Ling250-14-Syllables - 1 Linguistics 250 Sound Patterns in...

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1 Linguistics 250: Sound Patterns in Human Language Syllable Structure Syllable What is a syllable? People generally have a very intuitive understanding of what syllable is e.g., people find it easy to count syllables Count the syllables in: suprasegmental phonetic cotton seal 5 3 2 1 2 Syllable Many phonological processes refer to the syllable as the relevant environment (i.e., where in the syllable some allophonic process occurs) Syllables are also the units that bear stress and serve as the “anchor points” for tones and in intonation 3 Psychological Evidence for Syllables Slips of the tongue: interchanges typically maintain position in syllable a h eap of j unk a hunk of jeep (switch of all but syllable-initial sound) a c u p of c o ffee a cop of cuffee (switch of vowels) w eak l ink leak wink (switch of syllable-initial sounds) We don’t often get errors such as: wea k l ink weal kink (switch word-1 final & word-2 initial sounds) Language games e.g. French verlan e.g. me.tro obeys syllable structure 4 mae.stro stro.mae Syllable Definition So what is a syllable? How can we define it more precisely? 5 Syllable Structure A syllable is a unit of sound composed of a central peak of sonority (usually a vowel) the consonants that cluster around this central peak
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