There are not many questions of "Intervocalic Consonant" on Stackoverflow.

Ok, I found this theory on the internet. It said:

The main syllabification principle

If allophonic rules are to be allowed to refer to syllable boundaries as part of their conditioning environments, we need a principled way of specifying the location of such boundaries. I propose that English syllabification is governed by a straightforward principle:

(1) Subject to certain conditions (discussed below), consonants are syllabified with the more strongly stressed of two flanking syllables. Thus the /k/ in packet belongs to the first, stressed, syllable. This analysis is supported by its homophony with pack it: both are /ˈpæk.ɪt/. The /f/ of dolphin belongs in the first syllable: /ˈdɒlf.ɪn/ has the same rhythm as selfish /ˈself.ɪʃ/, where this division is supported by the morphology. The /p/ in happy belongs in the first syllable, as evidenced by its relative lack of aspiration and by the pre-fortis clipping of the /æ/: /ˈhæp.ɪ/. Both the /n/ and the /t/ of enter belong in the first syllable, since the /t/ triggers clipping of both the /e/ and the /n/. The /p/ of typing /ˈtaɪp.ɪŋ/ conditions clipping of its syllable-mate /aɪ/: compare tiepin, where the /p/ exerts no such influence. (Such clipping of the /aɪ/ as there is in this latter word falls under the different heading of ‘rhythmic clipping’, the isochronising effect of unstressed syllables on a preceding stressed syllable.)

Similarly, crisis is /ˈkraɪs.ɪs/: compare rising /ˈraɪz.ɪŋ/, with a lenis syllable-final consonant, hence less clipping. The rhythmic difference between hearty /ˈhɑːt.ɪ/ and hardy /ˈhɑːd.ɪ/ has the same explanation, and is to be referred to the durational difference between heart and hard. In driver /ˈdraɪv.ə/, as in thousands of other words, the phonology parallels the morphology (pace Fudge 1969: 20). In banker we see this even more clearly (pre-fortis clipping, /ˈbæŋk.ə/); anchor rhymes with it perfectly, but fan club has a different rhythm.

As the influence exerted by suffixes causes the stress to shift, so the syllabic affiliations of consonants change. In note and noting /ˈnəʊt.ɪŋ/ the /t/ of not(e) is syllable-final, but in notation /nəʊ.ˈteɪʃ.n/ and annotate /ˈæn.ə.teɪt/ it is syllable-initial and aspirated. In attest /ə.ˈtest/ the first /t/ is strongly aspirated, attracted into the second syllable by the stress; in attestation /ˌæt.e.ˈsteɪʃ.n/ it has less aspiration or none, since the second syllable is now unstressed while the first has secondary pre-tonic stress, which makes it capture the /t/ back. In apply /əˈplaɪ/ the /l/ is voiceless, as it carries the aspiration of the syllable-initial /p/; in application /ˌæp.lɪ.ˈkeɪʃ.n/ it is less so. In magnetic /mæg.ˈnet.ɪk/ the /t/ is syllable-final and a candidate for possible tapping; in magnetism /ˈmæg.nə.₀tɪz.əm/ the tertiary (post-tonic) stress on /ɪz/ is sufficient to attract the /t/ into syllable-initial position, triggering aspiration while blocking tapping.

Generally, the theory said that "consonants are syllabified with the more strongly stressed of two flanking syllables."

Here is what I understood: "If an Intervocalic Consonant is standing between 2 vowels, that Consonant will belongs to stressed syllable". However, I feel that this theory didn't discuss how that Intervocalic Consonant plays its role on the unstressed syllable?.

For example, in headache /ˈhed.eɪk/, the /d/ will belong to the syllable /ˈhed/, but I can hear the sound /ˈdeɪk/ quite clearly.

So, clearly the /d/ DO play its role on the eɪk/ which is an unstressed syllable.

So, I think when we pronounce /ˈhed/, the tip of the tongue will stay at the gum ridge for a while (maybe a few seconds or miliseconds) & then the tongue flaps down to create the sound /ˈdeɪk/

So, when we pronounce /ˈhed/, the tongue of d went half-way (the tip of the tongue touches the gum ridge); & when we pronounce /ˈdeɪk/, the tongue of d went the final-half (the tongue will flap down from the position of the gum ridge)

Also, how syllabification works when "Intervocalic Consonant" stands between 2 unstressed syllables?

This is what I understood but not sure I am right?

  • See also: Linguistics
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:40
  • people in this forum knows much more phonetics than ones in Linguistics. People in Linguistics don't know much phonetics. My own experience!
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:42
  • The text needs quite some editing. Please take some help. Note that this is an advanced English language Q&A site.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:42
  • Tom, people on ELU can catch your grammar and syntax errors (perhaps, even better than those on linguistics)!
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:44
  • 3
    @Tom: I think the problem is that you are interpreting the word "syllabification" differently from the way that Wells interprets it. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


(I'm not a linguist, so this is just my incomplete understanding of the matter.)

Wells's theory of syllabification is phonological, not necessarily phonetic. As the extract says, the theory tries to explain "allophonic rules [that] refer to syllable boundaries as part of their conditioning environments." In other words, Wells isn't just basing this just on the syllables that you hear. So it doesn't matter if you can hear the syllable /deɪk/ in "headache."

Phonetically, adjacent speech sounds almost always affect each other.

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