Glacial landscape feature
A drumlin is a north-south ridge of gravel, the shape of a beached whale.

D is for digraph

 

You can guess at the meaning of digraph because di— means “two” and —graph means “something written.” A digraph is two letters that have one sound. In older forms of English, the two letters might be run together, such as ae (æ). In vowel digraphs, the second letter is usually silent. English dialects introduce some variation in pronunciation.

 

Note: Digraphs are letters.

 

ch         chew

ck        check

dg        judge

ng         doing

sh         shout

th         that, think

ph        pheasant

wh        what, when, where, who

 

ae         archaeology [formerly, archæology]

ai          maid, maintain

au         audit

ay         day, tray

ea         bean, eat, teach

ee         fleece, sweet

ei          eight, receive

ey         key

ie          die

oa        boat, coast

oe        potatoes

oo        book, look

ow       slow

ue         true

D is for diphthong

 

Diphthong also begins with di— for “two”, but the second part of the word is derived from a difficult Greek word, phthong, meaning “sound” but also related to “tongue”.

 

A diphthong is (1) two vowels that act together to create a sliding sound within a syllable (the letters Y and W often act as vowels in this instance). It is also (2) two sounds that slide within one vowel (not a digraph). English dialects introduce some variation in pronunciation.

 

Note: Diphthongs are sounds.

 

a          rate, table

ai          fail, rain

au         daughter, haul

aw        draw, hawk

ea         create, eagle, great

ei          height

ew        dew, jewel, new

ey         convey, obey

i           arrive, high, private, sign

ia          dial, trial

ie          science

io         pioneer, riot, violet

o          ago, no, roll

oe        poet

oi         coil, noise, stoic

oo        cool, fool, moon

ou        out, mouse, soul

ow       down, how, know, throwing

oy        boy, oyster, voyage

ua         casual

 

ue         statue

uy         buyer, Gruyère, guy

y          by, hype, sky

yi          flying, trying

Exercises

  1. Try to pronounce the word diphthong. Do you prefer to say “dip-thong” or “diff-thong”?
  2. Sound out words to identify digraphs and diphthongs. Which ones are the most commonly used?

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