18

This is, in fact, possible! It's not trivial, but it is straightforward. Your goal seems to be to break an English word (written in phonemic IPA) into syllables. There's a bit of controversy about how useful the concept of a "syllable" is in English, and a few different theories about what exactly a "syllable" is if it does exist, but the following is ...


17

In English, one counterexample is the very common '-ed’ (often /d/) ending: ‘filled’ is 1 syllable, and the morphemes are ‘fill’ + ‘-ed’ (/d/).


16

Yoon Mi Oh's 2015 thesis (pages 44-45) provides estimates of the number of syllables for various languages, gathered by taking the 20,000 most frequent words in a corpus of each language and counting the different syllables that show up. Ordering them by increasing number of syllables: Japanese: 643 Korean: 1104 Mandarin: 1274 Cantonese: 1298 Basque: 2082 ...


15

There are a number of different goals that the constructors of conlangs might have, such as ease of learning, regularity of grammar, minimal inventory of phonemes, or philosophical hierarchy of knowledge. Conciseness could be such a goal, but I do not remember encountering an actual conlang where it was (John Lawler mentions a fictional example, in Heinlein'...


11

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward syllabification method that is accepted by a majority of linguists. As you pointed out, different dictionaries provide different syllabification methods. Usually, syllabification is considered from a phonological point of view (a phonetic perspective is possible but less common, see below). Most linguistics can ...


10

In thinking about this it's important to distinguish between phonetics and phonology. Phonetically a diphthong is a sequence of two vowel targets, wherein the tongue starts at one vowel position and moves to another. For this reason it may sometimes be described as a combination of vowel and glide, but it's best to understand the articulatory facts of what ...


9

The notion of 'distinctive' sounds indicates that the discussion must be limited to phoneme inventories found in a single language. To do this we can consider the largest known inventories of contrastive (i.e. which I'm taking 'distinctive' to mean for the purposes of this answer) consonants, vowels and tonal features. Consonant inventories According to ...


9

No. The use of a ‘characters writing system’ (I take it you mean something not simply alphabetic) does not restrict the number of distinct syllables. Even if you look at Yoon Mi Oh's list there's no reason to assume this. The gap between Cantonese and Basque isn't all that great and Korean uses an alphabet. The list is also fairly biased, for example many ...


8

A syllable is a phonological unit. Native speakers of two different languages can hear the same stimulus as having different numbers of syllables if their respective phonologies have different criteria for what can constitute a syllable. For example, a Hebrew speaker may hear a stream speech and perceive it as [pka] while an English speaker might hear the ...


8

First off, phonetics is not about features, though often in introductory classes if you don't have separate courses on phonetics and phonology, phonetics gets lumped together with phonology. Second, it is simply wrong to say that liquids and nasals are [+cons,-syll]. The misstatement comes from confusing the most common properties of a system with the ...


8

One way to get a better grasp of the phonetics of syllabic consonants is to listen to a minimal pair in a language that has them, such as here. This is the pair [mbááŋgàà m̩̀bááŋgàà] (in that order) meaning "I am arranging", "you pl. are arranging", in Logoori. Phonologically, the difference is that [m̩] is an entire syllable, and [m] is just a consonant ...


8

The claim that there are no syllables is based on the lack of evidence that the syllable is necessary, so this is an Occam’s Razor argument. If no language presents sufficient evidence that syllables exist, we cannot legitimately say that syllables exist, and that is the claim (i.e. that no language has been shown to have such evidence). However, all current ...


8

The first reason for [sɪŋ.ɪŋ] is the premise that [ŋ] only appears in the coda. The main argument for that conclusion is the analogy between word position and syllable position. Steriade has some discussion (reference not available at the moment) questioning syllables (attributing speaker behavioral such as intuitions to analogy to word-positions), and I ...


8

It's also a widely-held axiom in linguistics (phonology, specifically) that segments are always syllabified, in all languages. But that is not an empirically well-supported claim. There are certainly a number of languages which provide various kinds of evidence that the syllable can be a thing, just as [ʕ] can be a segment of a language, but not every ...


7

The dirty little secret of English is that syllable boundaries mostly do not matter (unlike other languages). What is important is the syllable nuclei which are easily identified either as the vowel or a syllabic consonant (such as / n / in 'sudden'.) As @robert says, the Onset Maximization Principle is most commonly adopted when trying to determine which ...


7

It is quite rare, but it arguably exists. Fante Akan has syllabic consonants which appear at ends pf words, preceded by a vowel. Such a word can be followed by a vowel-initial word, thus [ɔ̀pám̀ àtàŕ] "he sewed + a dress" (accents are tone). The historical explanation is that final CV was reduced to a syllabic consonant in some contexts, so compare Akuapem ...


7

The official Chinese language isn't "supposed to" be monosyllabic, at all. That's a misconception. Chinese languages are polysyllabic and that's it, including the putonghua standard (the pīnyīn orthographic standard, for example, includes rules to space the letters by polysyllabic words). The confusion arises because Chinese morphemes are usually ...


7

Terminologically, I think you are interested in the number of "distinct syllables" in a language. "Syllabic phoneme" means, approximately, "vowels", but also syllabic consonant (as exist in some languages), and with the provision that the sound has to be contrastive and not allophonic (for instance, you would not count with [ə] ...


7

There is a very good reason for thinking that this is coincidence. The reason is that a language has the same number of syllables whether it is written or not, and whether it is written with one form of script or another. Mandarin has the same number of syllables whether it is written in characters or Pinyin. The only way the pattern could be significant is ...


7

In some cases, I do think there's a causal link here. However, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, and Thai have very different writing systems, so I wouldn't group them all together as "characters". (Japanese is a syllabary plus logograms, Mandarin is pure logograms, Korean is an alphabet, and Thai is an abugida.) Focusing on Japanese specifically, ...


6

There is no reasonable analysis under which "mcDon" is a syllable. It is two syllables, irrespective of whether you write an 'a' in it or not. "Kvit" (or "kvi") is one syllable except for those people who find it impossible to pronounce the cluster "kv", and for them it is two syllables.


6

One good attempt at a language like this is Dutton Speedwords, which was elaborated under a principle known as Zipf's law, namely, that most common words are the shortest. One language that preceded Esperanto was Volapük, which made words unrecognizable and difficult to connect to words in other languages. In the free marketplace of ideas, Esperanto rose to ...


6

Good question! I wasn't able to find any unambiguous examples either with a short search, and I found one source that says there are no known examples of languages with only CV syllables. Understanding Phonology (Fourth Edition), by Carlos Gussenhoven and Haike Jacobs, says: The onset may be obligatory. Languages with obligatory onsets are not hard to ...


6

The question of "syllabicity" comes down to syllable structure. Every known language has some sort of prosodic unit that we can call a "syllable", usually (but not always!) smaller than a whole word and larger than a single phoneme. In languages with morae, like Japanese, syllables are also larger than morae. And in particular, every syllable seems to be ...


6

It's a widely-held axiom in linguistics that syllabification is never phonemic. In other words, words aren't stored in your brain pre-broken-down into syllables; that syllabification happens later according to regular rules. The reasoning behind this axiom is a bit circular, since it sometimes requires you to finagle your underlying phonemic forms to encode ...


5

I looked at the SO discussion (and admit that I can't compute the consequences of all of the code). Those guys even admit that hyphenation solutions can't handle quasi-novel data (such as names of Welsh origin). Linguists can contribute linguistic clarity to the discussion. I maintain that the SO answers do not yield correct syllabification, since ...


5

To answer (1): in Greek, geminates syllabify across a syllable boundary, so the first syllable is closed, e.g. γλῶτ.τα. We know this for two reasons: We know that Greek doesn't allow a syllable to begin with a geminate, because if it did, there should be words where this occurs initially (e.g. *ττα) or after a consonant (e.g. *γλῶρττα), and such words don't ...


5

Answers to your questions have to be prefaced with disclaimers about how one determines that something has a mora, or not -- phonology has embraced and eschewed the concept, and used it for all sorts of things. With that caveat, it has become a matter of virtual principle that every syllable nucleus has a mora (though Piggott 1995 "Epenthesis and syllable ...


5

The main fact that has to be accounted for is that many languages have phonological processes that distinguish heavy from light syllables, for example in Mongolian, stress is assigned to the first "heavy" syllable; in Arabic (broadly speaking: much dialect divergence and fine-grained specifics differ), stress is within the last 3 syllables and the ...


5

Assuming you are using the CMU dictionary then each phoneme of type "vowel" indicates that there is a syllable. It won't tell you where the break is in a sequence of consonants, but it will (quickly) give you the count.


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