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digraph
Definition:

Two successive letters that represent a single sound (or phoneme).

Common vowel digraphs in English include ai (as in rain), ay (day), ea (teach), ea (bread), ea (break), ee (free), ei (eight), ey (key), ie (piece), oa (road), oo (book), oo (room), ow (slow), and ue (true).

Common consonant digraphs in English include ch (as in church), ch (school), ng (king), ph (phone), sh (shoe), th (then), th (think), and wh (wheel).

See also:

Etymology

From the Greek, "twice writing"

Examples and Observations:

  • "What is excluded from the English alphabet are the several highly standardized and frequently used digraphs of English, namely [ch, gh, ph, sh, th] and occasionally [kh] and [wh] which play a very important role in the encoding (writing) and decoding (reading) processes of [the] English language . . ..

    "[F]rom the pedagogical and instructional perspective, the digraphs should be given utmost attention in the teaching of almost all language skills of English because of the proportionally large number of digraphs in relation to the 26 letters; they are approximately one-fourth of the core letters."
    (E. Y. Odisho, Linguistic Tips for Latino Learners and Teachers of English. Gorgias, 2007)


  • "Some sounds can only be represented by digraphs, such as the 'sh' digraph in 'shoot' and the 'ay,' 'ai' and 'a-e' digraphs in 'say,' 'sail' and 'same.' Other sounds are represented in some words by single letters and, usually less frequently in others by digraphs: thus 'fan' and 'phantom' begin with the same phoneme which is written as one letter in the first and as two in the second of these two words. This is a complicated system and probably, to young children at least, it may seem a capricious and unpredictable one as well."
    (T. Nunes and P. Bryant, Children's Reading and Spelling. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
Pronunciation: DI-graf
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