an seanduine wrote:An example in French might be the [/i]eau[/i] sound.
I must disagree, here. "Eau" forms a trigraph, but not a triphthong, for it is pronounced "O". Since we are airing out our phthongs, the O sound is a monophthong. "Aim" is another good example: its A and I constitute a digraph, but its sound
is a monophthong. Conversely, the I in "ice" realizes as a diphthong.
benhall.1 wrote:I think this is another difference between usage in the US and usage in the UK. I've only ever heard Americans call those things "ligatures". In the UK, it's a diphthong.
I'm sure that this error is found leftwards of the Pond, too; on the extremely rare occasion that my fellow Yanks and I would ever bring it up in casual conversation - I can't say that we even have, to adult memory (so I'm unwilling to take at face value your suggestion that "ligature", as an orthographic term, is particularly American) - you can take it to the bank that I would be just as hair-splitting and taxingly pedantic among them, too. And I'm quite certain they would be just as unwilling to accept it, and wearily accuse me in turn of being an Anglophile. Or worse.
Normally I'm fine with the idea that usage determines meaning, but this isn't one of those cases. I have to call for better rigor in this one. People can call digraphs and ligatures "diphthongs" if they like, and I can't force them to change this, but I will have my say, because without digging deeper one can't really know what's meant when technical terms are used so loosely (if, that is, one can tell that wires got crossed - if not, at best you have a comedy of errors).
OTOH it fuels conversation, so I suppose it's all good. Either way I have provided a service, so you're welcome.