Does the word 'hour' have 1 or 2 syllables?
From what I understand, hour, fire, hire, layer, rhythm, etc., are all examples of words which are not easily classifiable. But, according to this linguist,
Wikipedia further confirms this in a couple of its articles.
(British) Received Pronunciation:
All that said, I suspect that the most accurate answer ultimately depends on how you pronounce it yourself. Nice question :)
Not that everything I learned in school was true, but I remember being taught that most dictionaries – at least print dictionaries – broke words into syllables, and this was one of those things that dictionaries were useful for.
So, one could always count the number of •'s, and add one, and get the number of syllables in a word:
One dictionary's own definition of syllable mentions there are three in inferno, and two in water; as could be expected, the entries for those words show them being broken up that way. By the same token, the word word has one:
However, this method for counting syllables creates a few anomalies, whereby some one- and two-syllable words are pronounced very much alike (in other words, hearing the two words would lead someone to think they have the same number of syllables, but the dictionary would indicate otherwise):
(The oddest of all might be hire and higher, which I would pronounce as true heterographs, but the dictionary would break into one and two syllables, respectively.)
I found it interesting that the word syllabification was defined as the division of words into syllables, either in speech or in writing. That "either in speech or in writing" part made me wonder if one could accurately say that the word hour has one syllable in writing, and two in speech – that is, if hour was pronounced as rhyming with tower or power, and not as a heterograph with are, as some drawlers might be inclined to do.
In the end, I sup•pose it all de•pends on how you de•fine syl•la•ble, and how you de•cide to come up with an of•fi•cial an•swer in ca•ses where the ex•act num•ber of syl•la•bles is not im•me•di•ate•ly ev•i•dent or ap•par•ent.
IPA isn't that difficult to decipher, is it?
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Since those lines of trochaic tetrameter all rhyme with each other on the last foot, hour needs must contain two syllables. The stanza is 8/8/8/8 by syllables, with rhyme scheme AAAA.
Here is a different illustration of the same thing:
That one has an 8/5/8/5 syllable pattern and an ABAB rhyme scheme. Unless power and hour rhyme, and are each two syllables, that doesn’t work.
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protected by RegDwigнt♦ Feb 18 at 20:42
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