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24 Jun 2007 12:20 UTCSun 24 Jun 2007 - 12:20 pm UTC
Some words seem to be more than one syllable, but not quite two. All the 'ile' words for instance: mile, smile, style. Pronouncing these words as a single syllable seems forced, and pronouncing them as two syllables seems exaggerated.
Is there a term for these type of 1.5 syllable words? Are they conventionally considered as one syllable words, two syllable words, or just a special case that doesn't fit?
24 Jun 2007 15:49 UTCSun 24 Jun 2007 - 3:49 pm UTC
Thank you for the interesting question and bringing something to our attention that is one of those things that we all do but never think about: 'demi-syllables'. So, using your example, the word 'mile' is actually made up of two demi-syllables which equal one syllable (not one and a half syllables).
Applied Speech Technology
By Ann K. Syrdal
"...there are over 10,000 different syllables in English...". "The demi-syllable is half a syllable; that is, either a syllable-initial consonant or consonant cluster plus the first half of the vowel..."
An Introduction to Multi-Lingual Speech Recognition
"These consist of half a syllable, from the beginning of the syllable to the middle of the vowel, or from the middle of the vowel to the end of the syllable. Syllables are thus split at the point of maximum intensity. In English, the total number of demisyllables is around 2000. This number can be reduced further by recognising that consonant clusters in syllables are often preceded or followed by affixes, such as when /s/ is added to form the plural of a noun. If such affixes are removed from the consonant clusters used, we end up with around 1600 demisyllables. This is very close to the number of demisyllables in German, which was found to be around 1630."
Recognizing Fast Talkers
Finally, you may be interested in taking this quiz!
What American accent do you have?
By the way, thank you for asking about screen capture freeware. Thanks to Pink's answer, I now have Snippy installed and just love it, it's really neat.
24 Jun 2007 16:26 UTCSun 24 Jun 2007 - 4:26 pm UTC
Thanks a lot for some interesting material. But I'm not sure that demisyllables are really the answer here.
From what I can make out from the links you gave, any one syllable word can be divided into demisyllables. It's something linguists made up for who-knows-what reason. So the word 'but' is two demisyllables, 'buh' and 'uht', but put together, they make a clear-cut on syllable word. Note that no one gives any examples of what I called one and half syllable words.
I was asking about words that don't seem to fit neatly into the one syllable or two syllable category. "Mile' for instance, is *almost* two syllables: my-el. But not really. 'Styled' is even a better example. One syllable, or two?
In truth, I thought this would be a straightforward piece of research that I was too lazy to do on my own. But perhaps I was wrong there.
This is only a $5 question. so clearly, it doesn't warrant a lot of effort on your part. But if you can scratch around a bit more and let me know if anything shows up, I would appreciate it a lot.
Thank you. Also, thanks for reminding me about that screen capture question. Yeah, it's a cool program.
24 Jun 2007 18:40 UTCSun 24 Jun 2007 - 6:40 pm UTC
Hi. Just a note to let you know that I've read your message and will get back to you as soon as possible (something has come up that I must attend to). I understand your question and I agree, it would be nice to find a good example.
24 Jun 2007 19:22 UTCSun 24 Jun 2007 - 7:22 pm UTC
No rush. Take your time. Like I said, it's a cheapskate's question, so anything you can provide beyond what you've already done is just icing on the cake.
25 Jun 2007 00:46 UTCMon 25 Jun 2007 - 12:46 am UTC
I'm going to stick with my original answer of the term demi-syllable, it is the only description that I've come across and it makes sense as described. Many websites confirm, more or less, that the words are monosyllabic, but I've not been able to find a term for them other than that they contain two demi-syllables.
Fred Cummins, Department of Linguistics, Northwestern University
"With others, such as hour or fire, there may be no good answer to the question of how many syllables there are. So although syllabification is easy most of the time, it sometimes just isn't clear."
How Many Vowel Sounds Are There in English?
by David Deterding, National Institute of Education
"The third issue is the most complex. It rests on a judgement about how many syllables there are in hire and hour. If the answer is one, then triphthongs must exist as single vowels, as each syllable can only have one vowel. But if hire and hour are judged to be bisyllabic, then we can say the first syllable has a diphthong and the second syllable has /ə/, and in this case there is no need to include triphthongs as single vowels. To make things worse, many people consider hire to be mono- syllabic but higher to be bisyllabic, even though they are pronounced in exactly the same way.
Roach (2000:24) lists five potential triphthongs, the vowels in liar, hour, layer, loyal and lower, but he leaves it open whether they should be regarded as separate vowels or not..."
Basic Syllable Rules
"1. To find the number of syllables:
---count the vowels in the word,
---subtract any silent vowels, (like the silent "e" at the end of a word or the second vowel when two vowels a together in a syllable)
---subtract one vowel from every dipthong, (diphthongs only count as one vowel sound.)
---the number of vowels sounds left is the same as the number of syllables.
The number of syllables that you hear when you pronounce a word is the same as the number of vowels sounds heard. For example:
The word "came" has 2 vowels, but the "e" is silent, leaving one vowel sound andone syllable.
The word "outside" has 4 vowels, but the "e" is silent and the "ou" is a diphthong which counts as only one sound, so this word has only two vowels sounds and therefore, two syllables."
And last but not least, a questioner on our dearly departed GA tackled the question of "Counting syllables in 'fire' and other words".
Counting syllables in "fire" and other words
I hope I've been able to help at least a little!
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