A diphthong is two vowel sounds together. That means your mouth has to move: there is a beginning and an ending position. Study this diphthong with illustrations and up close, slow motion speech.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to learn how to pronounce the OH as in NO diphthong.
Diphthongs are a combination of two sounds. They have a starting position and an ending position.
The jaw drops for the beginning position, tongue shifts back a little bit.
The lips may start relaxed, or may start rounding right from the beginning. After dropping the jaw, immediately start moving into the ending position: the lips round, and the back part of the tongue stretches up. Focus on the movement of the jaw and the lip rounding.
Let’s see this sound up close and in slow motion. Jaw drop for the first position, and rounded lips for the second.
The word ‘slow’. Notice how the lips are not relaxed in the first position of this diphthong, with the jaw drop.
They’re flared, which does not affect the sound, as they prepare to round for the ending position. Rounded lips.
In a stressed syllable, the OH diphthong curves up then down. Slow, oh. In an unstressed syllable, it’s lower and flatter in pitch, as well as quieter and quicker, oh. The diphthong is unstressed in the word ‘okay’, oh. Let’s take a look at the word ‘okay’.
The jaw drops, but not quite as much as it did on the stressed syllable of ‘slow’.
The lips begin to round for the transition into the ending position. The lips round, but not quite as much as for the stressed OH in ‘slow’.
Here we compare the first position of the stressed OH on top with the unstressed version on the bottom. Less jaw drop for the unstressed version.
And here, the second position. You can see that for the stressed OH, on top, the lips round more than they do in the unstressed version.
Generally, the unstressed version of a Vowel or diphthong is more relaxed and often doesn’t take the full mouth position, in this case, less jaw drop and less lip rounding. This is because we don’t take as much time for unstressed syllables, they’re shorter, so we simplify the mouth movements.
The OH diphthong, stressed: slow, OH
Unstressed: okay, oh
OH, oh, OH, oh.
Example words. Repeat with me: