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For this word: ○ recommend ○/ˌrekəˈmend/

1) /rekə/ is the first syllable. Does it contain two vowels? ■ e is a vowel ■ ə is a vowel

I thought syllables can only contain one vowel?

2) the [ ']symbol before /rekə/ means that /rekə/ is stressed. So why is the "o" in "reco" reduced to a schwa? Do stressed vowels get reduced? I thought only unstressed vowels got reduced.

3) Do words only have one stressed syllable or can they have two stressed syllables?

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    The first syllable is not /rekə/. That is a trochaic foot made up of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. Depending on what theory of syllabification you use, the first syllable would either be /re/ or /rek/. In transcriptions, the symbols ˌ and ˈ are used to mark stress; they also divide syllables, but they aren't used between all syllables. The general syllable division mark is a period: we'd write /ˌrek.əˈmend/ or /ˌre.kəˈmend/. – sumelic Mar 23 '18 at 9:22
  • What is the source of these theories? Or are they presumptions? Have you looked up a good dictionary for the pronunciations? – Kris Mar 23 '18 at 9:40
  • I didn't make an objective truth claim. – James Mar 23 '18 at 12:01
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    The general theory is that all words have exactly one syllable with primary stress, but some words also have another syllable with secondary stress. For example, in /ˌrek.əˈmend/, /mend/ has primary stress and /rek/ has secondary stress. For very long words, (like extraliterary) it's possible to have two syllables with secondary stress. – Peter Shor Mar 23 '18 at 12:21
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    @PeterShor ... and so is that! – Martin Bonner Mar 23 '18 at 12:27
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Syllables can only contain one vowel or diphthong (although different dialects of English may disagree as to whether something is two vowels or a diphthong—idea has three syllables in American English and two syllables in British English).

The word /ˌrekəˈmend/ has three syllables, /rek/, /ə/, and /mend/. In phonetic notation, you are not required to put a divider before unstressed syllables, although you can use a dot; if you do, the notation is /ˌrek.əˈmend/.

Can words have more than one stressed syllable? No and yes. The general theory is that all words have exactly one syllable with primary stress, but some words also have secondary stress on another syllable. For example, in /ˌrek.əˈmend/, /mend/ has primary stress and /rek/ has secondary stress. For very long words, (like extraliterary) it's possible to have two syllables with secondary stress: /ˌek.strəˈlɪt.əˌrer.i/ (American pronunciation; I don't know what source you used for your phonetic notation, so my notation may not agree with your source's.)

  • Axiomatic to the very definition of a syllable is that must contain a single vocalic nucleus, a role on occasion played by other actors than the simple monophthongs that come first to mind. These include diphthongs you mention and syllabic consonants as in button, kitten, bottle, rhythm, acre and in “paralinguistic” “words” (ie, written onomatopoeia) like psst, shh, bzzt. But because rising diphthongs as in yet, wick aren’t usually counted as such, this alas precludes consideration of tautosyllabic triphthongs in words like wow, yay as the leading semi-vowel glides don’t count. – tchrist Mar 23 '18 at 13:25
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Yes, syllables can have more than one vowel. For example, consider the mighty bee, hopping from flower to flower.

As far as multiple stressed syllables, how about "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". I know it's an informal word, but is used occasionally. Regardless, long words may have multiple stressed syllables.

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    Oops! Misinterpreted the use of "vowel". – m_a_s Mar 23 '18 at 12:53
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    As you have yourself note by your comment, this is not answering the question. Please either edit your contribution so that it does indeed answer the question, or else delete this answer yourself. – tchrist Mar 23 '18 at 13:27

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