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A syllable is a sequence of speech sounds (formed from vowels and consonants) organized into a single unit. Syllables act as the building blocks of a spoken word, determining the pace and rhythm of how the word is pronounced.
The three structural elements of a syllable are the nucleus, the onset, and the coda.
Syllables can be structured several ways, but they always contain a nucleus, which is (usually) formed from a vowel sound. The nucleus is the core of the syllable, indicating its individual “beat” within a word; the number of syllables in a word will be determined by the number of vowel sounds forming their nuclei.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
To contribute to research on the typology of syllable and word languages, Reina examines the common patterns derived from the centrality of the prosodic domain of the phonological word in two distant-related languages: Central Catalan, a Romance dialect belonging to the Catalan dialect group, and Swabian, a German dialect belonging to the Alemannic dialect group.
In addition to its significant role in phonological representation and analysis, syllable has shown an ever-increasing powerful presence and dominant capacity in accounting for various phonological phenomena.
The best is alternate where the verb carries stress on the first syllable and the adjective on the next.
In the study, he tested different characteristics to see what matters the most - the word or the syllables. The findings of the work revealed that when a person talks, both word and syllable detectors are activated, which gives the listener a perception of speech. However, when the phrase is repeated on a loop, the word detectors get tired and do not work as strongly as the syllable nodes, which do not suffer fatigue that quickly.
Keeping in mind the effect of VOT (a parameter in which the consonant and vowel parts of a syllable interact with each other) on syllable-evoked cortical potentials, one possible way to investigate how each of the consonant and vowel parts combine to form the syllable-evoked response is to record responses evoked by each constituent part in addition to the whole syllable response.
The average speech rate was derived by dividing the length and number of syllables. Hence, the average rate could show a large gap between the speech rates by each syllable.
These suffixes in English Language are called shifter, they shift strong stress to the antepenultimate (third from the last), similarly penultimate (second from the last), and ultimately (last) syllables, as well as those suffixes that do not shift strong stress to other syllable.
In addition, the temporal and tonal characteristics of disyllabic weak-grade words with a short first syllable and a half-long second syllable are discussed in the thesis.
The analysis of the data suggests that there are Pitch and Durational differences between the male and female speech though the performance in the area of lexical stress was same; most of them pronounced the given words either in a flat and unstressed manner or placed stress on the wrong syllable. The results suggest that English lexical stress is a difficult phenomenon for its foreign learners.
Just as sixteenth notes must be played more rapidly than eighths, so the two unaccented syllables of the anapest must be read more rapidly than would be a single unaccented syllable" (927).
The simplest practical rule is that which shows how to apply one syllable to each isolated note, or to each group of slurred or beamed notes.