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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
These are mainly monosyllabic and disyllabic words, that can also be perceived as native words.
A difference exists in the ratio of syllabic -ed and disyllabic -ion: Lust's Dominion, exactly like Dekker's The Noble Spanish Soldier, has no syllabic -ed at all, and very few disyllabic variants of -ion, again, like Dekker's play.
In the present study, we also observed that open-set word recognition increased with greater CI usage times, which is consistent with the findings of Montag et al .[12] Moreover, the present study revealed that recognition is better for easy words and disyllabic words, compared to difficult or monosyllabic words, which is consistent with the findings of Krull et al .[13] Therefore, the results indicate that children with CI experience the lexical effect, similar to children with NH, and that the NAM theory can reflect the same pattern among children with and without hearing impairment.[14],[15]
An idiomatic translation xuxin de ren ([phrase omitted]) (humble person) is used in Matthew 5:3, in which xuxin ([phrase omitted]) (humble) is a disyllabic compound in Modern Chinese.
Lines that freely combine disyllabic and trisyllabic feet or that vary units of one and two "offbeats," in Derek Attridge's terminology, are natural to verse in English when the feet are not shackled to the regularly iambic meter of much serious English poetry.
Standard Finnish length contrast of the non-initial vowels is schematized as follows (open disyllabic feet with initial short, see (1)-(2), and long, see (3)-(4), syllables are taken as examples):
Tonal melodies on monosyllabic noun and verb roots give evidence that they were originally disyllabic.
In this test, individuals are presented with 12 lists, numbered 1-12, each containing 15 common Portuguese disyllabic and trisyllabic words.
In another study (140 participants), specifically conducted on Portuguese, three disyllabic words (words with two syllables), as tema in Portuguese (syllabic division: or 'theme' in English, and three trisyllabic words (words with three syllables), as tomada in Portuguese (syllabic division: