Modern Greek Phonology - Vowels - Diphthongs

Diphthongs

Modern Greek does not have distinctive diphthong phonemes; however, certain groups of vowels can be optionally treated as either two syllables or a single diphthongal syllable. Diphthong pronunciation is most common for /a.i/ and /o.i/ in words like πλάι (pláï, aside, beside) or μοιρολόι (mirolóï, dirge). Diphthongs are more commonly found in loanwords; for example a word for cake κέικ (kéïk) has an /ei/ diphthong. This same diphthong also occurs in a native Greek word, λέει (léï, s/he says), where the two vowels were formerly separated by the consonant γ (g).

Although written with a sequence of vowels, ⟨ευ⟩ represents /ev/, a vowel and a consonant (the /v/ is devoiced to when another voiceless consonant follows.) Similarly, ⟨αυ⟩ represents /av/ (or /af/ in front of a voiceless consonant). The much rarer ⟨ηυ⟩ represents /iv/ (or /if/).

Read more about this topic:  Modern Greek Phonology, Vowels

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