Hi all

Ok, today's question is.. do you (as a native English speaker) make distinction between syllables when you speak a word? You know.. like.. first syllable, then second one and so on.
How do you know where one syllable starts and ends?

What I mean by that is...
do you make conscious, unconscious, physical or psychological effort to give a distinction between syllables in a word when you speak them?
If so, that means you know how many syllables there are in a word and you know what they are, right?
Then how did you manage to make such syllabic divisions in a word when the English alphabetical spelling doesn't tell you how to do that.

For example, when you say the two syllable word 'playing' /pleI.Ing/ ,
Do you first say, /pleI/ then /Ing/ so it's aurally different from one syllable word /pleIng/ (I know the word doesn't exist in English..)?

*please note that I used a dot (.) to indicate syllabic division


For the word 'better'
should /bet. er/ sound different from /be. ter/ (if the accent difference is disregarded)?

If they sound different, is it because you gave a small pause or glottal stop between the two syllables? If not how did you differenciate the two examples above?

Ok, here is a background of why I'm asking such questions..

I always believed that syllables are the order of consisting sounds when a word is spoken because I do consciously speak by syllables when I speak my native language (Korean) which incidentally spelled in syllables.

There is only one letter for one syllable where one letter can be consisted of multiple phonemic symbols.

So there is no chance of confusing where the inter-vocalic consonent should go (to the left syllable or to the right) as I do in English.. and I can't even begin to fathom how on earth can one syllable have upto 9 or 10 letters in it as they do in English. (ie. scrunched)

The word scrunched would sound like it has 5 syllables for a Korean because, in Korean, you can't have a consonent only sound (like 's' in scrunched).In other words, we actually have a vowel for every syllable we pronounce, and yes even the "s" only sound. So a Korean would pronounce the word "scrunched" as below

/s. k. run. ch. t/

5 syllables, not one..and it sound completely different from original one syllabic word.
Hence...I'm stumped because I can't figure out where the syllables start and ends in English and whether I should give any kind of indication (ie: a small pause maybe?) in between 2 syllables due to the problem I described above.

Sure I can check it with my dictionary, but am I not supposed to "know" it naturally? Sometime, I get confused how many syllables there are in one word.

In Korean, if one syllable consists of one onset, one nucleus and one coda (not obligatory), it's represented as one letter consisting 3 phonemes with onset on top, the nucleus in the middle and the coda at the bottom (not always though).

For example, the word cook would be represented as

(in English)


(in Korean)

and that's one syllabic letter with 3 phonemic symbols in it. (2 dimensional)

And also there is physical and psychological stop (almost like glottal stop) between the syllables when you say them, so I must say Korean is very syllable oriented language..and sort of syllable timed when you are reading also.

I'm sorry if I'm not explaining it right, I tried my best to be as specific as possible.

Can someone please help me.... it took a whole day to complete this post.. T_t
When I'm speaking (especially with my friends) I have a tendency to slur things together and not really say the seperate syllables. Also when speaking with friends I sometimes don't pronounce the endings, even if they are pronounced. So, instead of saying /pleI/ and then /Ing/ I'll just say /pleI/ and then /In/. I don't know exactally how to describe it....

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In English we do not really make a verbal break in words in the way you seem to be describing for Korean. All the sounds run into each other. Your example of better: neither be:ter or bet:er with a glottal stop is right, just keep on going right the way through. Mind you, regional dialects confuse the matter as glottal stops are used by a lot of people for informal speech, but 'correct' English does not use them.
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I'm not sure if this will be any help, but there are definite rules for dividing words into syllables in the English language.

Generally, if there are 2 consonants side-by-side, we divide the word there, and that gives us a clue as to how to pronounce the word. For example, the word "better"...


In English, the rules of pronunciation dictate that when a syllable ends in a consonant instead of a vowel, the vowel in that syllable is a short vowel (like the 'e' in bet-ter instead of the 'e' in 'se-quence'

You can no doubt see from the example of "se-quence [see-kwenss]" that if a syllable ends in a vowel, the vowel generally is pronounced with a long sound.

Of course, English is a ridiculously complicated language full of exceptions to every rule, but that's one basic rule of pronunciation and syllabic division. I hope this helps.
you can clap your hands together while saying the word

IF this is still a question the best way to determine where syllables are broken is to say the word with your mouth closed. The noises your hear with your mouth closed are the breaks in syllables. I personally do speak with announciation so my words are distinct not always syllabic but yes I say kit ten so both ts are heard and that is a two syllable word

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AnonymousI say kit ten so both ts are heard

People must think you're British even if you're not. Emotion: smile

Phonetically in American English there is no [t] in "kitten", at least not with an audible release.

It's basically a glottal stop followed by syllabic N. [ˈkɪʔt̚.n̩]