Syllable

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Syllable

 

the minimal articulated unit of speech, consisting of one or several sounds that form a compact phonetic entity and that occur during one chest pulse. Proponents of various theories concerning the syllable believe that a syllable is produced by one muscular contraction, by modulation (narrowing and widening) of the pharynx, or by the degree of sonority and the order in which sounds are uttered.

A syllable is composed of a beginning (onset), a peak (nucleus), and a final part (coda). A peak is formed by simple vowels (ma-ma), by sonorants in some languages (Czech prst, “finger”), and occasionally by obstruents (psst!). A syllable’s beginning and end are formed by one or more consonants; in some languages a syllable may consist only of a peak (o-ni, “they”). Syllables are closed when they end in a consonant and open when they end in a vowel. They are uncovered when they begin with a vowel and covered when they begin with a consonant. The commonest syllable structure, found in all languages of the world, is consonant followed by vowel.

Division into syllables often does not correspond to division into morphemes. In the word ruchka (“handle”), morphemes for example, there are two syllables (ru-chka) but three morphemes (ruch-k-a). In syllabic languages, such as Chinese, morphemes are generally monosyllabic and syllable and morpheme boundaries coincide. In such languages, the beginning of a syllable is contrasted to its end, which is limited to certain permissible sounds.

V. A. VINOGRADOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Satariano had seven gay and seven heterosexual males record a list of monosyllabic words, such as "mass," "food," and "sell".
There is also a logical tendency that vowels in monosyllabic words ending with a voiceless stop are shorter in duration.
30 Kempton Starring Clint Eastwood in a continuation of his monosyllabic, laconic, iconic Man With No Name persona, this 1985 Western, shot through with religious overtones, tells the story of a Californian mining camp terrorised by an unpleasant businessman.
Will fit in with the rest of the monosyllabic squad.
8 Eamonn Holmes' GMTV interview with monosyllabic David Blaine.
I don't know what the collective noun for BBC undercover journalists is but I'd imagine Messrs Leahy and King would have a few monosyllabic suggestions.
Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil head the cast as a couple enduring a difficult marriage, while their son, Pierre, is distant and monosyllabic.
In this magnificently illustrated book, Terry is correctly identified as a Radical Classicist, who uses a rich and infinitely adaptable language of architecture (as opposed to the monosyllabic grunts favoured by his enemies), and is capable of the utmost sensitivity, as in his remodelling of the Church of St Helen, Bishopsgate, London, following the damage it sustained after two explosions caused by the IRA in 1992-3: it was a commission that Terry himself said gave him more satisfaction than any other, and the robust Classical doorcase in the west wall of the south transept demonstrates the radicalism to which Watkin refers in his apt title.
Instead of taking "Always a Little Further" as the title for one section of the 51st Venice Biennale (a phrase as inane as it is abstract in its blind progressivism), this year's organizers would have done better to adopt Samuel Beckett's monosyllabic monologue "I can't go on, I'll go on" as a voice-over for the grand exhibition's display of contemporary art in 2005.
An increasingly bored Anthony gave monosyllabic answers before suggesting it was time the pair headed for bed.
The cute little chap who used to happily run around with his Tonka Truck has become the monosyllabic moron whose sole ambition is to become the next Wayne Rooney, while his sullen sister has abandoned pigtails and ponies and is experimenting with makeup and who knows what else.
This social satire is played out wonderfully by all the lead characters, with scene-stealing performances from dowdy Susan (Liz Crowther) and the monosyllabic Tony (Steffan Rhodri).