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how syllables are separated and pronounced

 
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kiet



Joined: 30 Dec 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:42 am    Post subject: how syllables are separated and pronounced Reply with quote

Hello everyone,
Well, I am currently learning about the pronunciation of english words by looking them up in the dictionary. The thing that still confuse me is that how to separate the syllables in a word. For example, 'temperature' do you pronounce it as tem-puh-ruh-chuh or tem-puhr-uh-chuh. 'January' do you pronounce it as Jan-u-eh-re or Jan-nu-eh-re. Thanks for your help.
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emile



Joined: 31 May 2004
Posts: 144
Location: SE Asia

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The dictionary acts as a guide, but you can only get the real pronunciation by listening to speakers. I suggest you try www.m-w.com, the Marriam Webster dictionary that has the pronunciation for each word.

Also, both the words that you mentioned could be pronounced with only three syllables in actual spoken English: temp-ra-ture, jan-u-ry








my site: www.roadtogrammar.com
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CEJ



Joined: 23 Dec 2005
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's easy to count the syllables in a word (with pretty good consistency across speakers even), but it's not so easy to know where the actual breaks are--that is, where one syllable's coda finishes and the next one's onset begins.

First, there is the breaking up of words for typing, which is not the same thing as speech syllables.

Second, there are speech syllables. In English it often appears indeterminate, with some sounds seeming to bridge a coda and the next onset. See the last two posts under the adjacent /r/ discussion for some technical details on this.
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Buddhaheart



Joined: 05 Jan 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kiet has touched on a very controversial and challenging aspect of linguistics called phonology. In contemporary linguistics many theories are still being considered, constructed and developed. This is definitely not for beginners of English.

To answer Kiet's query, the first question you have to ask youself is what a syllable is. There are as many theories (Sonority Principle, Chest
Pulse Formation & so on) as questions. It seems there is no one definition that all phoneticians or phonologists could agree on.

The second question is how a multi-syllable word is phonologically divided into its components. Although there're many general rules we teach students how to do that, there're just as many exceptions. Syllabification seems to be a taunting task.

We then have to talk about MOP (Maximal Onsets Theory or Principle). English phonotactics, phonological rules, epenthesis, ambisyllabicity, the concept of the "privilege of occurrence". silent 'e' syllable and so on.

Some of the respondents have offered many practical suggestions and help. I hereby offer mine from my own perspective.

We'll just look at the word "temperature" only as an example. Just by counting the number of vowels or semi-vowels in the word "temperature", we think we have a 5 or less syllabic word. If you recognize the fact that the last 4 letters (ture) in the word make it a WR-ME (Vowel R-Magic- E) syllable type, you know the ‘e’ is silent. We therefore left with 4 syllables.

Invoking a general phonological rule of splitting syllables between 2 consecutive consonants, we arrive at the 1st tentative syllable, namely “tem”. Relying on the MOP, we will pair the 2nd ‘e’ with ‘p’, the ‘a’ with ‘r’ and hence we arrive at “tem-pe-ra-ture”. Using your terminology, we will transcribe the word as “tem-puh-ruh-chuh”. This is your 1st version I think. I'm not sure about the 'u' sound though.

Invoking the concept of the "privilege of occurrence", the vowel letter 'a' in the word can stand alone as a syllable. This syllable is uttered with a schwa sound as it is not stressed. The 2nd syllable becomes 'per' and this does not violate any phonotactics as the 'er' may be pronounced as a rhotic schwa. We now arrive at the word's syllabification as "tem-per-a-ture." This is similar to your 2nd version.

So what is the verdict? I believe both versions are acceptable as they do appear in various dictionaries we use here. I personally favor the 2nd.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1366
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that "tem-puh-ruh-chuh" and "temp-uhr-uh-chuh" would be pronounced the same, regardless of the syllable divisions. That is, (at least in American English, and I realized the example is most likely not American English) a syllable that ends in a consonant connects in speaking to the next vowel. So "tem.puh" and "temp.uh" would most likely wind up the same (although I like the first one better.) That's why "This is an old apartment" sound like "Thi.si.zuh.nol.dapartment."
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Invoking a general phonological rule of splitting syllables between 2 consecutive consonants, we arrive at the 1st tentative syllable, namely “tem”. Relying on the MOP, we will pair the 2nd ‘e’ with ‘p’, the ‘a’ with ‘r’ and hence we arrive at “tem-pe-ra-ture”. Using your terminology, we will transcribe the word as “tem-puh-ruh-chuh”. This is your 1st version I think. I'm not sure about the 'u' sound though.

Invoking the concept of the "privilege of occurrence", the vowel letter 'a' in the word can stand alone as a syllable. This syllable is uttered with a schwa sound as it is not stressed. The 2nd syllable becomes 'per' and this does not violate any phonotactics as the 'er' may be pronounced as a rhotic schwa. We now arrive at the word's syllabification as "tem-per-a-ture." This is similar to your 2nd version.


Really nice, I really like it.

Just one more thing according to Jones's English Pronouncing Dctionary (15t. edition) if the 'er' is not r-coloured then we will have something like this tem-per-ture being, the e not pronounced.

José
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harmony



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 34
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Buddhaheart in that there is no clear agreement as to how words are correctly divided into syllables. Phonologists and linguists have many theories.

One thing I've noticed that does not seem to be mentioned, however, is that the actual pronunciation of many words as they are used in everyday speech differs from what teachers sometimes teach in terms of syllables. In American English, for instance, most people would pronounce temperature as tem-pre-ture with only three syllables as opposed to tem-per-ah-ture with four (I and most Americans I know certainly pronounce it this way). If you are American, listen to yourself as you say it naturally and see what I mean. Another example is the word interesting. When teachers teach this word, they tend to break it into a four syllable word (in-ter-est-ing), however, more typically it is actually pronounced in-tres-ting with only three syllables in everyday speech. Because of this, I try to let my students know when words that appear to have more vowel sounds in their spellings have sounds that are not usually pronounced. Sometimes, however, it easier for students to begin with pronunciation that more approximates the spelling as it helps in bulding reading confidence.
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harmony



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 34
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops. Guess I didn't read closely enough! Jose just said this. Embarassed
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