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How many syllables are there in "child," "wild," and field"? If we look at the dictionary, it will tell us that these are monosyllabic words. There appear, however, to be diphthongs in each of these that lengthen the vowels to make them sound as though there are two. What do our experts say?

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Diphthongs by themselves aren't two syllables. But the liquid l or r after a diphthing might in some dialects. –  Mitch Feb 5 '13 at 0:09
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@Mitch What, are you speaking French? Il n’y a pas de /y/ dans ce mot là, tu sais, comme nous avons dans ‹tu›, qui est /ty/. –  tchrist Feb 5 '13 at 0:46
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@Mitch Pretty sure English has no phonemic /ij/ diphthong, and even if [ij] occurs phonetically, it is a mere allophone. That said, try sounding out the syllable counts in the titular tune of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and I think you will come up with eight not seven. Curious. –  tchrist Feb 5 '13 at 0:52
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@tchrist: that's just the notes in the song making extra beat. What is 'beat' in IPA? –  Mitch Feb 5 '13 at 0:59
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I've heard these pronounced like /ˈwaɪˌəld/ or /ˈwaɪˌɛld/ and so on, which I had thought might be a local thing and another effect of the Irish an guta cúnta ("helping vowel") that leads us to give film two syllables. It only occurs to me now that Irish doesn't do that between L and D, so it can't be the cause (directly anyway), and logically I may also have been incorrect in thinking it only local to here. (Of course, I'm now over-thinking these and can't think how I normally pronounce those words myself!) –  Jon Hanna Feb 5 '13 at 1:03

1 Answer 1

The words are indeed Monosyllabic. The diphthongs only show that both vowels are pronounced as two non-identical letters, but in a gliding sense, so as to not lengthen the actual word. The words continue to hold only one syllable.

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