Syllable is a unit of sound composed if a central peak of sonority (usually a vowel) and the consonants that cluster around this central peak.
A syllable is also that part of a word, which is said with one breath or pulse. It is the smallest unit of speech, which can be pronounced at once. It usually contains one vowel and some consonants e.g. in ‘baby’ there are two syllables, each containing a consonant and a vowel /beil/ and /bi/.
Words and syllables
Words may be classified in the bars of the number of syllables they have. It could be one syllable, two or more than two syllables. There are three (3) categories of syllables namely.
Monosyllable Words: words that are made up of one syllable. Every monosyllable word which makes makes its counterpart, i.e. structural words to be stressed is when they appear in isolation e.g.
Prepositions – on, in, of, etc
Conjunctions – and, but, etc
Pronouns – she, he, you etc
Other monosyllabic words – man, go, book etc
Disyllabic words: words which are made up of two syllables. One of the two syllables gets stressed which the second has its quality reduced.
Disyllabic words can receive the stress placement on the first or second syllable depending or the state and class of the word. Nouns usually receive their stress placement in the first syllable while verbs receive them on second syllable.
Word Noun Verb
Export EXport export
Desert DEsert deSERT
Convict CONvict conVICT
Refuse REfuse reFUSE
Also, adjectives are stressed on the first while verbs are stressed on the second syllable. E.g.
Word Adjective Verb
Frequent FREquent freQUENT
Absent ABsent abSENT
Polysyllabic Words: words with more than two syllables. Importantly the stress placement changes as the word class of the word changes e.g. examination, impossible, generation etc.
Activity: Write out five words each for the following types of syllable
- Monosyllabic words
- Disyllabic words
- Polysyllable words