Sunday, July 10, 2016

preliminary notes on diphthongs and antidiphthongs

a diphthong is made of a vowel and a semi-vowel.  The semi-vowels in spanish are i and u.  When they are being semi-vowels they're like y and w.  When an i or a u comes next to an a, e, or o, it's by default a semi-vowel.

So

ai is pronounced like ay
ei is pronounced like ey
oi is pronounced like oy

ia is pronounced like ya
ie is pronounced like ye
io is pronounced like yo

au is pronounced like aw (like the english word "ow" actually)
eu is pronounced like ew (not a typical english vowel sound, nothing to compare to)
ou is pronounced like ow (as in "owe")

ua is pronounced like wa
ue is pronounced like we
uo is pronounced like wo

When i and u are together, the first one is the semi-vowel and the second one is the vowel.

iu is pronounced like yu
ui is pronouncd like wi

note the word "muy".  It's spelled with a y, not an i, which seems to indicate that the u should be the vowel and the y should be the semi-vowel, but some people pronounce is like "mwi", rhyming with the word "fui" which is pronounce like "fwi".

If you have one of these letter combinations but they DON'T form a diphthong, that's called an antidiphthong, and if the vowel that would have been the semi-vowel is instead the stressed vowel of the word, then it needs an accent mark.  (It's possible but rare to have an antidiphthong where the would-be semi-vowel is not the stressed vowel of the word.  In that case it does not get an accent mark, but the word might end up with an accent mark on its stressed vowel for some other reason.)

países is paheeses, not payses
leíste not leyste
oíste not oyste

día has an accent mark because it's deeah, not "dya".
vacíe is not "vacye"
confío is not "confyo"

raúl not rawl
reúne not rewne
can't find examples of oú

gradúa
gradúe
gradúo

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