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syllable


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


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[Gk σνλλαβή ‘fetters’] The intuitively elementary, but scientifically ill-defined, smallest suprasegmental sound unit of speech. Phonologically the syllable is analysed as consisting of a V ‘nucleus’ and initial and final C ‘margins’, which are optional. A syllable with no final C margin is an ‘open syllable’, as opposed to a ‘closed syllable’ with a final C. Another structural division commonly recognized is that between initial ‘onset’ and following ‘rhyme’ or ‘coda’. Syllables can be long or short. A short syllable is a ‘mora’, i.e. a minimal unit of metrical time. Syllabic writing systems analyse the sound continuum of speech into syllables. They differ in what they recognize as syllables. For example, length may or may not be distinguished. Hence, the syllable as represented in writing is a language specific unit. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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