The development of a vocalic offglide after a vowel in certain environments. There are various forms of breaking:

  • Pre-L breaking: vowels before ɫ have a ə offglide in many accents of English. Example: feel fiəɫ
  • Pre-R breaking: the development of a ə offglide before /r/. It is this phenomenon which is responsible for the appearance of centring diphthongs in many English accents. For example, fear has developed from fiɹ to fɪə by a process of pre-R breaking and subsequent loss of /r/.
  • Southern breaking: occurs in Southern accents of USA English. Short vowels, especially before labial consonants, have a ə offglide. Examples: lip lɪəp], graph græəf. Before ʃ ʒ g ŋ, the offglide usually has a ɪ quality. Examples: bush bʊɪʃ, egg eɪɡ.