I need to figure out what the proper syllabification of words in American English is and why. PLEASE NOTE: I am interested in syllabification from a phonetic point of view, not in terms of hyphenation/spelling.
Dictionary.com (Random House) and Cambridge dictionary give those transcriptions:
- very /ˈvɛr.i/
- city /ˈsɪt.i/
- syllable /ˈsɪl.ə.bəl/
Meanwhile, syllabify from Penn Phonetics Toolkit (P2TK) gives those:
- very /ˈvɛ.ri/
- city /ˈsɪ.ti/
- syllable /ˈsɪ.lə.bəl/
They do agree on "people" /ˈpipəl/ for example, though.
This leaves me with the following questions:
- Which set of transcriptions is correct and why? (Or are they both acceptable?)
- How do native speakers typically conceive those syllables? (Do they hear a distinction between one syllabification and the other?)
Background: I'm working on a webapp and training using modern linguistics to help in teaching ESL. (Key features are a focus on sound and the systematic use of IPA transcriptions.) I can see how /ˈvɛr.i/ would help in putting more emphasis on the stressed syllable, meanwhile foreigners thinking of it as /ˈvɛ.ri/ might lead to people giving too much intensity to the unstressed syllable -- but that's just my take on it. I'd like to find out how native speakers think this and what professional linguists make of it.