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The central element in the language mechanism is a word. From the point of view of the theory of phonetics, it is important to investigate how words are produced. It has been established that words are articulated in syllables.

In phonetics, the syllableis a group of sounds that are pronounced together. The syllable is one or more speech sounds forming a single uninterrupted unit of utterance which may be a commonly recognized subdivision of a word or the whole of the word.

The problem of the syllabic structure of words has two aspects:

1)syllable formation

2) syllable division/separation

Articulatorily,the syllable is the minimal articulatory unit of the utterance.

Auditorily,the syllable is the smallest unit of perception: the listener identifies the whole of the syllable and after that the sounds which it contains.

Phonologically it is a structural unit which consists of a sequence of one or some phonemes of a language in numbers and arrangements permitted by the given language. Phonologically it performs three functions:

1. The constitutive function: syllables constitute words through the combination of their stress- loudness, duration-length, pitch-tone.

2. The distinctive function: the difference in the place of a syllabic boundary differentiates the meanings of the words and phrases: e.g. a 'name - an 'aim; kids 'kin - kid 'skin; my 'train might 'rain

3. The identificatory function: the listener can understand the exact meaning of the utterance only when the correct syllabic boundary is perceived: e.g. peace talks—pea stalks

Every language has its own common patterns in which the phonemes are arranged to form syllables.

According to the placement of vowels and consonants the following types of syllables are distinguished:

Placement of VOWELS Placement of CONSONANTS
open:the V is at the end , such a S is articulated with the opening of the mouth by the end: e.g. they, wri-ter covered at the beginning: the C is at the beginning of the syllable: e.g. tie
closed: which end in C, at the end of such a S the mouth is closed: e.g. hun-dred, hat covered at the end: the C is at the end of a S: e.g. on

The presentation of a syllable structure in terms of C and V (canonical forms) gives rather numerous combinations which can be grouped into 4 structural types of syllables:

1.Fully open V ore, or
2.Fully closed(V between C) CVC fat CCVC place СVСС fact CCCVCC street CVCCC facts CVCCCC sixths /sIksθs/
3. Covered at the beginning(one C or a sequence of C precede a vowel) CV too CCV spy CCCV straw
4. Covered at the end(one C or more complete the syllable) VC on VCC act VCCC acts

Structurally, the commonest types of the syllable in English are VC; CVC.

CV is considered to be the universal structure. CV syllabic types constitute more than half of all structural types in Russian and Ukrainian.

The characteristic feature of English is monosyllabism: it contains between four and five thousand monosyllabic words. Most of the words of old English origin are of one syllable. The limit for the number of syllables in a word in English is 8, e.g. incomprehensibility.

Syllables can be also designated

1) by the position in the word:

from the beginning - INITIAL (початковий), MEDIAL (серединний), FINAL (фінальний/кінцевий) or

from the end - ULTIMATE (останній), PENULTIMATE (передостанній/другий від кінця), ANTEPENULTIMATE (третій від кінця);

2) by the position in relation to stress:

PRETONIC (переднаголошений), TONIC (наголошений), POSTTONIC (післянаголошений)

(Any syllable which is not tonic is ATONIC/ненаголошений).

e.g. tre - men - dous

initial medial final

antepenultimate penultimate ultimate
pretonic tonic posttonic

The place of the syllable on the taxonomic scale of the linguistic/language units is not quite clear. On the one hand, the syllable is a unit necessary to explain the mechanism of phoneme realization within a word. On the other hand, it seems to be redundant since the taxonomic scale begins with the phoneme and goes up to the morphemeword – sentence. In terms of independence and meaningfulness, the syllable is a discrete/independent but meaningless language unit.



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