What is a diphthong?

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by becky, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    These came up in Jeannie's reading today and I didn't like their example. Can someone give me a definition and examples? Thanks.
     
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  3. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I teach my second graders that it is a special vowel team that makes you move your mouth while making the sound such as the oy in boy and oi in boil.
     
  4. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    It is when two vowels are together and you hear a sound from each one, like in teacherintexas' example above!
     
  5. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I is a diphthong. (Joke!)
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

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    Diphthong is from Greek: di 'two', phthong 'sound'. A diphthong is a vowel of two sounds; teacherintexas's definition ("it makes you move your mouth") works pretty well.

    (In what follows, I use angled brackets <, > to enclose spellings and slashes / for phones/phonemes (since A to Z doesn't do well with regular brackets), and of course I'm faking the phonetic transcriptions.)

    For the teacher of reading, the diphthongs in English are <oi, oy> (phonetically /oi/) as in boy and noise, <ou, ow> (phonetically /au/) as in house and crowd, and <i, y> (phonetically /ai/) as in like and by.

    An additional diphthong of interest is <u, ew> (phonetically /ju/) as in pure and few, but American English isn't consistent about that one: many of us pronounce <new> to rhyme with who, not few. It's also been pointed out that speakers of American English tend to diphthongize long vowels: <a> as in day tends to be pronounced /ei/, not /e/, and <o> as in go is often /ow/, not just /o/; but those are phonetic distinctions that don't make a difference to the spelling system, and they vary from dialect to dialect.
     
  7. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    Thanks, everybody.
     
  8. ABall

    ABall Fanatic

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    Becky, I'm glad someone answered you seriously, you know what kind of answer I would have put! ;)
     
  9. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    When we studied phonics in college we thought of a thong bikini. You hear both cheeks rubbing together and they make a new sound like the two vowels in a diphthong make a new sound. It worked! :D
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Christy, that is HILARIOUS! :D
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Cheeky.
     
  12. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    I just got this wrong on my final exam a couple of days back... mixed it up with diagraphs :(

    Dipthongs are combinations of two vowels in which you kind of blend the two sounds.
     
  13. MissMcCollum

    MissMcCollum Companion

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    That is both funny and wrong at the same time. I like it. :D
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    "Funny and wrong" makes for memorability.

    For sake of completeness:

    Think of a diphthong (pronounced DIFF-thong) as a special kind of vowel that has more than one sound - a sort of vowel blend, if you will.

    A digraph (and that's di 'two', graph 'write': and watch the spelling, because there's only one a in digraph) is two consonant letters written together to represent a single sound. Handily, the word digraph contains a digraph: let's see who can identify it. And let's see who can list some other digraphs.

    A blend is two consonants occurring together but in this case each consonant retains its own sound. Just like a single consonant, a blend can be the onset of a syllable in English or the coda of a syllable in English. Some blends are impossible as onsets: /rt/, for example, isn't okay at the beginning of a syllable, but /st/ is fine. Can someone find a blend in the word blend?
     
  15. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    digraph = ph = /f/

    blend = bl = /bl/
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Yup. Now how about other diphthongs? Other blends?
     
  17. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    mistakes in post.....

    I'm spring cleaning (it's still spring) and tbo was on the net choosing wives for Henry VIII at pbs.org. I asked her why she wants to doom a woman like that...she likes it. Anyway, she said I had a message. I'm not checking the infinity one, don't want to get hooked in just now. But I can't resist the temptation of this one 'cause I love phonics. :)

    dipthongs = oy, oi, you already have, au, aw, ew, eu, oo, ou, ow
    all I can think of for now

    digraphs = ch, ck, gh, gh, gn, kn, ph, sch, sh, th, wh, wr, ...

    blends = bl, br, cl, cr, dr, gl, ld, nd, ng, sl, sn, spr, st, str...

    In espanol, dipthong = uy, ay, ... :)

    Where does "qu" go? Yo no recuerdo a este momento. (I don't remember at this moment.)
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Flashback to elementary school: Sister Theresa Marie teaching us about Dipthongs and Diagraphs.

    I'll leave the material to the pros, but thanks for the flashback!!
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Watch it, all, especially those taking teacher tests: there are two <h>'s in diphthong. (That's why the pronunciation is DIFF-thong, not DIP-thong.) And there's only one <a> in digraph: again, it means 'two (di) written (graph)' symbols.

    I wouldn't treat <ght> as a digraph for two reasons. First, it's three letters, which would technically make it a trigraph. (Yes, yes, I'm being obnoxiously literalist; you wouldn't be the first poster on A to Z to complain...) Second, and more important, consider the words weigh and though and nigh. How many sounds in each? One consonant (/w/ or /th/ or /n/) plus one vowel (phonetically /e/ or /o/) or diphthong, yes? So it makes more sense to treat the <gh> as part of writing the vowel in current English. (Time was when <gh> did indeed write a consonant that was very like a hard /g/ but without stopping the air entirely.)

    As to <qu>, you tell me: how many sounds in English? How many in Spanish? The answers will help you answer your question.
     
  20. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    I don't know anyone who says diffthong except you. :) Truly. We're all saying it wrong but it sounds cute that way. :)

    Your secret, does it have anything to do with RICA:

    Domain I. ****
    Domain II. ****
    Domain III. ****
    Domain IV. ***
    Case study domains 1-4. ****

    :) Bye, now I'm not coming back 'till way later. Still have church to go to and then dinner reception afterward. Have fun grammar five oh! :) :) :) LOL = Lots of Love :)
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Secret? With RICA?
     
  22. elem_teacher3

    elem_teacher3 Companion

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    okay...here is an odd way to remember diphthong and digraph...think of a thong...separates two cheeks...so there are two sounds. ;)
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Diphthong. Digraph. People, please spell 'em correctly on tests and in writings to the district or county office, okay?

    A diagraph is either a drawing tool (http://www.infoplease.com/dictionary/diagraph) or a company that makes marking and stenciling equipment and supplies (http://www.diagraphmsp.com). (The prefix dia is Greek for 'through' or 'over', in case anyone wonders.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2007
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm surprised at the complexity of these definitions! I always just say that a diphthong is a set of two vowels that make one new special sound.

    I give the example of the diphthong 'ae' in Latin.
    'a' by itself sounds like 'ah'
    'e' by itself sounds like 'ay'
    together 'ae' sounds like long i
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    It's less complicated in Latin, which has the decency reliably to write its diphthongs with more than one letter - that "long i" thing is exactly the problem.

    I'm hammering away at the spellings because these ARE technical terms of the field.
     
  26. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Okay, operational definitions for the OP:

    Consonant blend: a combination of 2 or 3 consonants that appear consecutively in a word and each consonant represent its most common sound. These can be initial or final consonants, as in /sw/ in swell or /str/ in strap or /sk/ in mask.

    Consonant digraph: a combination of two consonant letters representing a single speech sound, as gn for /n/ in gnat, or gh for /f/ in rough.

    Digraph: two letters that represent one speech sound, as ch for /ch/ in chin or ea for /e/ in bread.

    Diphthong: a vowel sound produced when the tongue moves or glides from one vowel sound towards another vowel sound or semivowel sound in the same syllable, as /i/ in buy and vowel sounds in bee, bay, book, boy, and bough.

    (Pepperdine University, 2002)

    Actually, my linguistics textbook says that “according to the system we are using, the diphthongs ae only three: /ay/ as in by, /aw/ as in bough, and /_y/ as in boy.” (can’t make the backwards c symbol for oy) But my school district, among others (CORE for example), does not agree with that. The rule I follow is that a vowel diphthong is when the two letters form a new sound that neither one of the letters “say” alone. Someone else said it better and more simply above. In fact, the textbook goes on to define a diphthong as “...consist[ing] of a vowel plus a glide that occur in the same syllable...” Meaning: it just slides right off your tongue. :)

    Language is a living thing, it just won’t fit into our boxes. I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you, I'm working on something else right now and it's keeping me busy. (Think 269-page brief; only an attorney could call a 200-page document a "brief.") :) I will go back and edit the errors in my previous post because it is wrong to teach something incorrect.
    However, Grammar Five Oh, I wish that you would keep in mind that we are all just talking here and I am sure are much more responsible in the classroom--give us the benefit of the doubt, please. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2007
  27. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Was that directed at me? I'm just trying to ensure that people writing tests don't get in trouble for misspelling technical terms of the field - and these are terms that are misspelled with great regularity.
     
  28. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    But were we talking about tests here? :) I was talking with you here, mea culpa, yes, but saying it not only you, not in the least. I see now why someone made the comment on the drama thread that they felt "many have judged." When you say, "directed," that makes it sound as though you took it as a hit. But it wasn't meant that way at all. It was just exactly what I said, I was “axing” that we all remember we are just communicating here and we're going to make mistakes. We aren't sitting here with books in hand (as in the classroom) making sure we do it right. It isn’t just about grammar, there are some very judgmental comments on the forum about other teachers and parents. We’re all in this together. That's what I was saying...I thought you’d like being called in a PC way "Grammar five oh"...from a conversation you and 25 Years had. You don’t like it I will stop right now. I won’t even think it, believe me. LOL = Lots of Love :) :)
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Whoa, whoa, whoa. First, 'k8r, I was merely trying to confirm that one of the respondents in your class action was indeed small moi - I'm running on not much sleep, and spent five minutes rummaging through the thread trying to find the post by Grammar Five Oh. And I wanted to explain my motivation, which is not to put people on the spot but to help them cover tail.

    (I think I have been very, very good about refraining from pointing out most errors of grammar and spelling. It takes an effort: geek that I am, I literally cannot help noticing them. *sigh*)

    Second, will you please stop apologizing for your opinions, to which you have a right? Pleeeeeeeeease?
     
  30. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    TG, thanks. :) What I feel is that my opinions are mine, not others, and I don't have the right to share them if they are going to offend someone. Well, unless they are really picking on someone else who isn't there to defend themselves. You are not a geek, you do need to write a book, though. Your combined knowledge and sense of humor will make it a bestseller, I'm thinking. :)

    I made up the Grammar Five Oh because the kids in my class told me that police are called "poh poh's" and "5 oh's" and I thought it was soooo funny. And I read here that it offends someone to use the term nazi, so I thought this term was...cuter and not offensive. :)
     
  31. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    P.S. Get some sleep! :)
    Oh, and I just noticed your comments about "class action"--very funny! :) You are so quick-witted. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2007
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    You know how chickens run around even after their heads have been cut off? Well, it's been speculated that, after I'm declared dead, I will still manage a pun or two. Sad, isn't it?

    I am indeed a geek - I mean, let's call an entrenching tool an entrenching tool, shall we? Though I refuse to admit to dweebhood. (Golly, I hope I got those terms right.)

    If we called me la migra gramática, would that be borderline offensive?
     
  33. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Ewwww! Yes I have seen that once before and believe me that was once too many times. Don't give me pictures, TG. :)

    No, I don't think it's PC if you call yourself a grammar border patrol. :) How about la maestra de gramatica?
    I like that. But I like 5 oh too. It still makes me laugh. :)
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Five Oh is cute, yes.

    The point, though, is that I don't want the non-teacherly world having ANY excuses to disregard or disparage teachers' points of view.
     
  35. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    TG, and anyone else who is reading this: My neighbor has just told me that migra is a "very offensive racial comment to say to a hispanic." Very, very offensive. So let's don't ever bring that up again, okay. Ouch.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    (Insert here hands clamped over miscreant mouth.)
     
  37. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Me, too. I don't know racial slang comments because I don't hang around with that kind of person. I had no idea it had that kind of connotation. I did have an idea that it probably wouldn't sound like a thing to bring up but I did not know it was actually an offensive term.
     
  38. Madeline

    Madeline New Member

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    Aug 15, 2007

    Dear eduk8r,
    You seem to have a really good grasp of this digraph/diphthongs stuff...do you know where online I could find a comprehensive list of each letter combination that would fall under each?
    Cheers Madeline
     
  39. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'm not eduk8r, but will I do?

    Diphthongs aren't about spelling, they're about sound. The difference between a pure vowel and a diphthong is that, in the course of saying a diphthong, your articulators (tongue and lips, primarily, though certainly the jaw gets in the act) change position.

    Linguistically, diphthongs are a bit of a vexed issue: for one thing, you Aussies have several diphthongs where we in the States have r-colored vowels (think about Aussie vs. American pronunciations of poor, for example). There's a list of what linguists recognize as diphthongs in several varieties of English at http://www.answers.com/topic/diphthong.

    For teaching purposes, I think it suffices to deal with /ai/ as in kite or by, /oi/ as in boy or noise, and /au/ as in house or down.

    Digraphs (di 'two', graph 'write') are a good deal more straightforward. There is an extremely thorough list at http://www.answers.com/topic/digraph-orthography - though I'm not sure I'd classify letter sequences like <ow> that spell diphthongs as digraphs, exactly. And no one I know seriously uses the categories trigraph or tetragraph.
     
  40. Madeline

    Madeline New Member

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    Aug 15, 2007

    Hi....again...eduk8r

    Thanks for your help...can you confirm if my understanding is getting close to correct..

    A combination of letters that represents a single sound is firstly a digraph)the combination could include...vowel/vowel or vowel/consonant...eg...'ea' is a vowel digraph....and the diphthong is the sounds it makes..eg...'ea' as in 'meat' or 'bread'. ...
    NO I don't think I have it yet...I am confusing myself...A diphthong is the sound formed by two merging vowels.

    So....how do you describe the sounds of the letter combination 'or' as in 'cord'. The combination of letters is the 'or' digraph...how are the sounds described as it can't be a diphthong as it is not two vowels...? It is a vowel consonant....my understanding of dipthong is that it is the sound made by two vowels...

    If I am creating a game that includes these letter combinations missing from each of the listed words: ai/train, ar/star, ea/bean, ee/tree,ey/key, er/fern, ir/skirt, ur/curl,ow/crow, oa/goat, oi/toilet, oy/boy, oo/book, ew/screw,ue/glue,or/torch, ow/owl, oo/spoon, ou/mouse. Would it be correct to give the instruction - Match the missing digraph to complete the word?

    Also, can you explain the difference between these two...digraph and monophthong?
    Thanks again...and sorry for being so painful...
    Madeline
     
  41. Madeline

    Madeline New Member

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    Aug 15, 2007

    Hi eduk8r,
    I looked further into the link you sent me...and discovered -
    ai/train, ea/bean, ow/owl, ow/crow, ew/screw, ou/mouse - are classified as digraphs.

    The reference you game me did not include these as digraphs...

    ir/skirt, ur/curl,er/fern - I think that these are classified as 'r' controlled in the US...I think this is different here as we prounce these very differently...

    And what about these....
    ar/star, ee/tree,ey/key, oa/goat, oi/toilet, oy/boy, oo/book, ,ue/glue,or/torch, oo/spoon.

    I need help...I can't stand this...I keep reading more and more...but it doesn't seem to get any clearer..
    Cheers Madeline
     

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