On our blog already has an article «The vowels in the English language», with which you’re probably already familiar. In this article I would like to dwell on the phenomenon of phonetic system of English as diphthongs. Diphthongs in the Russian language is not, therefore, for language learners pronunciation of these sounds may cause some difficulties. To avoid this, let’s look at the concept of «diphthong in English,» and distinguish it from other elements of the speech.
Diphthongs and diftongoidy in English
As is known, in English on only six vowels accounts for twenty-two vowels. All vowels can be classified in several ways, namely:
- on the specifics of the position of the lips (labialized, nelabializovannye vowels)
- on the special situation of the language (the vowels of the front, middle, mixed, rear, deep back, is retracted, to advance the series); and vowel sounds high, medium and low-rise)
- at the time of pronunciation (long and short vowels)
- depending on the stability of articulation (pronunciation)
We are interested in is the last item. The presence or absence of changes in the pronunciation of vowels gives us the ability to distinguish between monophthongs, diftongoidy, diphthongs in English.
Monophthong — it sounds, saying that you do not change their articulation for the entire period of their sound. For example: [i], [e], [a], [ε] — far, ask, dog, book, form.
Diftongoidy — it sounds, the quality of which is nonuniform at the beginning and end of pronunciation. For example: [i:], [u:] — soon, loose, deed, sleep.
Diphthongs in English — («di» — two «ftong» — sound) — is indivisible sounds that consist of two different elements in quality. Typically, the composition of the diphthongs in English, one of the components is syllabic. Diphthong is considered to be top-down, if the syllabic is its first component, and if the second — the diphthong upward. Examples of diphthongs in English: [au], [ai], [ei], [oυ], [oi], [ie], [eu], [εe], [υe] — made, late, how, house, fight, bone, coin, tear, cope, fair, sure.
Moreover, in the English language there are also triphthongs, like this complex vowels, which are composed of three elements forming a syllable. There are two triphthongs: [aie] and [aυe]. Examples: fire, liar, hour, our, sour.
And do not be with all of these concepts confused digraphs — resistant combination of two letters are pronounced as a single sound. Example: [ei], [oi], [o:] — vein, oil, August, maid, loud, day, oak, see, mean.
Knowledge of various classifications and types of vowels (including diphthongs in English) in general will help you in the exercise of pronunciation, as you’ll know certain rules and options of reading a particular letter (and, hence, of a sound).