What does diphthong mean


The diphthong, also Zwielaut and Zweilaut, is a double sound made up of two consecutive vowels that are different. That means the two vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are connected when speaking and are not spoken separately from one another. In German, these combinations are particularly common: ouch, egg, ai, eu, uh and ui. The diphtongs egg / ai as eu / uh are loudly the same.

Term & example

The technical term can be derived from the Greek (δίφθογγος) and is made up of the words dis and phthóngos together. These can be used with two and According to translate. Thus the diphthong is a two-tone. The translation makes it clear what it is basically about: namely a sound that is formed from two vowels [and consists of one syllable, that is, is inseparable]. Let's look at an example.

Pooh! The fire burned my corn on the cob.

In the example above, the individual diphtongs have been highlighted in color. Connections are coming ui, eu and ai for use. It is crucial that the connection of the vowels are connected when speaking, as they are not separated by the syllables of the words. The hyphenation looks like this.

Pfui | F.euhe | M.aipiston

It can be seen here that Pooh consists of one syllable and has the diphthong in the middle, whereas Fire is formed from two syllables, with the diphtong in the first syllable, with the Corn on the cob has three syllables. In this case, too, the double sound is in the first syllable.

This observation is crucial. If two vowels follow each other that are not connected to each other aloud and are thus separated from each other by the syllables of a word, one speaks of a hiatus. The hiatus is the meeting of the final vowel of a word with the beginning vowel of the following, as well as the successive sequence of two vowels or diphthongs within the word.

Note: A diphthong is always a combination of two vowels that are spoken together. If two vowels that belong to different syllables follow one another, one speaks of a hiatus. German has four diphtongs in different spellings: / ʊɪ̯ / (ui), / ɔʏ̯ / (eu, äu), / aɪ̯ / (ai, ei), / aʊ̯ / (au). In dialects, however, other connections are conceivable (Ex .: oi, oa, etc. etc.).

Diphthong, hiatus and ie

It was described what the twilight is all about and how it can be distinguished from the hiatus. This fact will be explained in more detail below. Furthermore, the special position of the digraph ie entered, which on closer inspection is not a diphthong.

A hiatus is the success of two vowels that do not belong to the same syllable of a word. These can either be at the end of one word and be the first letter of the next, or they can follow one another within the word. Let's look at an example of this.

Our filling only contains fresh milk.

The above example illustrates the possible positions of a hiatus. The words our and Bottling stand side by side. The first word ends with the vowel e, the next with one a begins. Thus the letters do not merge into one sound, which is why we are dealing with a hiatus. The same goes for the sequence of e and i in includes. These are also spoken separately.

You're a rotten drover!

The example sentence includes the sequence of e and i(egg) as well as from i and e(ie). A diphthong is ei, because the connection of the two vowels creates a new sound that cannot be separated. At ie However, it is different. In the words lousier and cattle namely, no double sound is created from two vowels, only that i stretched (longer spoken). That can be considered a monophthong.

But then it gets tricky if in a word that ie is broken up by hyphenation. Then the combination does not serve to stretch the letter i, but is also to be assessed as a hiatus. An example of this is the Career. It is separated as follows: Kar | ri | e | re.

Overview: The most important things about the diphthong at a glance
  • A so-called double sound is called a diphthong. This means that two vowels that do not appear separated by syllables are spoken together and thus form a new sound. In German we know / ʊɪ̯ / (ui), / ɔʏ̯ / (eu, äu), / aɪ̯ / (ai, ei), / aʊ̯ / (au).
  • In dialects and other languages, almost all combinations are of course conceivable. Basically, if two vowels together result in a new sound, this is called a diphthong. It doesn't matter which vowels are combined.
  • Nevertheless, we have to distinguish the whole thing from the hiatus and monophthong. In the first-mentioned term, vowels follow one another, but do not form a new sound together. The monophthong describes a simple sound, i.e. all vowels and connections that are only used for stretching (ie). So the quality of the vowel does not change here.