Disagreements Syllables

Author: Georald Camposano | December 7th, 2020

But when it comes to learning another language, the syllable can be a very useful idea. There are entire methods of learning languages based on the idea that “words are imaginary” while “syllables are real.” The constitution of language as a syllable can certainly help the learner to grasp the phonetics of a foreign language. If you focus on sounds, you can see the spelling of a word. There are other approaches to syllable in phonetics. But these problems are real and only become more amazing as you take a closer look at them. It is a little easier for phonologists, because phonology tells us that there are rules governing how syllables behave. It is difficult for a phonologist to respect rules about how the sound works in syllables without a good phonetic definition of what they are at all, but not impossible. Peter Ladefoged writes in A Course in Phonetics: “Although almost anyone can identify the syllable, almost no one can define them.” Phonetics is the kind of linguistics that studies the sound of human language. According to Ladefoged, it is “strangely difficult” for experts to find “an objective phonetic method for locating the number of syllables in a word or expression in any language.” Phonologists, who study how sounds are organized in language, have also attacked the problem of syllable. These two types of linguists have slightly different goals.

Phonetics wants to describe exactly what happens in your speech organs when a syllable arrives. The phonologist wants to develop a formal and solid definition of what the syllable is part of the language. Nevertheless, the speakers seem to have clear intuitions about the number of silbes in these consonant strings and the location of the syllable “nuclei”: as Ladefoged points out, English speakers (and loquaters of other languages) generally agree on the number of syllables in one word. Some problematic cases: How many syllables are in your name? You probably already know the top of your head, but count them anyway. I`ve got six. Most of us do the same thing when we count. The variation in syllable counting between humans is not always random: people pay attention to different things when analyzing words. Ladefoged cites the example of the meteor and notes that it will be “two syllables for some people, but three syllables for those who think it is the same strain as the tribe in “meteoric.” In English, z.B. the sound is prolonged when it is in a syllable that ends with a vocal stop (consonants like `b` and `from where the vocal cords vibrate, unlike non-vocal stops like `p` or `t`).

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