What is a syllable?


Do you understand the meaning of the word "syllable"?

As the name implies, a syllable is a "sound turning point."
In English, it is called Syllable.

Understanding syllables is very important in learning English!
This is because the idea of syllables is different between Japanese and English.
In this article, I will explain about English syllables!

Japanese syllables are very simple

First, before we dive into the explanation of English syllables, let's reaffirm our native language, Japanese.

Please be assured.
Japanese is very simple.
This is because Japanese pronounces each note in units of "beats", so it is OK to count them almost literally.

Take, for example, the word "school".
In this case, it is divided into 4 beats.
It is "ga-tsu-ko-u".

To give another example, "credit card" is in katakana English, but it is divided into eight parts, "ku-re-ji-tsu-to-ka-do".

In short, the idea is the same for both Katakana English and Japanese words.
If you think of the number of letters as the number of beats, there is basically no mistake.
It's easy to understand because even a small "tsu" or a stretched "-" will be one beat.

English syllables are pronunciation-based, not spelled

So how are English syllables different from Japanese syllables?
Rather than how different, the way of thinking is different in the first place.

In English, "syllables" are pronounced as a unit.
In other words, in English, one beat is divided by "a group of sounds including vowels" instead of letters.
The difficulty is that it is hard to imagine the unity of sound.

What is important here is that vowels are not "spelling vowels" but "pronunciation vowels".

By counting how many vowels there are in a word on a pronunciation basis, you can see how many syllables there are (the spelling vowels are a group that includes "a, e, i, o, u, y". Divided into).

Syllables can also be found in dictionaries, and syllable breaks are often indicated by "・" between spellings.

If you explain it, it will become more and more complicated, so let's explain it with an example.

1 syllable

cake / k eɪ k /

Looking at the phonetic symbols, there are two vowels, / e / and / ɪ /, but when two vowels are connected, we say "diphthong" and think of it as a group of sounds.
In Japanese, "ke-ki" has 3 beats, but in English, it has 1 syllable.

Also, when you look at the spelling, it looks like there is a vowel because it has an e at the end, but this e is a character that is not pronounced by saying "silent e" in phonics.

2 syllables

Au ・ gust / ˈ ɔː g ʌ st /

Looking at the phonetic symbols, there are two vowels, / ɔː / and / ʌ /, so there are two syllables.
In Japanese, the sound of "-" to be stretched is one beat, so "O" is two beats, but in English, the long vowel is counted as one syllable.

3 syllables

straw ・ ber ・ ry / ˈstr ɑː b e r i /

In Japanese it is read as "strawberry" and it is literally divided into 6 syllables, while in English it is divided into 3 syllables.
The part that corresponds to the "stro" is one syllable so far because it contains only one vowel in English.

Up to three consonants are lined up like / str /, but consonants alone do not make up a syllable.

4 syllables

en ・ ter ・ tain ・ ment / ˌ e nt ɚ ˈt eɪ nm e nt /

entertainment is called "entertainment" in Japanese, but there are literally nine Japanese beats: "e-n-ta--te-i-me-n-to".
In contrast, English is divided into four syllables as described above.

In this way, there are as many syllables as there are sounds, including the pronunciation of vowels.

Phonetic symbols can be difficult to read if you are not familiar with them, but many of them are the same as spellings, so knowing them will help you when studying pronunciation.
If you come across a word you don't understand, get in the habit of looking up the phonetic symbols while looking up the meaning in the dictionary.

[Related articles]
・ How useful are English phonetic symbols?

Pronunciation correction needs to be done syllable by syllable

When a Japanese person who is not accustomed to native English tries to study English pronunciation by himself, there are cases where it does not work because he applies the "Japanese syllable division method" that he is accustomed to.

This is one of the reasons why Japanese people cannot easily change English pronunciation to "native pronunciation".

For example, when it comes to pronunciation of food, in Japanese style, it is divided into three syllables, "fu ... do".
If you do so, the ending will be pronounced as "do", and it will finally become a typical example of Japanese and English.

In addition, English inflection is taken by vowels, but if you do not understand the vowels, it may cause inflections in strange places.
By understanding how to divide syllables, you will get closer to native English.

[Related article]
・ What is wrong with Katakana English?
・ Why is it not possible to wake up pronunciation in katakana notation?
・ What is the difference between "intonation and intonation", "accent and stress", and "tone"?

Summary: Understand English syllables and learn English as it is!

This time, I explained English and Japanese syllables. You can see how different the Japanese syllables we usually use and the English syllables are.
English syllables have relatively clear rules, so once you remember them, you can count them as "Oh, this word has four syllables."
If you are worried that you can't get rid of Japanese or English and your pronunciation doesn't improve, please focus on "syllables" from now on!

Discovering Sounds first teaches individual sounds based on phonetic symbols, then gradually lengthens words, sentences and syllables to teach how to pronounce them smoothly.
Even beginners of English can learn correct English pronunciation because they can systematically learn how to take inflections with vowels one by one from each syllable word.

If you are interested, please come to the trial lesson!
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