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A trigraph (from the Greek: τρεῖς, treîs, "three" and γράφω, gráphō, "write") is a group of three letters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined. For example, in the word schilling, the trigraph sch represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/, rather than the consonant cluster */skh/. In the word beautiful, the sequence eau is pronounced /juː/, and in the French word château it is pronounced /o/. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a sequence of letters in English is a trigraph, because of the complicating role of silent letters. There are few productive trigraphs in English; one is tch as in watch.

The trigraph sch is German, where it is equivalent to the English sh; like English sh, it is not regarded as an independent letter of the alphabet. In Hungarian, the trigraph dzs is treated as a distinct letter, with its own place in the alphabet. It is prononounced like an English "j" /dʒ/. The combination gli in Italian can also be a trigraph, representing the palatal lateral approximant /ʎ/ before vowels other than i.

Although trigraphs are not uncommon in adaptations of the Latin alphabet, they are rare elsewhere. There are several in the the Cyrillic alphabet, which for example uses five trigraphs and a tetragraph when writing the Kabardian language: гъу /ʁʷ/, кӀу /kʷʼ/, къу /qʷʼ/, кхъ /q/, хъу /χʷ/, and кхъу /qʷ/. While most of these can be thought of as consonant + /w/, the letters in кхъ /q/ cannot be so separated: the х has the negative meaning that кхъ is not ejective, as къ is /qʼ/. (See List of Cyrillic digraphs.)

Hangul has a single obsolete trigraph, ㅹ *[v̥], a theoretical form not actually found in any texts, which is the digraph ㅃ *[b̥] plus a bottom circle used to derive the labio-dental series of consonants.

Ily.jpg

American Sign Language uses a multigraph of the American manual alphabet to sign 'I love you', from the English initialism ILY. It consists of the little finger of the letter I plus the thumb and forefinger of the letter L. It is conceived of as a trigraph of the letters I-L-Y, though the letter Y (little finger and thumb) overlaps with the other two letters.

Japanese kana use trigraphs for Cyō sequences, as in きょう kyou /kjoo/ 'today'; the う is only pronounced /o/ after another /o/.

Contents

List of Latin trigraphs

A great deal of trigraphs are found in Irish orthography.

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A

aai› is used in Dutch to write the sound /aːi̯/.

abh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əu̯/, or in Donegal, /oː/, between broad consonants.

adh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əi̯/, or in Donegal, /eː/, between broad consonants, or an unstressed /ə/ at the end of a word.

aei› is used in Irish to write the sound /eː/ between a broad and a slender consonant.

agh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əi̯/, or in Donegal, /eː/, between broad consonants.

aim› is used in French to write the sound /ɛ̃/ (/ɛm/ before a vowel).

ain› is used in French to write the sound /ɛ̃/ (/ɛn/ before a vowel). It also represents /ɛ̃/ in Tibetan Pinyin, where it is alternately written än.

aío› is used in Irish to write the sound /iː/ between broad consonants.

amh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əu̯/, or in Donegal, /oː/, between broad consonants.

aoi› is used in Irish to write the sound /iː/ between a broad and a slender consonant.

aon› is used in French to write the sound /ɑ̃/ (/ɑn/ before a vowel).

aou› is used in French to write the sound /u/.

aoû› is used in a few words in French to write the sound /u/.

aqh› is used in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the strident vowel /a/. (If this symbol does not display properly, it is an ‹a› with a double tilde ‹≈› underneath.)

aye

B

bhf› is used in Irish, like the digraph bh, to write the sounds /w/ and /vʲ/.

C

ccs› is a long Hungarian ‹cs›, [tːʃ]. It is collated as ‹cs› rather than as ‹c›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹cs› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹cscs›.

c’h› is used in Breton in order to represent the [x] sound (a voiceless velar fricative). It should not be confused with ch, which represents in Breton the [ʃ] sound (a voiceless postalveolar fricative).

chh› is used Quechua and romanizations of Indic languages to write the sound /tʃʰ/.

chj› is used in Corsican to write the sound /tj/.

D

ddh› is used in the Dene Suline language (Chipewyan) for the dental affricate /tθ/.

ddz› is a long Hungarian ‹dz›, [dːz]. It is collated as ‹dz› rather than as ‹d›. It is not used within roots, where ‹dz› may be either long or short; but when an assimilated suffix is added to the stem, it may form the trigraph rather than the regular sequence *‹dzdz›. Examples are eddze, lopóddzon.

dlh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /tˡʰ/.

dsh› is used in to write the foreign sound /dʒ/ in German. A common variant is the tetragraph dsch.

dtc› is used in Naro to write the voiced palatal click /ᶢǂ/.

dzh› is used to write the sound /dʒ/ in English transcriptions of the Russian digraph ‹дж›. In the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the prevoiced affricate /dtsʰ/.

dzv› is used in the Shona language to write the whistled sibilant affricate /dz͎/.

dzs› (See article)

E

eai› is used in Irish to write the sound /a/ between slender consonants.

eái› is used in Irish to write the sound /aː/ between slender consonants.

eau› (see article)

ein› is used in French to write the sound /ɛ̃/ (/ɛn/ before a vowel).

eoi› is used in Irish to write the sound /oː/ between slender consonants.

eqh› is used in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the strident vowel /e/. (If this symbol does not display properly, it is an ‹e› with a double tilde ‹≈› underneath.)

G

geü› is used in French to write the sound /ʒy/ in words such as vergeüre.

ggy› is a long Hungarian ‹gy›, [ɟː]. It is collated as ‹gy› rather than as ‹g›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹gy› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹gygy›.

ghj› is used in Corsican to write the sound /dj/.

ghw› is used in the Dene Suline language (Chipewyan) for a labialized velar/uvular /ʁʷ/. In Canadian Tlingit it represents /qʷ/, which in Alaska is written ‹gw›.

gli› is used in Italian to write the sound /ʎː/ before a vowel other than ‹i›.

gni› is used in French to write the sound /ɲ/ in a few words such as châtaignier /ʃɑtɛɲe/.

guë› and ‹güe› are used in French to write the sound /ɡy/ at the ends of words that end in the feminine suffix -e, such as aiguë "sharp" and ambiguë "ambiguous". In the French spelling reform of 1990, it was recommended that traditional ‹guë› be changed to ‹güe›.

gqh› is used in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the prevoiced affricate /ɢqʰ/.

H

hhw› is used in the Dene Suline language (Chipewyan) for a labialized velar/uvular /χʷ/.

hml› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /m̥ˡ/.

hny› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ɲ̥/.

I

idh› is used in Irish to write an unstressed /iː/ sound at the ends of words.

igh› is used in Irish to write an unstressed /iː/ sound at the ends of words. Igh might also be considered a trigraph for the diphthong /aɪ/ in English. It differs from the vowel letter ‹i› followed by the silent digraph ‹gh› in that the vowel is always "long", as in night /naɪt/ vs. nit /nɪt/, for example.

ign› is used in a few French words to write the sound /ɲ/ such as oignon /ɔɲɔ̃/ "onion" and encoignure "corner". It was eliminated in the French spelling reform of 1990, but continues to be used.

ilh› is used in to write the sound /ʎ/ in Breton.

ill› is used in French to write the sound /j/, as in épouiller /epuje/.

iqh› is used in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the strident vowel /i/. (If this symbol does not display properly, it is an ‹i› with a double tilde ‹≈› underneath.)

iúi› is used in Irish to write the sound /uː/ between slender consonants.

J–L

jyu› is used in Cantonese Jyutping romanization to write the sound /y/ at the beginning of a syllable, as in the name Jyutping itself. Elsewhere, /y/ is written ‹yu›.

khw› is used in the Ossete Latin alphabet to write the sound /kʷʼ/.

khw› is used in Canadian Tlingit to write the sound /qʷʰ/, which in Alaska is written ‹kw›.

kng› is used for /kŋ/ in Arrernte.

lhw› is used for /l̪ʷ/ in Arrernte.

lli› is used in French to write the sound /j/ after /i/ in a few words, such as coquillier.

lly› is a long Hungarian ‹ly›, [jː]. It is collated as ‹ly› rather than as ‹l›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹ly› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹lyly›.

lyw› is used for /ʎʷ/ in Arrernte.

N

nch› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ɲɟʱ/.

ndl› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ndˡ/. In Xhosa is represents /ndɮ/.

ndz› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ndz/.

ng’› is used in the Swahili language to write the sound /ŋ/. Technically, it may be considered a digraph rather than a trigraph, as ‹’› is not a letter of the Swahili alphabet.

ngb› is used in some African orthographies for /ⁿɡ͡b/, a prenasalized ‹gb› /ɡ͡b/.

ngc› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ŋǀʱ/.

ngg› is used to represent the sound /ŋɡ/, as in English finger, in several languages such as Malay that use ‹ng› for /ŋ/, as in English singer.

ngh› is used in Vietnamese for the velar nasal consonant, before the letters ‹e›, ‹i›, and ‹y›. It was previously considered a single letter, but is not currently. In Welsh, it represents a voiceless velar nasal (a ‹c› under the nasal mutation). In Xhosa, ‹ngh› represents a murmured velar nasal.

ngk› is used in Yanyuwa to represent a back velar stop, /ⁿɡ̱ ~ ⁿḵ/.

ngm› is used for a labial-velar nasal /ŋ͡m/.

ngq› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ŋǃʱ/.

ngw› is /ŋʷ/ in the orthographies of several languages.

ngx› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ŋǁʱ/.

nhw› is used for /n̪ʷ/ in Arrernte.

nkc› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ŋ.ǀ/.

nkh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ŋɡʱ/.

nkp› is used in some African orthographies for /ⁿk͡p/, a prenasalized /k͡p/.

nkq› is used in the Xhosa language to write the prenasalized alveolar click /ŋ.ǃ/.

nkx› is used in the Xhosa language to write the prenasalized lateral click /ŋ.ǁ/.

nny› is a long Hungarian ‹ny›, [ɲː]. It is collated as ‹ny› rather than as ‹n›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹ny› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹nyny›.

nph› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /mbʱ/.

npl› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /mbˡ/.

nqh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ɴɢʱ/.

nrh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ɳɖʱ/.

ntc› is used to write the click /ᵑǂ/ in Naro.

nth› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ndʱ/. In the transcription of Australian Aboriginal languages such as Yanyuwa it represents a dental stop, /n̪t̪ ~ n̪d̪/.

ntl› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /ntɬʼ/.

nts› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ɳɖʐ/. In Malagasy, it represents /nts/.

ntx› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /ndz/.

nyh› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /n̤ʲ/.

nyk› is used in Yanyuwa to represent a pre-velar stop, /ⁿɡ̟ ~ ⁿk̟/.

nyw› is used for /ɲʷ/ in Arrernte.

nzv› is used in the Shona language to write the prenasalized whistled sibilant /ndz͎/.

O

obh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əu̯/, or in Donegal, /oː/, between broad consonants.

odh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əu̯/, or in Donegal, /oː/, between broad consonants.

oen› is that represents a Walloon nasal vowel.

ogh› is used in Irish to write the sound /əu̯/, or in Donegal, /oː/, between broad consonants.

oin› is used in French to write the sound /wɛ̃/ (/wɛn/ before a vowel). In Tibetan Pinyin, it represents /ø̃/ and is alternately written ön.

oío› is used in Irish to write the sound /iː/ between broad consonants.

omh› is used in Irish to write the sound /oː/ between broad consonants.

ooi› is used in Dutch to write the sound /oːi̯/.

oqh› is in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the strident vowel /o/. (If this symbol does not display properly, it is an ‹o› with a double tilde ‹≈› underneath.)

ous› is used in English to write the sound /əs/ in a suffix, as in "contiguous".

P–R

plh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /pˡʰ/.

pmw› is used for /pmʷ/ in Arrernte.

qx’› is in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the affricate /qχʼ/.

rlw› is used for /ɭʷ/ in Arrernte.

rnd› is used in Yanyuwa to represent a retroflex stop, /ɳʈ ~ ɳɖ/.

rnw› is used for /ɳʷ/ in Arrernte.

rrh› is used to write the sound /r/ in words of Greek derivation such as diarrhea.

rrw› is used for /rʷ/ in Arrernte.

rtn› is used for /ʈɳ/ in Arrernte.

rtw› is used for /ʈʷ/ in Arrernte.

S

sch› is used in German to represent [ʃ]. It was also used in medieval Polish orthography. In Middle English, ‹sch› was the most common spelling for this sound, replacing earlier ‹sc› of Old English; it was replaced in turn by ‹sh› in Modern English. Most words with ‹sch› in Modern English are based on Latin orthography, where the ‹ch› is /k/. An exception is the word schedule (from the Late Latin schedula) where the pronunciation of ‹sch› is /ʃ/ or /sk/ depending on dialect.

In German, when a ‹t› is added in front of it, the resulting tetragraph ‹tsch› becomes [tʃ]. Similarly, German adds a ‹d› for a tetragraph ‹dsch› in loanwords, to denote the sound [dʒ], as in the word Dschungel (jungle). An orthographic ‹sch› also occurs in Dutch, but as a sequence of ‹s› plus ‹ch›, not as a trigraph. It's pronounced as a cluster, [sx], or often [sk] in West Flemish.
Rheinische Dokumenta is using ‹sch› to denote the sounds [ʃ], [ɕ] and [ʂ]. It uses ‹sch› with an arc below so as to denote [ʒ].

sci› is used in Italian to write the sound /ʃː/ before the non-front vowel letters ‹a›, ‹o›, ‹u›.

sh’› is used in Bolivian dialects of Quechua to write the sound /ʂ/.

skj› is used to represent the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/, in the Norwegian and Faroese languages, as in Norwegian "kanskje" (maybe) and "teskje" (tea spoon), and Faroese "at skjóta" (to shoot) and "skjóra" (magpie). In Swedish, it's one of several spellings for the sje sound /ɧ/, though only used in five words.

ssi› is used in English to write the sound /ʃ/ in words such as mission.

sth› is found in words of Greek origin. In French, it is pronounced /s/ before a consonant, as in isthme and asthme; in Englsh, it is pronounced /s/ in the first word (isthmus) and /z/ in the second (asthma).

stj› is used in five words in Swedish to write the sje sound /ɧ/, can also represent the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ or the consonant cluster /stʲ/ in Norwegian depending on dialect.

ssz› is a long Hungarian ‹sz›, [sː]. It is collated as ‹sz› rather than as ‹s›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹sz› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹szsz›.

T

tcg› is used to write the click /ǂχ/ in Naro.

tch› is used to write the click /ǂʰ/ in Naro, the affricate /tʃʰ/ in Sandawe, and the affricate /tʃ/ in French. In English it is a variant of the digraph ‹ch›, used in situations similar to those that trigger the digraph ‹ck› for ‹k›.

thn› and ‹tnh› are used for /n̪/ in Arrernte.

ths› is used in Xhosa to write the sound /tsʰ/. It is often replaced with the ambiguous trigraph ‹tsh›.

thw› is used for /t̪ʷ/ in Arrernte.

tlh› is used to write the sound /tɬʰ/ in languages such as Tswana.

tnh› and ‹thn› are used for /n̪/ in Arrernte.

tnw› is used for /tnʷ/ in Arrernte.

tny› is used for /cɲ/ in Arrernte.

tsg› is used to write the sound /tsχ/ in Naro.

tsh› is in various languages. In the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, it represents the sound /tʂʰ/. In Xhosa, it may be used to write /tsʰ/, /tʃʼ/, or /tʃʰ/, though it is sometimes limited to /tʃʼ/, with /tsʰ/ and /tʃʰ/ distinguished as ‹ths› and ‹thsh›.

tsj› is used in Dutch to write the sound /tʃ/.

tsv› is used in the Shona language to write the whistled sibilant affricate /ts͎/.

tsz› is used in Cantonese romanization to write the syllable /zi/.

tth is used in the Dene Suline language (Chipewyan) for dental affricate /tθʰ/.

tty› is a long Hungarian ‹ty›, [cː]. It is collated as ‹ty› rather than as ‹t›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹ty› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹tyty›.

txh› is used in the Romanized Popular Alphabet used to write Hmong, where it represents the sound /tsʰ/.

tyh› is used in the Xhosa language to write the sound /tʲʰ/.

tyw› is used for /cʷ/ in Arrernte.

U

uío› is used in Irish to write the sound /iː/ between broad consonants.

uqh› is used in the practical orthography of the Taa language, where it represents the strident vowel /u/. (If this symbol does not display properly, it is an ‹u› with a double tilde ‹≈› underneath.)

urr› is used in Central Alaskan Yup'ik to write the sound /χʷ/.

X–Z

xhw› is used in Canadian Tlingit to write the sound /χʷ/, which in Alaska is written ‹xw›.

zzs› is a long Hungarian ‹zs›, [ʒː]. It is collated as ‹zs› rather than as ‹z›. It is only used within roots; when two ‹zs› are brought together in a compound word, they form the regular sequence ‹zszs›.

other

ŋgb› (capital ‹Ŋgb›) is used in Kabiye to write [ŋ͡mɡ͡b], a pre-nasalized ‹gb›.

See also

References


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