Diphthongs – IPA – Pronunciation – International Phonetic Alphabet


Rachel’s sound chart
Take a look at these letters. They’re not always pronounced the same. Take for example the word ‘height’: here they are the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. But in this word, weigh, they make the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong sound. This is why the International Phonetic Alphabet does make it easier to study pronunciation. This particular video focuses on diphthongs.

What is the International Phonetic Alphabet? It’s a system of phonetic notation, and I use it a lot on my website and when I teach students. I’ve also used it a lot when I’ve studied foreign languages. The IPA is especially handy when studying English because English is not a phonetic language. This means when you see a letter or a group of letters, it will not necessarily always be pronounced the same in each word in which it occurs, just as in the example at the beginning of this video. The IPA has a written symbol for each phonetic sound, so this makes it easier to read about and write about pronunciation. As a student of pronunciation, it’s important that you become familiar with the symbols that represent the sounds of American English.

Ow, say that with me, ow. This sound occurs in the words town, round, bow. Oh. Say that with me, oh. This sound occurs in the words though, no, show. Oy, oy. This sound occurs in the words toy, moist, joy. Ai, ai, This diphthong sound occurs in the words my, height, buy. Ay, ay. This sound occurs in the words fade, maid, gauge. Yu, yu, this sound occurs in the word beauty, union, feud. Great. Familiarizing yourself with these symbols should make it easier to study pronunciation. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

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