Diphthongs are sounds that contain two sounds within one syllable. If you were to clap for each syllable while you say these words, the diphthong would be part of just one clap. This article will discuss a diphthong unique to the British accent, the /eə/ diphthong, or the”air” diphthong.
To make the /eə/ diphthong sound, you will need to know how to make the separate sounds of /e/ as in “egg” and “any,” and /ə/, the schwa sound, shortly after each other. In a diphthong, the sound slides from the one sound, in this case the /e/ to the /ə/. You may notice that your mouth closes slightly and your lips move slightly forward as the vowel sound changes.
Very few American dialects contain this sound; the “air” diphthong pronounced as /eə/ is far more common in British English
Examples of the “Air” Diphthong as /eə/
The /eə/ sound can be written in many different ways. Note how these same words are pronounced as “r-controlled vowels” in American English:
Air /eə/ in British English, /er/ in American English
Square /skweə/ in British English /skwer/ in American English
Dare /deə/ in British English. /der/ in American English
For more on diphthongs, check out these articles:
- Introduction To Diphthongs
- /ɔɪ/ (Choice/Voice/Noise)
- /eɪ/ (Face/Make/Cake)
- /aɪ/ (Rice/Die/Bike)
- /oʊ/ (No, Low,Go)
- /aʊ/ (Out/Cow/South)
- /ɪə/ (Ear/Here/Near) (British English)
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