Definition of triphthong – a union of three vowels (letters or sounds) pronounced in one syllable (as in fire). English doesn’t really have triphthongs because no phonemic sequence of three vowel sounds occupies the same syllable in English. As with. There are three triphthongs that are generally agreed upon in American English: / aʊə/ (“ah-oo-uh”), /aɪə/ (“ah-ih-uh”), and /jʊə/ (“ee-oo-uh”). These always.

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Smoothing means the loss of the second part of the strong vowel diphthong.

John Wells’s phonetic blog: triphthongs, anyone?

But I think you are too dismissive of the claim that pairs like hire and higher the examples you gave re Cowell are even potentially distinct. Turned into a running gag. Here it is again: By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. I don’t think this problem is necessarily distinctive of triphthongs.


Levente 11 December at How do you define syllabicity? If liar has a triphthong, surely trying must have one. Anonymous 11 December at Lazar 11 December at Clearly I can’t answer vp’s question addressed to James D: Taylor Feb 8 at The British Isles pp. HotLicks I have utterly no idea what you mean. Only the first half of the word the posited first syllable is the same.

I am trying to discover whether words like pliers as pronounced in the south of England contain actual triphthongs, and the homophonic playas was chosen to illustrate the apparent paradox of what triphthpngs like a pair of identical two-syllable englush where at least one is claimed to possess a triphthong in English. Posted by John Wells at Northern Bavarian has the following triphthongs: The nonsense jingle was provided to make clear both the sense and the pronunciation of playa as discussed in the original post below.


Does English really have triphthongs?

That’s definitely compression with smoothing, to the point where uncompressing and unsmoothing it would sound unnatural! I am only familiar with the syllable as a phonological notion. Why strip it of that power? So even when you pronounce the word as closely as the use of the English phonemes allow, you don’t get a semi-vowel between the syllables. The most complex English sounds of the vowel type are the triphthongs.

So, I really doubt the “indistinguishable” part. As with a diphthong, all components of a triphthong must occur in the same syllable. So diminuendo triphthongs were just an illusion, created by the effect of the final R. English teacher, Spanish learner and speaker for 15 years, living in Mexico. A flat silt- or sand-covered area, free of vegetation and usu. Oh I did so hope it was, but sadly it seems it’s not in any dictionary!

I will really appreciate it. Anonymous 10 December at Carol 14 December at It’s always hard for me to keep triphthonngs with all this British pronunciation. For instance, the dual pronuviation of “garage”. Those with an obvious morpheme boundary like “higher” are generally two, trilhthongs others, like “hire”, are often one.


For example, I grew up in suburban Massachusetts using the monosyllabic pronunciation of “our s ” without any other trace of smoothing in my speech. Does English really have triphthongs? About Me John Wells View my complete profile.

And how could we possibly decide that? My intuition which may not be reliable: Supposedly pliers has a triphthong in it there in RP.

I treat the items we are discussing as basically sequences of a strong vowel plus a weak vowel. I treat the items we are discussing as basically sequences of a strong vowel plus a weak vowel. John Wells 11 December at Even in dialects like Viennese, which turn all diphthongs into monophthongs, these words retain two englih.

For me, in familiar words the default is certainly smoothing: It appears that quite a few people have misunderstood this question. Lipman 10 December at Generic Cialis 21 September at Some authors describe the English vowel system as including not only diphthongs but also triphthongs.

English definitely has no triphthongs. Humbly Valdas Banaitis from Lithuania. Here in Australia, the first set in particular is generally pronounced as a distinct two syllables by some speakers [ni:.