"M. Astrand" wrote:
> Are there any natural languages that make the difference, having both /aj/
> and /ai/? Or /aw/ and /au/?

I wouldn't be surprised if there were, but I don't actually know of any
examples.  I suspect that if they do exist, there's some additional
difference, like length (/aj/ being pronounced in the same time as /a/,
/ai/ being pronounced twice as long as /a/).

> I'm asking because I have a problem with my conlang's ortography which I
> haven't been able to solve.
> I have been spelling differently diphthongs in words like _kai_ "winter"
> and _loj_ "finger" although I can't hear any difference between the final
> sounds, and the ortography is supposed to be rabidly phonemic. Every time
> I try to change them either to _kai_ and _loi_ or _kaj_ and _loj_, however,
> the language resists - it says that there's a difference, one's plural should
> be /kai.e/ (or /kaj.e/) and the other's /

Can you hear the difference between those two (/kai.e/ and /  If
so, you could analyze it as being an underlying contrast between /ai/
and /aj/ that's only *phonetically* realized when followed by a vowel,
much like in German between words like /rad/ and /rat/ (I'm not sure if
these are actual words), where they're phonetically both [rat], but when
you add a suffix, like -en, the difference reappears.

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