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edited December 2013 in Writing
Has the word 'coin' got one syllable or two?

This is a haiku question.


  • One. The oi sound is single.

    When children learn phonics, they understand that this pair of vowels is pronounced as one smooth sound, unlike 'iambic', where the i and a are pronounced separately and would therefore make more syllables.
  • To me, the oi is a diphthong, so I'd say it's a single syllable, but in some accents and pronunciations it becomes almost coy-yen. I think judges ought to have a bit of leniency here for either sound, but I'd still lean towards one.
  • [quote=Lizy]Is the word 'coin' one syllable or two?

    This is a haiku question.[/quote]

    One tempting syllable over, so I turned your question into a haiku too. (I know it's not really!)
  • [quote=Webbo]To me, the oi is a diphthong[/quote]

    That was what I was about to say, then I checked the meaning. It's actually a monophthong, I believe:

    A diphthong ([1] Greek: {I had to remove a bit of Greek lettering!} diphthongos, literally "two sounds" or "two tones"), also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel. For most dialects of English, the phrase "no highway cowboys" contains five distinct diphthongs.

    Diphthongs contrast with monophthongs, where the tongue doesn't move and only one vowel sound is heard in a syllable.
  • Thanks for the correction - fabulous! So it becomes a diphthong only in those accents who do the "coy-yen" thing
  • Yep, it seems that way!

    I'd say those hailing from Newcastle would use a fair few of them...
  • Real haiku have as few syllables as possible. So fewer than 5-7-5 and the best are 12 syllables. So syllables aren't as much of a trip-up as you think unless you can't be succinct.
  • edited December 2013
    Sorry to say but Webbo was right. Coin has a diphthong vowel sound, whichever accent it's in. A monophthong would be in something like ship, con, hip, etc. Listen to the change of sound and feel the movement of your tongue.

    I won't get my kazoo now, will I? :(

    Edit: at least I can't think of any instance of coin being pronounced as a monophthong, otherwise it would sound like either con or kin.
  • edited December 2013
    So the consensus is that we're not sure, in true TB tradition.

    Coy-in or coyn - that is the question.

    I am aiming for a 17-syllable haiku.

    ps: I like the haiku Webbo, very clever.
  • [quote=Tiny Nell]only one vowel sound is heard in a syllable.[/quote]

    Actually I can hear four vowel sounds in a syllable :)
  • edited December 2013
    [quote=Lizy]So the consensus is that we're not sure, in true TB tradition.[/quote]
    We're fairly unanimous on a single syllable, aren't we, regardless of the tangential issue of the nature of the vowel?

    [quote=Tristram_Shandy]Listen to the change of sound and feel the movement of your tongue.
    To be honest, I think I must be impaired in this area somehow - I couldn't really feel the difference in my tongue movement that much in Nell's "cowboy" example either - which must be why I talk funny. And why I really shouldn't have studied languages as much as I did!
  • As I say 'cow' my tongue curls up at the sides and as I say 'boy' it uncurls.
  • If it were two syllables it would be as in 'coincidence', which it is in some parts of the country. So local variations are permitted. Unhelpfully the OED doesn't give the phonetic spelling for either coin or coil.
  • Found these: http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/coin_2
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