Features of Syllable Formation in English

3404 Words May 22nd, 2013 14 Pages

1. The syllable as an integral part of the word. Definition of the syllable
2. Main features of syllable formation in English
3. Theories of syllable formation and division


The syllable is a primary basic unit of speech. Being joined with each other, speech sounds serve as structural material, as “bricks” for syllables. A syllable is a sequence of speech sounds joined together to form a solid undividable stable primary speech unit of segmental level.
The central part of a syllable is a pitch or syllabic sound. Pitch sounds are syllable-forming sounds.
The vowel is the main syllable-forming element, but in some languages under some conditions sonorants may also become
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The definition of the syllable from the functional point of view tends to single out the following features of the syllable:
a) a syllable is a chain of phonemes of varying length;
b) a syllable is constructed on the basis of contrast of its constituents (which is usually of vowel - consonant type);
c) the nucleus of a syllable is a vowel, the presence of consonants is optional; there are no languages in which vowels are not used as syllable nuclei, however, there are languages in which this function is performed by consonants;
d) the distribution of phonemes in the syllabic structure follows by the rules which are specific enough for a particular language.

2. Main features of syllable formation in English

The most prominent sound being the peak or the nucleus of a syllable is called syllabic. Syllabic sounds are generally vowels and sonorants. The latter become syllabic when joined to a preceding consonant. The sonorants [w, j, r] are not syllabic. A word consisting of only one vowel sound represents a separate syllable, e.g. I [ai]. In case of a diphthong the peak of a syllable is formed by its nucleus. e.g. place [pleis].
Many words in English such as parcel, level, special, person and the like could be pronounced with the neutral vowel before the sonorant, thus making it non-syllabic. In all these words the second prominent sound or the peak is formed by