back to course outline

A note on American phonology   

Now we've looked at diphthongs, and briefly discussed the difference between phonetics and phonology, we may be able to clear up a problem which sometimes bothers people about the difference between the British and the American definition of diphthongs.

In my course, there are 5 rising diphthongs:

American phonologists, however, often class FACE and GOAT
as tense monophthongs, and write them and .

This means that they write the lax DRESS vowel as

 Phoneme   British   American
This is because there are variations in the pronunciation of GOAT and FACE. In many American accents (but by no means all), and in some British accents, especially Scots English, GOAT and FACE are monophthongs.

But since we are dealing mainly with PHONEMES in this course, we will always write them the same way. I shall use Wells's symbols, the British ones above. But remember that a symbol for a PHONEME does not tell you how that phoneme is pronounced, unless you know the PHONOLOGY of that particular accent

back to course outline back to Phonetics back to Pétur Knútsson's home page
If you have any questions mail me at