IPA diphthongs

LanDi Liu strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 22 04:39:38 UTC 2008

Oh, come on guys, at least have *some* things to say!


On Sat, Apr 19, 2008 at 10:51 PM, LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      IPA diphthongs
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In the Sophia, Maria / what do pros do thread, Damian Hall said:
> > No, we don't as far as I (white, 30s, Londoner) am aware, except in the stock
> > phrase 'black Maria' for a police vehicle used to transport people from prison
> > to court etc, which always has [m@ rai @].  And I'm not sure how many people
> > would use _that_ any more, since it's losing what little transparency it still
> > had:  'black Marias' are usually coloured white, and the 'Maria' part was never
> > transparent (recently) anyway.  The girl's name is always [m@ ri: @], and it's
> > always [a: vej m@ ri: @] for the Latin prayer, etc.
> I'm interested in people's thought's on IPA diphthong notation.
> Here, we see [ai] and [ej], and at the other extreme we sometimes see
> [aI] and [eI] and even just [e].  Probably the latter ones are more
> common, but I see them as less accurate.  I'm not too fond of the [j]
> notation in vowels, because I see [j], [w], and [r] (used as in [rEd]
> -- not the trill) as semi-plosives that feature opening movements
> rather than closing movements, but I find them preferable to
> diphthongs with [I] and [U] in American English.
> When I see [aI] and [eI], I hear RP, but with [ai] (or with the round
> a) and [ei] I hear "General American", so when people use [aI]/[eI] to
> transcribe American speech, it gives me a "this is wrong" kind of
> sensation.
> I remember reading somewhere (this was a long time ago, so I have no
> idea where; if it rings a bell, please speak up) that the second
> character in a diphthong shows the direction of the diphthong, and not
> the destination, and that which character is used is up to personal
> preference.  I know that IPA is designed to be flexible, but I also
> find it disconcerting that the IPA handbook doesn't give a clue on how
> to transcribe or represent diphthongs.
> When I teach pronunciation here, I use [ɑi], [ei] [ou] (or [o̜u] to
> contrast with the ), [oi], and [æu].  I avoid using [a] because it is
> used to represent vowels all along the bottom of the vowel quadrangle,
> and I want to be clear which vowels are more front and which are more
> back.  Does anyone find this usage undesirable in any respect?
> --
> Randy Alexander
> Jilin City, China
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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