Reading recent postings about syllables I've been struck and baffled by talk of the possibility that words may have a different number of syllables when they are written than when they are spoken.
As a musician I am very clear that a book of music is just that, a book containing a (more or less helpful) representation of music. The book itself is not a piece of music (any more than Magritte's painting of a pipe 'is' actually a pipe). Only the sound of music is music. It is also my view (and among musicians I'm not out on any kind of limb!) that wonderful and awe-inspiring as music theory is to me, it is based on the work of a succession of rule-breaking composers. Music theory has always, and can only, play catch-up with music practice.
Do you think this is the case with language ? When I say church I make two clear sounds. I think you have to. On what grounds could church be said to have only one syllable ?
The OED offers that syllable is
a vocal sound or set of sounds uttered with a single effort of articulation and forming a word or an element of a word; each of the elements of spoken language comprising a sound of greater sonority (vowel or vowel-equivalent) with or without one or more sounds of less sonority (consonants or consonant-equivalents).
If I say, "I'll meet you at the church" - church involves, for me, two 'efforts of articulation' ... two syllables?