More about Syllables

Syllables: Onsets, Rhymes, Nuclei & Coda

What are Syllables?

Words can be broken up into smaller units, its syllables. Syllables are really just organizational units for a sequence of speed sounds. A word must contains at least one syllable.

What do Syllables do?

Syllables make speech easier for the human brain to process. Humans rely on syllables as a way of analyzing the stream of speech to give it a rhythm of beats, both weak and strong, as we often hear in music. Syllables are tremendously influential in a language's conveyance of information and greatly affects a language's rhythm, metric structure and inflections.

Parts of a Syllable

A syllable is made up of a vowel core with optional preceding and following vocal margins which are typically made up by consonants. Proficient speakers of English have no trouble dividing a word up into its component syllables. Sometimes how a particular word is divided might vary from one individual to another, but a division is always easy and always possible. Using a dash to mark between the syllables, here are some examples:

hear:hear (one syllable)

Syllables have internal structure, namely they can be divided into parts. The parts are onset and rhyme; within the rhyme we find the nucleus and coda. Not all syllables have all parts, and the smallest possible syllable contains a nucleus only. A syllable may or may not have an onset and a coda.

Onset refers to the beginning sounds of a syllable, and rhyme (or rime) is the rest of the syllable. Using bold for the onsets and italics for the rhymes, "distribution" can be represented as "dis-tri-bu-tion."

A rhyme can itself be broken up into a nucleus and coda. The nucleus, as the term suggests, is the core part and is a necessary component of any syllable, and it the more resonant sound, most often a vowel. Codas are the less significant part of a syllable and are more often comprised by the consonant sounds.

Go on to a discussion about etymology.

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