Joe Tun   Friday, December 05, 2003, 14:19 GMT
In A LITTLE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF PHONETICS, P. Roach, http://www.personal.rdg.ac.uk/~llsroach/encyc.pdf, has listed only 8 diphthongs in the entry for diphthongs: 3 (U026A)-enders; 2 (U028A)- enders; and 3 (U0259)-enders. No mention was made of an [i] (U0069)-ender as in <buy>, which he mentioned under Symbols for English Transcription. Obviously, there is confusion with regards to the English diphthongs: a very unfortunate situation for non-English speakers and English-speakers from countries other than Britain.
To add to the confusion, most ESL learners do not realized that English is mostly diphthongs, not simple vowels. This is especially true of people from Myanmar, whose language (Burmese) uses only pure vowels.
Note: (Uxxxx) are Unicode numbers.
I would appreciate if Professor Roach himself would respond.
Simon   Friday, December 05, 2003, 14:57 GMT
For me the diphthong in buy rhymes with eye, lie, and fry.

Could you elaborate on what you're getting at.

I think the IPA is good but it deals best with the distinctness of sounds rather than the fundamentally important relationships between them. If a schwa replaces a vowel in an unstressed position it is still related to the original vowel. It is to do with the way the speaker pronounces the original vowel weakly losing its distinction with other vowels and being heard as a schwa.

But in my mind the A of Another is an A not a schwa. The same with the Os in prOfessOr. If I were to stress the vowel, it would not be a stressed schwa but the original vowel.

The same with diphthongs. Long vowels often become diphthongs. Why? Well, with some accents the mouth gradually closes off the sound rather than suddenly at the end. It is like in acoustics. The sound can be sustained and suddenly stopped or it can decay gradually. So regardless of whether the phoneme is a long E or an E followed by a schwa, they are both simply different approaches to the concept of extending the E. In the IPA the long vowel and the diphthong would like quite different but to see them as different is to misunderstand the fundamental relationship they have to each other.

Maybe the IPA should be completely revised or a special alphabet created for the needs of English language learning. For example the long vowel could be E-> and the diphtong could be E\.
Mike   Friday, December 05, 2003, 20:17 GMT
How do you pronounce ''diphthongs''?
Hank Brass   Sunday, December 07, 2003, 05:39 GMT
"... has listed only 8 diphthongs in the entry for diphthongs:"

How many do you want there to be? The vowels he shows are, as he says, correct for BBC English. And the vowel in "buy" is the same as the vowel in "eye" and "tie".
Hank Brass   Sunday, December 07, 2003, 05:47 GMT
Oh, I see the point. "Buy" *isn't* an i-ender, it's an I-ender (small-capital I). It's [aI], not [ai] as in Spanish "ai-ai-ai!"
Jim   Wednesday, December 10, 2003, 03:56 GMT
I guess what you're referring to is the apparent contradiction that you find in his encyclopædia. On pg 21 he lists [aI] whereas on pg 2 he lists [ai] as one of the eight diphthongs. No mention of [ai] was made on pg 21 nor was a mention of [aI] made on pg 2.

So, what's going on? These are not two distinct phonemes* but the same one (the "uy" in "buy") transcribed differently. Perhaps one of the transcriptions is a mistake. That's all I think it boils down to: a typing error (on pg 2). Still, it would take a trained ear to tell the difference between [ai] and [aI], not something ESL students should be loosing sleep over.

* ... or combinations of phonemes ... see pg 21.
ie-   Wednesday, December 10, 2003, 04:01 GMT