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Academic year: 2022



Повний текст





ALLA M. KROKHMAL, Associate Professor, PhD in Education, Scientific Adviser

O. M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy in Kharkiv

Definition of a syllable

Syllable is a single unit of speech , either a whole word or one of the parts into which a word can be separated, usually containing a vowel.

The essential part of a syllable is a vowel sound (V) which may be preceded and/or followed by a consonant (C) or a cluster of consonants (CC or CCC). Some syllables consist of just one vowel sound (V) as in I and eye/ai/, owe/ə/. In English, a syllable can consist of a vowel preceded by one consonant (CV) as in pie/pai/, or by two consonants (CCV) as in try/trai/, or by three consonants (CCCV) as in spry/sprai/. The vowel of the syllable may also be followed by one consonant (VC) as in at/æt/, or by two consonants (VCC) as in its/its/, or by three consonants (CVCCC) as in text/tekst/or by four consonants (CVCCCC) as in texts/teksts/.

Analyze of a syllable

A syllable can have as many as three parts:

● onset

● nucleus

● coda

The onset and the coda are consonants, or consonant clusters, that appear at the beginning and in the end of the syllable respectively. The nucleus forms the core of the syllable; it is most often a vowel, or a combination of vowels - but there are exceptions to that. In the word “cat” for example, [c] is the syllable onset, [a] is the nucleus, and [t] the coda. A syllable does not necessarily have an onset or a coda, but a nucleus is always present. If a coda is present in a syllable, the nucleus and the coda form a single unit called a rhyme; otherwise the nucleus makes up the rhyme by itself. Looking at “cat” again, [at] forms the rhyme.

Even in English, syllable nuclei are not restricted to vowels. For example, in the monosyllabic word, “hmm”, the syllable nucleus is the nasal consonant [ṃ]. The small dot underneath the character ṃ indicates that the sound represented is a syllabic consonant, which is any consonant that forms a syllable nucleus. Vowels are not marked with the same diacritic because they are always considered to be syllabic.

The syllable can be analyzed from 1. the acoustic point of view 2. the auditory point of view 3. the articulatory point of view 4. the functional point of view



Acoustic analysis of syllables made it possible to formulate some rules of syllable division.

Auditorily the syllable is the smallest unit of perception: the listener identifies the whole of the syllable and only after that the sounds it consists of.

The articulatory energy which constitutes the syllable results from the combined action of the power, vibrator, resonator and obstructor mechanisms.

Phonologically the syllable is regarded and defined in terms of its structural and functional properties.

Syllable formation

Every syllable has its structure, or form, depending on the kind of speech sounds it ends in. From this point of view there are two types of syllables:

OPEN –if it ends in a vowel sound: he, they.

CLOSED – if it ends in a consonant sound: it, hun-dred, man.

There is however another approach to classification of syllables, it’s based on the principle of what sound the syllable begins and ends with:

FULLY OPEN – it consists of one vowel sound: ore. (V)

FULLY CLOSED – has a vowel between consonants: bit, left, space.


COVERED AT THE BEGINNING – one consonant or a sequence of consonants precede a vowel: too, spy, straw. (CV, CCV, CCCV)

COVERED AT THE END – is completed by one or more consonants: on, act, acts. (VC, VCC, VCCC)

Stressed, unstressed syllables

When a word has more than one syllable, a single syllable within the word is given more emphasis than any of the other syllables. That syllable is considered to be the stressed syllable. The vowel sound of the stressed syllable is emphasized by being pronounced longer, louder, and often at a higher pitch than the surrounding syllables. Vowel sounds of stressed syllables are more likely to be phonetic (pronounced as the spelling would suggest).

The stressed syllable of an English word may be pronounced by high tone and become longer, while unstressed syllables are shorter and have a low tone of voice.

The symbol / ˈ/ is used to represent the stressed syllable of a multi- syllable word.

Unstressed syllables and schwa notation /ə/

Within a multi-syllable word, an unstressed syllable is frequently located next to a stressed syllable. Often, this vowel sound is not phonetic (not pronounced the way it is spelled), and is instead pronounced with a quick, neutral vowel sound called schwa. Because schwa is a function of syllable stress and not spelling, schwa can have almost any spelling.

In dictionary transcriptions, the vowel sound schwa is represented with an upside-down e: /ə/.

Secondarily-stressed syllable dictionary notation / ˌ /



Secondarily-stressed syllables most often occur two beats off a main stress. They are given more emphasis than unstressed syllables, but not as much as a stressed syllable. Secondarily stressed syllables are more likely to be pronounced phonetically than unstressed syllables.

The symbol / ˌ / is used to represent secondarily-stressed syllables of a multi-syllable word.


The relevance of my topic is that in the context of globalization, advances in information technology and the widespread use of the Internet, the development of students' ability to speak English with global intelligibility has become the main focus of teaching English. An Introduction to English Phonetics and Phonology aims to help students speak the language correctly with correct pronunciation, stress and intonation in words and sentences.


1. Mohammed Aslam, Professor, Department of English, University of Kashmir, Aadil Amin Kak, Professor, Department of English, University of Kashmir:”

Introduction to English Phonetics and Phonology”

2. Syllable Structure: The Limits of Variation (Oxford Linguistics)



ZHANNA P. BEZTSINNA, Senior Teacher, Language Adviser O. M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy in Kharkiv MARTIN HORN, Language Instructor

South-Moravian Educational Center (Brno, Czech Republic)

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