I just looked up the syllable description of the words linear and nuclear. On that website, it says linear has 3 syllables and nuclear 2. This is despite the 'ear' of both words being pronounced the same (and the stresses being the same, for instance, I checked in the CMU dictionary).

Is there a reason for this? Is the website wrong?

In general I feel I don't know how to split words in syllables when they contain 'ear'. For instance for linear and nuclear I wouldn't know what to say (although I would have bet both had 3 syllables). On the other hand in words like 'rearrange' it is pretty clear (clear, another of our friends) that the e and the a should belong to different syllables.

  • 9
    The website is wrong – Jim Nov 23 '19 at 20:28
  • 1
    Even Jimmy Carter pronounced "nuclear" as three syllables. (As to 45, I can't say.) – Hot Licks Nov 23 '19 at 21:48
  • 3
    Nuclear is at least 2½ syllables, depending on how clear gets pronounced; but the final /r/ is normally syllabic even when going for a monosyllabic clear. Which 3 syllables of nuclear get pronounced is another matter. I've never heard linear pronounced with fewer than 3 syllables, though. – John Lawler Nov 23 '19 at 21:50
  • 1
    Ok, thank you, so the website was wrong after all – Damaru Nov 24 '19 at 0:03
  • 2
    The page you linked to seems to disagree with itself, in that it says nuclear has two syllables (which is wrong) and then in the section for rhyming words it says mononuclear has five syllables - unless they're saying an extra syllable mysteriously appears when the mono prefix is added. – nnnnnn Nov 24 '19 at 9:03

"Linear" is the right template—3 syllables. That said, saying "new-clear" is far better that saying "noo-kuler".

  • Nuclear - ˈ/njuːklɪə/ Doesn't it have two syllables, the second syllable composed of a diphthong? I seriously have this doubt. – Ram Pillai Apr 25 '20 at 5:56

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.