I chose not to use semi-consonants like j and w in the symbols for
diphthongs, but i and u instead. A true diphthong is not two distinct
vowels, but is a single vowel, the timbre of which varies in time,
from one timbre to the other. The two symbols are used to indicate
the starting point and the end point. The end point is often not fixed,
but rather indicates the direction of sound change. Whether or not
this end point is actually reached depends on the speed of talking,
and on adjoinings sounds, but in many languages doesn't make any
difference for the identity of the diphthong phoneme.
So the difference between j and i as the second element of a rising diphthong could be, at best, that if it's j the second element may be less prominent than the first, because a j is supposed to be shorter than an i. But in a speech sound with a continuously varying timbre, without any abrupt changes, this is hard to determine.
So although I transcribe "Coimbra" as /kwi~br3/, I wouldn't object to /kui~br3/ or /kuj~br3/. Likewise, where I transcribe /3~u~/ or /3i/, I would also accept /3~w~/ or /3j/.
On second thoughts (June 2001), I think the [ui] in Coimbra is not a true
diphthong, because the [u] and [i] belong to separate syllables, and
the i~ is stressed: /ku"i~br3/. True diphthongs also occur, as in "fui"
and "contribuiu" /ko~tribu"iu/.
This is one more argument against my
as a separate phoneme: the second phoneme in Coimbra is more likely
to be an unstressed
which regularly sounds as a short
There is also a distinction between  and [i] forming a true diphthong, and those two vowels in separate syllables: Confer venho ©, tenho ©, tenha /t"3iJ3/ with rainha © /R\3"iJ3/. I could therefore have transcribed /t"3jJ3/ for /t"3iJ3/, but I don't.
Other such words are bainha, ainda, tainha, campainha, ladainha.
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Linguas de correspondentia:
nl, ia, en, de, pt