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A diphthong is a single-syllable vowel sound in which the beginning of the sound is different from the end sound—that is, the sound glides from one vowel sound to another. For this reason, diphthongs are often referred to as gliding vowels.
There are eight vowel sounds in American English that are generally agreed upon as being diphthongs.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the combination of two vowels—a syllabic and a nonsyllabic vowel—in one syllable, for example, the French [oi]. Two types of diphthongs may be distinguished: the rising diphthong, in which the second vowel is the syllable-building element, for example, the French [ie] and [ui] and the falling diphthong, in which the first vowel is the syllable-building element, for example, the English [ai] and [au].

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
3 20 121 tutto suo[??] amor la giu pose[??] a drittura: Together with the sinalefe after io discussed below (example 69), these are the only cases I have found of sinalefe after a monosyllable ending in a falling diphthong, excluding the thirty further cases where I shall argue that Petrocchi's diaeresis followed by sinalefe should be replaced by synaeresis followed by dialefe.
Table 3 (2) (see Appendix) breaks down all occurrences of dialefe according to the initial vowel (or the vowel following an initial h) of the second word in the combination (the 'following vowel'), and gives the corresponding figures for occurrences of sinalefe after those categories of words for which dialefe is the norm ('exceptional' sinalefe as discussed above, after polysyllables with accents on a final vowel or final falling diphthong, or after the monosyllables that normally produce dialefe).
I now turn to the cases where Petrocchi has a diaeresis in a final falling diphthong followed by a sinalefe, and where I believe, in line with the practice of Antonio Lanza's recent re-edition of the Comedy, (23) that it is better to assume synaeresis followed by dialefe.
Falling diphthong (first-vowel syllabic) in a stressed syllable or monosyllable, ending with a dolce semivowel.
With others, the <i> is the syllabic vowel in a falling diphthong. But the important point is that the syllable is unstressed, with correspondingly less stress given to the syllabic vowel than in categories 1 and 2.
A hyphenated falling diphthong (tu-o, for instance) does not constitute a composer's pronouncement on the number of syllables contained in a word.
In other words, semivowels are the off-glide vowels of a falling diphthong, as in 1a and 1b.
In O patria mia, Aida sings "mai piu" without ever having the falling diphthong notated with more than one note.
Falling diphthong / long <a> + semivowel / stressed syllable [a.|u:] paura 3a.
(12.) A parola piana ending in a stressed falling diphthong (cante-rei) is sometimes referred to as semitronca.