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    #1

    syllable division

    Good morning, Im studying English Literature and Im taking course in Phonetics. My exam on Tuesday and Im not sure that I understand syllable division. Can u help me with that?

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: syllable division

    Okay, the typical English syllable has a consonant sound, a vowel sound and a final consonant sound: CVC. Most languages are CV (consonant vowel). In English, the final consonant sounds are crucial, so they are the basis of the syllable, along with the vowel which is also necessary. So, we cut our words into syllables after a vowel and a consonant. But if there are two consonants, we divide the syllable between them.

    E.g. indicate, to show by pointing a finger, and fabulous, meaning great.

    'in . dic . ate

    'fab . ul. ous (divided after each consonant, unlike French, which does the opposite: fa bu leux)

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    #3

    Re: syllable division

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post

    'in . dic . ate

    'fab . ul. ous
    I'm confused. Wouldn't those words be syllabified as follows?
    in'di'cate
    fa'bu'lous

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: syllable division

    Hmm, maybe. We both have a thought or two that differ from an online dictionary by a little. It seems it is a tricky subject, sometimes counter-intuitive.

    The American Heritage I just verified with has:

    'in.di.cate
    'fab.u.lous

    But the rules I explained are the general rule: though it's counter-intuitive, we usually divide after a consonant, though we pronounce them in units that attach that consonant to the following syllable, it seems.

    'book.ing
    'count.er
    'cour.age
    'gran.u.lar

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    #5

    Re: syllable division

    It is important to distinguish between morphological segmentation and syllabification, the latter belonging to phonology (and I think I mean phonology rather than phonetics).

    As a rule of thumb, if there is a single consonant between vowels, then it is syllabified with the following vowel (this may go against the morphological divisions, as noted in the previous post). If there are two consonants between the vowels, then it depends what they are. If the second consonant is an "l" or "r" (or the semivowels "w" or "y"), then both consonants are taken together and syllabified with the following vowel as above. Otherwise the consonants are divided, and the first one goes with the preceding syllable.

    Examples:

    be-gin
    ma-nner (only one "n" in actual pronunciation of course)
    co-la
    boo-king (though the morpheme boundary would come after the "k")

    ze-bra
    sta-pler

    men-ded
    wes-tern
    col-der

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    #6

    Re: syllable division

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    It is important to distinguish between morphological segmentation and syllabification, the latter belonging to phonology (and I think I mean phonology rather than phonetics).
    I agree. Syllables confuse me too because they don't follow the boundaries of either phonology or morphology. I suppose the concept derived from a different approach to dividing up words.
    One use of syllables was knowing where to divide words when typing, but computerisation does that automatically now. Poets use the idea of syllables for creating rhythm and meter.
    I suspect that syllabification preceded the linguistic division of words in a more scientific sense.

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    #7

    Re: syllable division

    The interesting thing about syllables (for me) is that they don't seem to correspond exactly to any unit in the acoustic signal. For this reason, early generative phonology tried to do without them. But despite this, they were found to play a central role in the linguistic organization of sound patterns, and many processes (phonological as well as poetic) are sensitive to them. As a result, they have once again found an important role in phonology, and it is a bit misleading in this sense to think of them as pre-scientific.

    Example: when is "r" not pronounced in standard British English?

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