0

Has any authority recognized what we could call "half-syllables"? I.e., "Air" being pronounced /ay-r or /eh-r; not quite two whole syllables, but more than one. Or "I" pronounced /ah-e {except in the U.S. South, where it's just /ah.}

  • 1
    Maybe this question would be more appropriate for linguistics.SE? – Barmar Oct 29 '15 at 20:58
  • 1
    They're (and there and their) diphthongs - two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. – FumbleFingers Oct 29 '15 at 21:00
  • Not that I know of. It would be like a musical rhythm of 5/4 where each measure has a dotted half note followed by a half note. Try humming that! – Greg Lee Oct 29 '15 at 21:46
  • 1
    FF has provided a good link. Note that many common dipthongs are heard as single phonemes; "no highway cowboys" has 5 dipthongs in it, but only 5 syllables. – anongoodnurse Oct 29 '15 at 22:11
  • @GregLee en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintuple_meter If you can dance to it, you can hum it. – MetaEd Oct 29 '15 at 22:14
2

In a way...'sesquisyllabic' describes one-and-a-half syllable words, and they are recognized at least theoretically, by some authorities, in English. See, for example, "SESQUISYLLABLES OF ENGLISH: THE STRUCTURE OF VOWEL-LIQUID SYLLABLES", by Lisa M. Lavoie and Abigail C. Cohn, Cornell Univ.

By their account, the juxtaposition of a liquid consonant and a dipthong can produce a 'half-syllable' pronunciation. The account applies to 'air', but not 'I'.

  • 1
    This is the first I've heard of sesquisyllables. Thank you! I was never fully satisfied with the "one syllable, just one, only one" explanation. – Kit Johnson Aug 31 '17 at 8:10
0

Actually, they're diphthongs, according to the standard definition of a diphthong found here:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/diphthong

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.