I added diphthongs like and ɪə to Wikidata. I added them to groups of whether they are closing or centering.

I would also like to add them to group based on whether they are wide or narrow as I read that this is an additional property in which they differ. I however can't find a good list that defines which diphthongs are wide and which are narrow. Can someone point me to a good resource or give himself a list?

  • 3
    Where are you getting the wide/narrow terminology? This is not standard phonetic terminology AFAIK.
    – TKR
    May 30, 2016 at 23:27
  • @TKR : Wikipedia for example lists 4 distinctions for diphthongs: Rising and Falling, Closing, Opening and Centering, wide and narrow and length.
    – Christian
    May 31, 2016 at 13:54
  • 2
    Hmm. Seems like this isn't a binary distinction but a matter of degree, if it's defined as "how far in the vowel space the end point is from the start point".
    – TKR
    May 31, 2016 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


First of all, a caveat: I'd never heard the terms "wide" and "narrow" applied to diphthongs before this question, and after some searching still haven't seen them anywhere except Wikipedia's "Diphthong" article. So I wouldn't say they're particularly standard or widespread.

But, using Wikipedia's definition, if you plot the start and end of the diphthong on an F1/F2 vowel chart (like the IPA one), the "width" is the distance between them.

Using this definition, /aj/ and /aw/ are "wide", while /ej/ and /ow/ are "narrow". The centering diphthongs you get in non-rhotic dialects are somewhere in the middle.

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