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12/06/22 1 SPEECH ARTICULATION 3. Diphthongs David Brett David Brett

Lecture 2 - diphthongs

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Text of Lecture 2 - diphthongs

SPEECH ARTICULATION 3. DiphthongsDavid Brett

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While the position of the tongue is more or less stable for a pure vowel

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a diphthong is characterised by a graceful movement from one point to another, for this reason they are also sometimes known as glides.

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This is also visible on a spectrogram: this is the pure vowel /a/

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and this is the diphthong / /. Notice how the formants (the dark bands) seperate towards the end.

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English diphthongs may cause Italian speakers difficulty for two main reasons:

Italian has four diphthongs (I think!) while English has eight. All the Italian diphthongs have equivalents in English which are not the same but which are reasonably similar Nowhere is the English spelling system more bizarre than in its representation of diphthongs15/05/09 6

If one has a clear idea of where pure vowels are articulated on the quadrilateral then interpreting the diphthong symbols is not difficult.

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Technically, English diphthongs are divided into two groups:

Closing diphthongs which tend to move from an open to a close position, these roughly correspond to Italian sounds Centring diphthongs which tend towards a central position ( / )

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First we will look at the closing group

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the pay, made, maid, reign, obey, sound:

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Then we have the I, my, tie, sigh, either, eye, Thai, sound:

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Then there is boy, choice:

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Then down, loud:

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To end the closing group, the most common diphthong in English, that of no, know,bone, foam, sew, though, dont, foe, crow:

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To start with the centring group, we have the most common, that of clear, deer, here, wier:

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Then air, where, wear, care, heir:

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Finally, there is a diphthong which is quite rare and is often realised as / :/ - tour, poor:

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Similar to pure vowels, the acoustic qualities (formants 1 and 2) of diphthongs may be plotted on a graph similar to the quadrilateral

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this is an elaborated plot of inverted values of F1 against F2 of the diphthong / /.

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One or two final considerations:

Although the symbols indicating pure vowels and the starting and closing points of diphthongs are often the same they do not necessarily correspond to the same points Lip rounding is another variable, generally associated with back vowels

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Finally:

Diphthongs are the element in a language which are most liable to change. The majority of the characteristics of a given accent are usually to be found in this area, so understanding of the underlying mechanics is vital if one wants to understand accents and accent change.

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