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triphthongs (was: Bisyllabic or Disyllabic?)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, August 11, 2000, 6:24
At 6:19 pm +0200 10/8/00, daniel andreasson wrote:
>> > Though I wonder, are there such things as triphthongs? >> >> I know they have them on Gotland, an island off the Swedish eastcoast. >> Can't provide you with any actual examples but it sounds a bit like >> /geaUd/ (to make something up) or something, where all the vowels >> form a single syllable. > >Indeed. Although typologically not as common as V or VV nuclei, >they do show up somewhat frequently. Old French <beau> was >just such a triphthong,
Yep - Old French had quite a few triphthongs.
>and some interpret the combinations in English >words like <fire> as them also. (This last varies by dialect, however.)
It does, and where it occurs it's an odd triphthong - it so it is - in that the vocalic nucleus comes first anf they are, allegedly, two semivocalic codas [aI@] with the [I@] both being semivocalic. I'm inclined myself, however, to regard this a disyllabic when all the sounds are pronounced, ie. [aI-@]. In practice IME in non-rhotic dialects in Britain, it either becomes [a@] or even [A:] or, not infrequently quite clearly disayllabic [aIj@]. But triphthongs occur in Australian English. They occur in Portuguese and, indeed, in many languages tho, as Daniel said, not as widespread as diphthongs. But - I've never seen mention of tetraphthongs. Do they occur in any natlang? Are they indeed even theoretically possible? Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================