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    #1

    Division of multisyllabic words: syllabification.

    Dear teachers and members:


    Though prefixes and suffixes are grammatical units which keep their syntactical strutures in the syllable-splitting process, I consider myself the division of words into syllables in English a phonological phenomenon rather than an orthographical one.

    According to what I have learned about the division of words into syllables, of all of the syllable-splitting rules one of the two basic ones are:

    1) A word whose first syllable contains a short vowel in it ─ a closed syllable ─, this syllable must end with a consonant sound. It seems to me that the phonological aspect is the one which governs this rule; a vowel is short or long in sound, not because of its spelling:

    Cabin /ˈkębɪn/ is split as «cab-in»; Happen /ˈhępən/ is split as «hap-pen»; Basket /ˈbęskɪt, ˈbɑskɪt/ is split as «bas-ket»

    2) A word cannot end with a short syllable sound or a closed syllable; another phonological rule.

    Easy /ˈizi/; Necessary /ˈnɛsəˌsɛri/; Purgatory /ˈpɜrgəˌtɔri/; Activity /ękˈtɪvɪti/


    I also want to focus in another important rule which states the following:

    3) A word must be divided before the consonant prior to the diagraph LE, except in CKLE; the exception to this rule seems to be somewhat that of a spelling rule.

    Table /ˈteɪbəl/ «ta-ble»; Middle /ˈmɪdəl/ «mid-dle»; Wrestle /ˈrɛsəl/ «wres-tle»; Tickle /ˈtɪkəl/ «tick-le»; Buckle /ˈbʌkəl/ «buck-le»


    OBSERVATIONS.

    I found the following words divided as follows:

    a) SYMBOLIC /sɪmˈbɒlɪk/ was divided up into «sym-bol-ic»

    The first and second syllable are short, ─ the rule makes emphasis on the first syllable only ─, and the last one (IC) seems to be a suffix, but may not be; I'm not pretty sure.

    b) EMIGRATE
    /ˈɛmɪˌgreɪt/ was divide up into «em-i-grate»

    The first and the second syllable are short, but the second one was separated alone; I'm confused whether it is in accordance to the rule or not.

    c) DECEASED
    /dɪˈsist/ was divide up into «de-ceased»

    In this case DE is a prefix which keeps its morpheme.

    d) IMMIGRANT /ˈɪmɪgrənt/ was divide up into «im-mi-grant»

    IM is a prefix, but ANT is a suffix in this word which was integrated to the preceding consonants cluster GR, thus forming the letters GRANT which may be a linking of sounds that become into a one syllable.

    e) COUPLE /ˈkʌpəl / was divided up into «cou-ple»

    This case ─ as in DOUBLE too ─, only obeys one rule; the LE rule. The rule about the first closed syllable ─ a syllable with a short vowel in it at the beginning of a word ─ was not considered.



    QUESTION:

    It is possible to choose between two syllable-splitting rules for the one someone considers to be the appropriate one? I have learned that when we have twos evils is better to decide for the lesser one.


    I ask for your help and assistance in this matter.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 16-Jul-2014 at 17:09. Reason: Misspelling and add something else

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    #2

    Re: Division of multisyllabic words: syllabification.

    Hello the apprentice,

    The syllabication rules you listed sound a bit strange to me, and I think the most widely accepted rules (the maximal onset principle with phonotactic constraints) can clear up most of your confusion on this matter.

    The maximal onset principle says that any consonants between two syllables should be the first part of the second syllable; in other words, the onset of the second syllable should be maximized. But many experts say that it needs some exceptions in order to make the structures of syllables more phonotactically natural.

    For instance, the maximal onset principle divides the word “symbolic” as /sɪ.ˈmbɒ.lɪk/, but no English word starts with /mb/ or ends with /ɒ/, so the second syllable /ˈmbɒ/ can be said to be phonotactically unacceptable. To avoid this inconsistency, we need to put /m/ and /l/ into the first and second syllables respectively. Therefore, /sɪm.ˈbɒl.ɪk/ is the answer.

    Then let’s look at “emigrate.” The maximal onset principle (MOP) gives us /ˈɛ.mɪ.greɪt/, but just like /ɒ/, no English word ends with /ɛ/, so it cannot be the end of a stressed syllable. (The same thing applies to /ɪ, ę, ʌ, ʊ/ in a stressed syllable, but note that reduced vowels like /ə/ or /ɪ/ in an unstressed syllable can be the end of a syllable.) And many English words (green, great, groom, and so on) start with /gr/, so it's phonotactically OK. Therefore, we’ve got /ˈɛm.ɪ.greɪt/.

    Deceased: MOP → /dɪ.ˈsiːst/ There is no phonotactical inconsistency, so that’s it.
    Immigrant: MOP → /ˈɪ.mɪ.grənt/ But a stressed syllable cannot end with /ɪ/. → /ˈɪm.ɪ.grənt/
    Couple: MOP → /ˈkʌ.pəl/ But a stressed syllable cannot end with /ʌ/. → /ˈkʌp.əl/

    Of course, this syllabication method isn’t perfect, but in most cases, just by following these rules (the maximal onset principle and then the phonotactic principle), you can divide English words into syllables properly.

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    #3

    Re: Division of multisyllabic words: syllabification.

    Thank you N Senbei for your feedbacks.

    So now I understand that in the number (1) I mentioned above, the rule applies to the first stressed closed syllable, not only to the first one.


    Regarding the LE rule, I have read that in this case the syllabic LE must be acompanied by its preceding consonant, but I'm just clearly that the first stressed closed syllable must always be followed by the next consonant. As I said in the thread above: «I have learned that when we have twos evils is better to decide for the lesser one»; maybe this happens in the case of COUPLE.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 22-Jul-2014 at 17:22.

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    #4

    Re: Division of multisyllabic words: syllabification.

    Hello the apprentice,

    I’m sorry, but I don’t really understand your rules. I think you are mixing up phonological syllabication rules with something like orthographical hyphenation rules (your LE rule is most likely one of the latter). And your usage of the term “closed syllable” is quite different from the typical usage in textbooks on phonetics and phonology. A closed syllable is a syllable which has one or more consonants at the end (for example, /bɪt/, /hiːp/, /nɛkst/, /keɪs/, etc.). As you can see, the vowel in a closed syllable can be either short, long, or diphthongal. It is not limited to a short vowel. I’m not sure, but some “phonics” (not “phonetics”) books may define “closed syllable” as something close to your usage.
    Quote Originally Posted by The apprentice View Post
    So now I understand that in the number (1) I mentioned above, the rule applies to the first stressed closed syllable, not only to the first one.
    The short strong vowels /ɪ, ɛ, ę, ʌ, ɒ, ʊ/ rule I mentioned applies not only to the “first” syllable but to all syllables. And it is very difficult to say whether this rule is applicable only to “stressed” syllables or not, because different dictionaries have different opinions on this, and to make matters more complicated, not all phonologists agree on how to draw a line between “stressed syllables” and “unstressed syllables.” When one of the short strong vowels /ɪ, ɛ, ę, ʌ, ɒ, ʊ/ occur in a syllable without primary or secondary stress, some phonologists say that syllable bears “tertiary stress,” so you can actually say that every syllable with a short strong vowel is stressed. But not all phonologists use the term “tertiary stress”, so you can also say that short strong vowels occur not only in primary or secondary stressed syllables but also in unstressed syllables. So there is no clear-cut answer to this. If my previous post caused any confusion, I apologize to you for my inadequate explanation.

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