐj] is a distinctive feature of some southern and central Portuguese dialects, especially that of Lisbon). A [w] onglide after /k/ or /ɡ/ and before all vowels as in quando [ˈkwɐ̃du] ('when') or guarda [ˈɡwaɾðɐ ~ ˈɡwaʁdɐ] ('guard') may also form rising diphthongs and triphthongs. Additionally, in casual speech, adjacent heterosyllabic vowels may combine into diphthongs and triphthongs or even sequences of them.[33]

Falling diphthongs of Portuguese
sai [aj] mau [aw]
sei [ɐj] [ej] meu [ew]
anéis [ɛj] véu [ɛw]
viu [iw]
mói [ɔj]
moita [oj] dou [ow]
fui [uj]
mãe [ɐ̃j] [ɐ̃j] mão [ɐ̃w]
cem [ẽj]
anões [õj]
muita [ũj]

In addition, phonetic diphthongs are formed in most Brazilian Portuguese dialects by the vocalization of /l/ in the syllable coda with words like sol [sɔw] ('sun') and sul [suw] ('south') as well as by yodization of vowels preceding /s/ or its allophone at syllable coda [ʃ ~ ɕ] in terms like arroz [aˈʁojs ~ ɐˈʁo(j)ɕ] ('rice'),[33] and /z/ (or [ʒ ~ ʑ]) in terms such as paz mundial [ˈpajz mũdʒiˈaw ~ ˈpa(j)ʑ mũdʑiˈaw] ('world peace') and dez anos [ˌdɛjˈzɐ̃nu(j)s ~ ˌdɛjˈzɐ̃nuɕ] ('ten years').


Phonetically, Spanish 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 [ˈpo̯eta] ('poet') and maestro [ˈmae̯stɾo] ('teacher'). The Spanish diphthongs are:[34][35]

Spanish diphthongs
[ai̯] aire 'air' [au̯] pausa 'pause'
[ei̯] rey 'king' [eu̯] neutro 'neutral'
[oi̯] hoy 'today' [ou̯] bou 'seine fishing'
[ui̯] muy 'very'
[ja] hacia 'towards' [wa] cuadro 'picture'
[je] tierra 'earth' [we] fuego 'fire'
[wi] fuimos 'we went'
[jo] radio 'radio' [wo] cuota 'quota'
[ju] viuda 'widow'


The existence of true diphthongs in Italian is debatable; however, a list is:[36]

Italian diphthongs
[ai̯] baita 'mountain hut' [au̯] auto 'car'
[ei̯] potei 'I could' (past tense) [eu̯] pleurite 'pleurisy'
[ɛi̯] sei 'six' [ɛu̯] neutro 'neuter'
[ɔi̯] poi 'later'
[oi̯] voi 'you' (pl.)
[ui̯] lui 'he'
[ja] chiave 'key' [wa] guado 'ford'
[jɛ] pieno 'full' [wɛ] quercia 'oak'
[je] soffietto 'bellows' [we] quello 'that'
[wi] guida 'guide'
[jɔ] chiodo 'nail' [wɔ] quota 'quota'
[jo] fiore 'flower' [wo] acquoso 'watery'
[ju] piuma 'feather'

The second table includes only 'false' diphthongs, being they composed by 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.ta] and 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 /i e o u/ in hiatus can turn into glides in more rapid speech (e.g. biennale [bi̯enˈnaːle] 'biennial'; coalizione [ko̯alitˈtsi̯oːne] 'coalition') with the process occurring more readily in syllables further from stress.[37]


Romanian has two true diphthongs: /e̯a/ and /o̯a/. There are however a host of other vowel combinations ( more than any other romance language) which are classed as vowel glides. As a result of their origin (diphthongization of mid vowels under stress), the two true diphthongs appear only in stressed syllables[38] and make morphological alternations with the mid vowels /e/ and /o/. To native speakers, they sound very similar to /ja/ and /wa/ respectively.[39] There are no perfect minimal pairs to contrast /o̯a/ and /wa/,[9] and because /o̯a/ doesn't appear in the final syllable of a prosodic word, there are no monosyllabic words with /o̯a/; exceptions might include voal ('veil') and trotuar ('sidewalk'), though Ioana Chițoran argues[40] that these are best treated as containing glide-vowel sequences rather than diphthongs. In addition to these, the semivowels /j/ and /w/ can be combined (either before, after, or both) with most vowels, while this arguably[41] forms additional diphthongs and triphthongs, only /e̯a/ and /o̯a/ can follow an obstruent-liquid cluster such as in broască ('frog') and dreagă ('to mend').[42] implying that /j/ and /w/ are restricted to the syllable boundary and therefore, strictly speaking, do not form diphthongs.

Celtic languages


All Irish diphthongs are falling.

  • [əi̯], spelled aigh, aidh, agh, adh, eagh, eadh, eigh, or eidh
  • [əu̯], spelled abh, amh, eabh, or eamh
  • [iə̯], spelled ia, iai
  • [uə̯], spelled ua, uai

Scottish Gaelic

There are 9 diphthongs in Scottish Gaelic. Group 1 occur anywhere (eu is usually [eː] before -m, e.g. Seumas). Group 2 are reflexes that occur before -ll, -m, -nn, -bh, -dh, -gh and -mh.

Spellings Examples
1 [iə] ia iarr "ask"
[uə] ua fuar "cold"
[ia] eu beul "mouth"
2 [ai] ai saill "grease", cainnt "speech", aimhreit "riot"
[ei] ei seinn "sing"
[ɤi] oi, ei, ai loinn "badge", greim "bite", saighdear "soldier"
[ɯi] ui, aoi druim "back", aoibhneas "joy"
[au] a, ea cam "crooked", ceann "head"
[ɔu] o tom "mound", donn "brown"

For more detailed explanations of Gaelic diphthongs see Scottish Gaelic orthography.


The following diphthongs are used in the Standard Written Form of Cornish. Each diphthong is given with its Revived Middle Cornish (RMC) and Revived Late Cornish (RLC) pronunciation.

Graph RMC RLC Example
aw [aʊ] [æʊ] glaw "rain"
ay [aɪ] [əɪ] bay "kiss"
ew [ɛʊ] blew "hair"
ey [ɛɪ] [əɪ] bleydh "wolf"
iw [iʊ] [ɪʊ] liw "colour"
ow [ɔʊ] lowen "happy"
oy [ɔɪ] moy "more"
uw [yʊ] [ɪʊ] duw "god"
yw [ɪʊ] [ɛʊ] byw "alive"


Welsh 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). Southern dialects tend to simplify diphthongs in speech (e.g. gwaith /ɡwaiθ/ is reduced to /ɡwaːθ/).

Grapheme North South Example
ae /ɑːɨ/ /ai/ maen 'stone'
ai /ai/ gwaith 'work'
au /aɨ/ haul 'sun'
aw /au, ɑːu/ /au/ mawr 'big'
ei /əi/ /əi/ gweithio 'to work'
eu /əɨ/ treulio 'spend'
ey teyrn 'tyrant'
ew /ɛu, eːu/ /ɛu/ tew 'fat'
oe /ɔɨ, ɔːɨ/ /ɔi/ moel 'bald'
ou cyffrous 'excited'
oi /ɔi/ troi 'turn'
ow /ɔu, oːu/ /ɔu/ brown 'brown'
wy /ʊɨ, uːɨ/ /ʊi/ pwyll 'sense'
iw /ɪu/ /ɪu/ lliw 'colour'
uw /ɨu/ duw 'god'
yw llyw 'rudder'
/əu/ /əu/ tywydd 'weather'
† 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


There are three diphthongs in Czech:

  • /aʊ̯/ as in auto (almost exclusively in words of foreign origin)
  • /eʊ̯/ as in euro (in words of foreign origin only)
  • /oʊ̯/ as in koule

The vowel groups ia, ie, ii, io, and iu in foreign words are not regarded as diphthongs, they are pronounced with /j/ between the vowels [ɪja, ɪjɛ, ɪjɪ, ɪjo, ɪju].


  • i(j)e, as in mlijeko[43]

is conventionally considered a diphthong. However, it is actually [ie] in hiatus or separated by a semivowel, [ije].

Some Serbo-Croatian dialects also have uo, as in kuonj, ruod, uon[44] whereas, in Standard Croatian and Serbian, these words are konj, rod, on.

Finno-Ugric languages


All nine vowels can appear as the first component of an Estonian diphthong, but only [ɑ e i o u] occur as the second component.

Common Estonian diphthongs
[ɑe] aed
"fence, garden"
[ɑi] lai
[ɑo] kaotama
"to lose"
[ɑu] laud
[eɑ] teadma
"to know"
[ei] leib
[eo] teostus
[iu] kiuste
"in spite of"
[oɑ] toa
(s. possessive)
[oe] koer
[oi] toit
[ui] kui
"when, if"
[ɤe] nõel
[ɤi] õige
"right, correct"
[ɤo] tõotus
[ɤu] lõug
[æe] päev
[æi] täis
[æo] näo
"face" (s. possessive)
[øe] söed
[øi] köis

There are additional diphthongs less commonly used, such as [eu] in Euroopa (Europe), [øɑ] in söandama (to dare), and [æu] in näuguma (to mew).


All Finnish diphthongs are falling. Notably, Finnish has true opening diphthongs (e.g. /uo/), which are not very common crosslinguistically compared to centering diphthongs (e.g. /uə/ in English). Vowel combinations across syllables may in practice be pronounced as diphthongs, when an intervening consonant has elided, as in näön [næøn] instead of [næ.øn] for the genitive of näkö ('sight').

  • [ɑi̯] as in laiva (ship)
  • [ei̯] as in keinu (swing)
  • [oi̯] as in poika (boy)
  • [æi̯] as in äiti (mother)
  • [øi̯] as in öisin (at nights)
  • [ɑu̯] as in lauha (mild)
  • [eu̯] as in leuto (mild)
  • [ou̯] as in koulu (school)
  • [ey̯] as in leyhyä (to waft)
  • [æy̯] as in täysi (full)
  • [øy̯] as in löytää (to find)
  • [ui̯] as in uida (to swim)
  • [yi̯] as in lyijy (lead)
  • [iu̯] as in viulu (violin)
  • [iy̯] as in siistiytyä (to smarten up)
  • [ie̯] as in kieli (tongue)
  • [uo̯] as in suo (bog)
  • [yø̯] as in (night)

Northern Sami

The diphthong system in Northern Sami varies considerably from one dialect to another. The Western Finnmark dialects distinguish four different qualities of opening diphthongs:

  • /eæ/ as in leat "to be"
  • /ie/ as in giella "language"
  • /oa/ as in boahtit "to come"
  • /uo/ 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 has seven falling diphthongs, though they may be considered VC sequences phonemically.[45]

  • [ɛɪ̯] ej or għi
  • [ɐɪ̯] aj or għi
  • [ɔɪ̯] oj
  • [ɪʊ̯] iw
  • [ɛʊ̯] ew
  • [ɐʊ̯] aw or għu
  • [ɔʊ̯] ow or għu

Sino-Tibetan languages

Mandarin Chinese

Rising sequences in Mandarin are usually regarded as a combination of a medial semivowel ([j], [w], or [ɥ]) plus a vowel, while falling sequences are regarded as one diphthong.

  • ai: [ai̯], as in ài (愛, love)
  • ei: [ei̯], as in lèi (累, tired)
  • ao: [au̯], as in dào (道, way)
  • ou: [ou̯], as in dòu (豆, bean)


Cantonese has eleven diphthongs.

  • aai: [aːi̯], as in gaai1 (街, street)
  • aau: [aːu̯], as in baau3 (爆, explode)
  • ai: [ɐi̯], as in gai1 (雞, chicken)
  • au: [ɐu̯], as in au1 (勾, hook)
  • ei: [ei̯], as in gei1 (機, machine)
  • eu: [ɛːu̯], as in deu6 (掉, throw)
  • iu: [iːu̯], as in giu3 (叫, call)
  • oi: [ɔːy̯], as in oi3 (愛, love)
  • ou: [ou̯], as in gou1 (高, high)
  • ui: [uːy̯], as in pui4 (陪, accompany)
  • eui: [ɵy̯], as in zeoi3 (醉, drunk)

Tai–Kadai languages


In addition to vowel nuclei following or preceding /j/ and /w/, Thai has three diphthongs which exist as long-short pairs:[46]

  • เอีย ia [iːa̯, ia̯]
  • เอือ üa [ɯːa̯, ɯa̯]
  • อัว ua [uːa̯, ua̯]

Mon-Khmer languages


In addition to vowel nuclei following or preceding /j/ and /w/, Vietnamese has three diphthongs:

  • [iə̯] ia~iê
  • [ɨə̯] ưa~ươ
  • [uə̯] ua~uô


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

  • [iə̯]
  • [ei̯]
  • [ɐe̯]
  • [ɨə̯]
  • [əɨ̯]
  • [ɐə̯]
  • [ao̯]
  • [uə̯]
  • [ou̯]
  • [ɔə̯]
  • [eə̯̆]
  • [uə̯̆]
  • [oə̯̆]

Bantu languages


Zulu has only monophthongs. Y and w are semi-vowels:

  • [ja] as in [ŋijaɠuˈɓɛːɠa] ngiyakubeka (I am placing it)
  • [wa] as in [ŋiːwa] ngiwa (I fall/I am falling)

Austronesian languages


Indonesian languages, particularly the lingua franca of Indonesian, have only a few diphthongs and are located at end of the words, mainly due to Arabic influences:

  • /ai/ the diphthong is pronounced as the long vowels /e/ as in pantai "beach"
  • /au/ the diphthong is pronounced as the long vowels /o/ as in atau "or"

See also


  1. ^ See broad and narrow transcription.


  1. ^ "diphthong". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House.
  2. ^ definition of 'Diphthong' on SIL International, accessed 17 January 2008
  3. ^ "Definition of DIPHTHONG". www.merriam-webster.com.
  4. ^ FileFormat.Info, page on combining inverted breve below
  5. ^ Used e.g. by Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), "1. Pronunciation", A Grammar of Afrikaans, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 8–9, ISBN 9783110134261 The author states that the Afrikaans diphthongs /eə øə oə/ can be transcribed /eᵊ øᵊ oᵊ/.
  6. ^ Used e.g. by Mangold, Max (2005), Das Aussprachewörterbuch (6th ed.), Duden, pp. 36–37, ISBN 978-3411040667. The author transcribes the diphthongs ⟨ai au eu⟩ as [a͜i a͜u ɔ͜y]. However, on page 36, he admits that phonetically, [aɪ̯ aʊ̯ ɔʏ̯] are more precise symbols.
  7. ^ Battisti (2000) Fonetica generale, p 224
  8. ^ E.g. Allen & Hawkins (1978) Development of Phonological Rhythm contranst ⟨⟩ from ⟨a͜ɪ⟩ from ⟨aᶦ
  9. ^ a b Chițoran (2002a:203)
  10. ^ Crystal, David (2008). Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Wiley. pp. "diphthong".
  11. ^ Richard M. Hogg, Norman Blake, R. W. Burchfield, The Cambridge History of the English Language, CUP 1992, p. 49.
  12. ^ Mangrio, Riaz Ahmed (2016-06-22). The Morphology of Loanwords in Urdu: The Persian, Arabic and English Strands. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443896634.
  13. ^ Kaye & Lowenstamm (1984:139)
  14. ^ Schane (1995:588)
  15. ^ Padgett (2007:1938)
  16. ^ Schane (1995:606)
  17. ^ Schane (1995:589, 606)
  18. ^ Gussenhoven (1992:46)
  19. ^ Verhoeven (2005:245)
  20. ^ Verhoeven (2007:221)
  21. ^ a b c d Wiese (1996:198)
  22. ^ Also supported by Tröster-Mutz (2011:20).
  23. ^ Kleine (2003:263)
  24. ^ Chitoran (2001:11)
  25. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54)
  26. ^ Institut d'Estudis Catalans Archived 30 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine Els diftongs, els triftongs i els hiats – Gramàtica de la Llengua Catalana (provisional draft)
  27. ^ e.g. Lleó (1970), Wheeler (1979)
  28. ^ Wheeler (2005:101)
  29. ^ Mascaró (2002:580–581)
  30. ^ Mascaró (2002:581)
  31. ^ Faria (2003:7)
  32. ^ a b Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  33. ^ a b Barbosa & Albano (2004:230)
  34. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:256)
  35. ^ Azevedo, Milton M. (2004). Introducción a la lingüística española (in Spanish) (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-110959-6.
  36. ^ Bertinetto & Loporcaro (2005:138)
  37. ^ Bertinetto & Loporcaro (2005:139)
  38. ^ Chițoran (2002a:204)
  39. ^ Chițoran (2002a:206)
  40. ^ Chițoran (2002b:217)
  41. ^ See Chițoran (2001:8–9) for a brief overview of the views regarding Romanian semivowels
  42. ^ Chițoran (2002b:213)
  43. ^ (in Croatian) Vjesnik Babić ne zagovara korijenski pravopis, nego traži da Hrvati ne piju mlijeko nego – mlieko
  44. ^ Josip Lisac. "Štokavsko narječje: prostiranje i osnovne značajke". Kolo (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 17 February 2008.
  45. ^ Borg & Azzopardi-Alexander (1997:299)
  46. ^ Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993:25)


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Bahamian English

Bahamian English is a variety of English spoken in the Bahamas and by Bahamian diasporas. The standard for official use and education is British-based.

Coorgi–Cox alphabet

The Coorgi–Cox alphabet is an abugida developed by the linguist Gregg M. Cox that is used by a number of individuals within Kodagu district of India to write the endangered Dravidian language of Kodava, also known sometimes as Coorgi.The script uses a combination of 26 consonants, five vowel diacritics and a diphthong marker. Each letter represents a single sound and there are no capital letters. A computer-based font has been created.The script was developed out of the request by a group of Kodava individuals to have a distinct script for Kodava Takk, to distinguish the language. Kodava Takk is generally written in the Kannada script, but can also be found written in the Malayalam script, especially along the borders with Kerala. The new script is intended as a unified writing system for all Kodava Takk speakers.In order to introduce the script, 10,000 CD booklets and 25,000 post cards with various scenes from the region were produced and distributed throughout the Coorg area in March and April 2005. Several books are being planned including a phrase book and dictionary.

Diaeresis (prosody)

In poetic meter, diaeresis ( or , also spelled diæresis or dieresis) has two meanings: the separate pronunciation of the two vowels in a diphthong for the sake of meter, and a division between feet that corresponds to the division between words.

Synaeresis, the pronunciation of two vowels as a diphthong (or as a long vowel), is the opposite of the first definition.


*Ehwaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark e rune ᛖ, meaning "horse" (cognate to Latin equus, Gaulish epos, Tocharian B yakwe, Sanskrit aśva, Avestan aspa and Old Irish ech). In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as ᛖ eh (properly eoh, but spelled without the diphthong to avoid confusion with ᛇ ēoh "yew").

The Proto-Germanic vowel system was asymmetric and unstable. The difference between the long vowels expressed by ᛖ e and ᛇ ï (sometimes transcribed as *ē1 and *ē2) were lost. The Younger Futhark continues neither, lacking a letter expressing e altogether. The Anglo-Saxon futhorc faithfully preserved all Elder futhorc staves, but assigned new sound values to the redundant ones, futhorc ēoh expressing a diphthong.

In the case of the Gothic alphabet, where the names of the runes were re-applied to letters derived from the Greek alphabet, the letter 𐌴 e was named aíƕus "horse" as well (note that in Gothic orthography, represents monophthongic /e/).


Eiwaz or Eihaz (reconstructed *īhaz / *ēhaz or *īwaz / *ēwaz) was a Proto-Germanic word for "yew", and the reconstructed name of the rune ᛇ.

The rune survives in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc as ᛇ Ēoh "yew" (note that eoh "horse" has a short diphthong). Ēoh could behave as both a vowel (perhaps /iː/), and as a consonant (in the range of /x ~ ç/). As a vowel, Ēoh shows up in jïslheard (ᛡᛇᛋᛚᚻᛠᚱᛞ) on the Dover Stone. As a consonant, Ēoh shows up in almeïttig (ᚪᛚᛗᛖᛇᛏᛏᛁᚷ) on the Ruthwell Cross.It is commonly transliterated as ï or æ, or, in reconstructions of Proto-Germanic, ē2. Its phonetic value at the time of the invention of the Futhark (2nd century) was not necessarily a diphthong, but possibly a long vowel somewhere between [iː] and [eː] or [æː], continuing Proto-Indo-European language *ei.

Two variants of the word are reconstructed for Proto-Germanic, *īhaz (*ē2haz, PIE *eikos), continued in Old English as ēoh (also īh), and *īwaz (*ē2waz, Proto-Indo-European *eiwos), continued in Old English as īw (whence yew). The latter is possibly an early loan from the Celtic, compare Gaulish ivos, Breton ivin, Welsh ywen, Old Irish ēo. The common spelling of the rune's name, "Eihwaz", combines the two variants; strictly based on the Old English evidence, a spelling "Eihaz" would be more proper.

The Anglo-Saxon rune poem:

ᛇ Eoh byþ utan unsmeþe treoƿ,

heard hrusan fæst, hyrde fyres,

ƿyrtrumun underƿreþyd, ƿyn on eþle.The yew is a tree with rough bark,

hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,

a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.The rune is not to be confused with the Sowilo rune, which has a somewhat similar shape, or with Ehwaz, the rune expressing short e or ē1. In the Younger Futhark, there is the terminal -R rune ᛦ Yr "yew", but neither its shape nor its sound is related to the Eihwaz rune: it is, rather, a continuation of Algiz.

English in Barbados

Barbadian English or Bajan English is a dialect of the English language as used by Barbadians (Bajans) and by Barbadian diasporas. It should not be confused with Bajan Creole, which is an English-based creole language.


Fremitus is a vibration transmitted through the body. In common medical usage, it usually refers to assessment of the lungs by either the vibration intensity felt on the chest wall (tactile fremitus) and/or heard by a stethoscope on the chest wall with certain spoken words (vocal fremitus), although there are several other types.

Hamburg German

Hamburg German, also known as Hamburg or Hamburger dialect (German: Hamburger Platt), is a group of Northern Low Saxon varieties spoken in Hamburg, Germany. Occasionally, the term Hamburgisch is also used for Hamburg Missingsch, a variety of standard German with Low Saxon substrates. These are urban dialects that have absorbed numerous English and Dutch loanwords, for instance Törn ‘trip’ (< turn) and suutje ‘gently’ (< Dutch zoetjes).

Hamburg is pronounced [ˈhambɔrç] in these dialects, with a "ch" similar to that in the standard German word Milch. Typical of the Hamburg dialects and other Lower Elbe dialects is the pronunciation (and spelling) eu (pronounced oi) for the diphthong /œɪ/ (written öö, öh or ö), e.g.

However, as in most other Low Saxon (Low German) dialects, the long monophthong /øː/ is pronounced [ø] (as in French peu), for instance Kööm ~ Kœm [kʰøːm] ‘caraway’.

The Low Saxon language in Hamburg is divided in several subdialects, e.g.

Finkwarder Platt

Olwarder Platt

Veerlanner Platt (with many sub-sub-dialects)

Barmbeker PlattThe Hamborger Veermaster is a famous sea shanty sung in the regional dialect.

How now brown cow

"How now brown cow" () is a phrase used in elocution teaching to demonstrate rounded vowel sounds. Each "ow" sound in the phrase represents the diphthong /aʊ/. Although orthographies for each of the four words in this utterance is represented by the English spelling "ow", the articulation required to create this same diphthong represented by the International Phonetic Association's phonetic alphabet as /aʊ/ is also represented by the spelling "ou". Some examples of these homophonic /aʊ/'s are the English words "house", "blouse", "noun", and "cloud". The use of the phrase "how now brown cow" in teaching elocution can be dated back to at least 1926.Although not in use today, the phrase "how now" is a greeting, short for "how say you now", and can be found in archaic literature, such as the plays of William Shakespeare.


I (named i , plural ies) is the ninth letter and the third vowel in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Iota subscript

The iota subscript is a diacritic mark in the Greek alphabet shaped like a small vertical stroke or miniature iota ⟨ι⟩ placed below the letter. It can occur with the vowel letters eta ⟨η⟩, omega ⟨ω⟩, and alpha ⟨α⟩. It represents the former presence of an [i] offglide after the vowel, forming a so‐called "long diphthong". Such diphthongs (i.e., ηι, ωι, ᾱι)—phonologically distinct from the corresponding normal or "short" diphthongs (i.e., ει, οι, ᾰι )—were a feature of ancient Greek in the pre-classical and classical eras.

The offglide was gradually lost in pronunciation, a process that started already during the classical period and continued during the Hellenistic period, with the result that from approximately the 1st century BC onwards the former long diphthongs were no longer distinguished in pronunciation from the simple long vowels (long monophthongs) η, ω, ᾱ respectively.During the Roman and Byzantine eras, the iota, now mute, was sometimes still written as a normal letter but was often simply left out. The iota subscript was invented by Byzantine philologists in the 12th century AD as an editorial symbol marking the places where such spelling variation occurred.The alternative practice, of writing the mute iota not under, but next to the preceding vowel, is known as iota adscript. In mixed-case environments, it is represented either as a slightly reduced iota (smaller than regular lowercase iota), or as a full-sized lowercase iota. In the latter case, it can be recognized as iota adscript by the fact that it never carries any diacritics (breathing marks, accents).

Iotas carrying diacritics are not iota adscripts, but part of a diphthong. In uppercase-only environments, it is represented again either as slightly reduced iota (smaller than regular lowercase iota), or as a full-sized uppercase Iota. In digital environments, and for linguistic reasons also in all other environments, the representation as a slightly reduced iota is recommended. There are Unicode codepoints for all Greek vowels with iota adscript (for example, U+1FBC ᾼ GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA WITH PROSGEGRAMMENI), allowing for easy implementation of that recommendation in digital environments.


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 of monophthongization is vowel breaking.

Occitan phonology

This article describes the phonology of the Occitan language.

Old English phonology

Old English phonology is necessarily somewhat speculative since Old English is preserved only as a written language. Nevertheless, there is a very large corpus of the language, and the orthography apparently indicates phonological alternations quite faithfully, so it is not difficult to draw certain conclusions about the nature of Old English phonology.

Old English had a distinction between short and long (doubled) consonants, at least between vowels (as seen in sunne "sun" and sunu "son", stellan "to put" and stelan "to steal"), and a distinction between short vowels and long vowels in stressed syllables. It had a larger number of vowel qualities in stressed syllables – /i y u e o æ ɑ/ and in some dialects /ø/ – than in unstressed ones – /ɑ e u/. It had diphthongs that no longer exist in Modern English, which were /iu̯ eo̯ æɑ̯/, with both short and long versions.

Old Gutnish

Old Gutnish or Old Gotlandic was a North Scandinavian language spoken on the Baltic island of Gotland. It shows sufficient differences from the Old West Norse and Old East Norse dialects that it is considered to be a separate branch. While vastly divergent from Old Gutnish and closer to Modern Swedish, a modern version of Gutnish is still spoken in some parts of Gotland and the adjoining island of Fårö.

The root Gut is identical to Goth, and it is often remarked that the language has similarities with the Gothic language. These similarities have led scholars such as Elias Wessén and Dietrich Hofmann to suggest that it is most closely related to Gothic. The best known example of such a similarity is that Gothic and Gutnish called both adult and young sheep lamb.

The Old Norse diphthong au (e.g. auga "eye") remained in Old Gutnish and Old West Norse, while in Old East Norse – except for peripheral dialects – it evolved into the monophthong ǿ, i.e. a long version of ø. Likewise the diphthong ai in bain (bone) remained in Old Gutnish while it in Old West Norse became ei as in bein and in Old East Norse it became é (bén). Whereas Old West Norse had the ey diphthong and Old East Norse evolved the monophthong ǿ) Old Gutnish had oy.

Most of the corpus of Old Gutnish is found in the Gutasaga from the 13th century.


In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide, also known as a non-syllabic voiced, is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants y and w, in yes and west, respectively. Written in IPA, y and w are near to the vowels ee and oo in seen and moon, written in IPA. The term glide may alternatively refer to any type of transitional sound, not necessarily a semivowel.


Yodh (also spelled yud, yod, jod, or jodh) is the tenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Yōd , Hebrew Yōd י, Aramaic Yodh , Syriac Yōḏ ܝ, and Arabic Yāʾ ي (first in abjadi order, but last in modern order). Its sound value is /j/ in all languages for which it is used; in many languages, it also serves as a long vowel, representing /iː/.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Iota (Ι), Latin I, J, Cyrillic І, Coptic iauda (Ⲓ) and Gothic eis .


Æ (minuscule: æ) is a grapheme named æsc or ash, formed from the letters a and e, originally a ligature representing the Latin diphthong ae. It has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese. As a letter of the Old English Latin alphabet, it was called æsc ("ash tree") after the Anglo-Saxon futhorc rune ᚫ ( ) which it transliterated; its traditional name in English is still ash . It was also used in Old Swedish before being changed to ä. In recent times, it is also used to represent a short "a" sound (as in "cat"). Variants include Ǣ ǣ Ǽ ǽ æ̀.


Œ (minuscule: œ) is a Latin alphabet grapheme, a ligature of o and e. In medieval and early modern Latin, it was used to represent the Greek diphthong οι and in a few non-Greek words, usages that continue in English and French. In French, it is also used in some non-learned words, representing then mid-front rounded vowel-sounds, rather than sounding the same as é or è, those being its traditional French values in the words borrowed from or via Latin.

It is used in the modern orthography for Old West Norse and is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the open-mid front rounded vowel. In English runology, œ is used to transliterate the Runic letter odal ᛟ (Old English ēðel "estate, ancestral home").

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