Syllable components
as a directed graph
Suprasegmentals - some contrastive elements of speech cannot be easily analyzed as distinct segments but rather belong to a syllable or word. These elements are called suprasegmental, and include intonation and stress. In some languages nasality and vowel harmony are considered suprasegmental or prosodic by some phonologists.

1. Phonological syllable

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the period . marks syllable breaks, such as in the word "astronomical" /æs.trə.nɑ.mɪ.kəl/.
In practice, however, IPA transcription is typically divided into words by spaces, and often these spaces are also understood to be syllable breaks. In addition, the stress mark ˈ is placed immediately before a stressed syllable, and when the stressed syllable is in the middle of a word, the stress mark also marks a syllable break, for example in the word "understood" /ʌndə'stʊd/.
When a word space comes in the middle of a syllable (that is, when a syllable spans words), a tie bar  can be used for liaison, as in the French combination les amis / The liaison tie is also used to join lexical words into phonological words, for example hot dog /ˈhɒddɒɡ/.

A. Typical model of syllable structure - in the typical theory of syllable structure, the general structure of a syllable (σ) consists of three segments. These segments are grouped into two components:

Onset (ω) - consonant or consonant cluster, obligatory in some languages, optional or even restricted in others

Rime (ρ) - right branch, contrasts with onset, splits into nucleus and coda
  • Nucleus (ν) - vowel or syllabic consonant, obligatory in most languages
  • Coda (κ) - consonant, optional in some languages, highly restricted or prohibited in others
Segmental model for cat and sing

The syllable is usually considered right-branching, i.e. nucleus and coda are grouped together as a "rime" and are only distinguished at the second level.
The nucleus is usually the vowel in the middle of a syllable. The onset is the sound or sounds occurring before the nucleus, and the coda (literally 'tail') is the sound or sounds that follow the nucleus. They are sometimes collectively known as the shell. The term rime covers the nucleus plus coda. In the one-syllable English word cat, the nucleus is a (the sound that can be shouted or sung on its own), the onset c, the coda t, and the rime at. This syllable can be abstracted as a consonant-vowel-consonant syllable, abbreviated CVC. Languages vary greatly in the restrictions on the sounds making up the onset, nucleus and coda of a syllable, according to what is termed a language's phonotactics.

Although every syllable has supra-segmental features, these are usually ignored if not semantically relevant, e.g. in tonal languagesTone (τ) - may be carried by the syllable as a whole or by the rime

B. Grouping of components in some theories of phonology, syllable structures are displayed as tree diagrams (similar to the trees found in some types of syntax). Not all phonologists agree that syllables have internal structure; in fact, some phonologists doubt the existence of the syllable as a theoretical entity.
There are many arguments for a hierarchical relationship, rather than a linear one, between the syllable constituents. One hierarchical model groups the syllable nucleus and coda into an intermediate level, the rime. The hierarchical model accounts for the role that the nucleus+coda constituent plays in verse (i.e., rhyming words such as cat and bat are formed by matching both the nucleus and coda, or the entire rhyme), and for the distinction between heavy and light syllables, which plays a role in phonological processes such as, for example, sound change in Old English scipu and wordu.

Hierarchical model for cat and sing

Body or core - in some traditional descriptions of certain languages, the syllable is considered left-branching, i.e. onset and nucleus group below a higher-level unit, called a "body" or "core". 

left branch, contrasts with coda, splits into onset and nucleus

Rime - the rime or rhyme of a syllable consists of a nucleus and an optional coda. It is the part of the syllable used in most poetic rhymes, and the part that is lengthened or stressed when a person elongates or stresses a word in speech.
The rime is usually the portion of a syllable from the first vowel to the end. For example, /æt/ is the rime of all of the words atsat, and flat. However, the nucleus does not necessarily need to be a vowel in some languages. For instance, the rime of the second syllables of the words bottle and fiddle is just /l/, a liquid consonant.
Just as the rime branches into the nucleus and coda, the nucleus and coda may each branch into multiple phonemes. Eastern European languages can have more than two consonants at the beginning or end of the syllable. In English, the onset, nucleus, and coda may all have two phonemes, as in the word flouts: [fl] in the onset, the diphthong [aʊ] in the nucleus, and [ts] in the coda.
Rime and rhyme are variants of the same word, but the rarer form rime is sometimes used to mean specifically syllable rime to differentiate it from the concept of poetic rhyme. This distinction is not made by some linguists and does not appear in most dictionaries.

C = consonant, V = vowel, optional components are in parentheses.
syllable =
+ rhyme
C(C)V(V)(C)(C) =
+ V(V)(C)(C)
V(V)(C)(C) =
+ V(V)(C)(C)

Branching nucleus for pout and branching coda for pond

heavy syllable is generally one with a branching rime, i.e. it is either aclosed syllable that ends in a consonant, or a syllable with a branching nucleus, i.e. a long vowel or diphthong. The name is a metaphor, based on the nucleus or coda having lines that branch in a tree diagram.
In some languages, heavy syllables include both VV (branching nucleus) and VC (branching rime) syllables, contrasted with V, which is a light syllable. In other languages, only VV syllables are considered heavy, while both VC and V syllables are light. Some languages distinguish a third type of superheavy syllable, which consists of VVC syllables (with both a branching nucleus and rime) or VCC syllables (with a coda consisting of two or more consonants) or both.
In moraic theory, heavy syllables are said to have two moras, while light syllables are said to have one and superheavy syllables are said to have three. Japanese phonology is generally described this way. 

2. Foot 

A. Definition - the foot is the basic metrical unit that forms part of a line of verse in most Western traditions of poetry, including English accentual-syllabic verse and the quantitative meter of classical ancient Greek and Latin poetry
The unit is composed of syllables, the number of which is limited, with a few variations, by the sound pattern the foot represents. The most common feet in English are the iambtrocheedactyl, and anapest. Contrasting with stress-timed languages such as English, in syllable-timed languages such as French, a foot is a single syllable.
The lines of verse are classified according to the number of feet they contain, e.g. pentameter. However some lines of verse are not considered to be made up of feet, e.g. hendecasyllable.
The English word "foot" is a translation of the Latin term pes, plural pedes. The foot might be compared to a measure in musical notation.
The foot is a purely metrical unit; there is no inherent relation to a word or phrase as a unit of meaning or syntax, though the interplay between these is an aspect of the poet's skill and artistry.

B. Classical meterbelow are listed the names given to the poetic feet by classical metrics. The feet are classified first by the number of syllables in the foot (disyllables have two, trisyllables three, and tetrasyllables four) and secondarily by the pattern of vowel lengths (in classical languages) or syllable stresses (in English poetry) which they comprise.
The following lists describe the feet in terms of vowel length (as in classical languages). Translated into syllable stresses (as in English poetry), 'long' becomes 'stressed' ('accented'), and 'short' becomes 'unstressed' ('unaccented'). For example, an iamb, which is short-long in classical meter, becomes unstressed-stressed, as in the English word "betray".


Macron and breve notation: ¯ = stressed/long syllable, ˘ = unstressed/short syllable
iamb (or iambus or jambus)
trocheechoree (or choreus)


anapest, antidactylus
cretic, amphimacer

3. Word stress

A. Definition - when a word has many syllables, one of them is always pronounced more strongly. This is called word stress, and we say that the syllable is stressed
Word-stress in disyllabic and polysyllabic words may be defined as a great of prominence given to one or more of its syllables.
In English as well as in Bulgarian this greater degree of prominence is affected mainly by greater force of articulation therefore word-stress in both languages is characterized as force stress or dynamic stress. Phonemes in stressed syllables are louder more distinct and definite in their quality than the same phonemes in unstressed syllables.

Compare: import [im'pɔ:t] - внасям
                 import ['impɔ:t] – внос

The vowel [ɔ:] is the stressed syllable is louder, longer, more distinct and definite than the same vowel in ['impɔ:t]
The same holds true for the sound [i] in ['impɔ:t].
In English as in Bulgarian, word-stress performs form distinctive function- форморазличителна функция на изречинието.
e.g.: било and било
export['ekspɔ:t]- [i'kspɔ:t]

B. Positional characteristic of the English word-stress
In English the stress is relatively free that is it may rest on any syllable in different words.
Bulgarian stress is also free. It can rest on any syllable and on different morphological elements- ходя, седя. As to the force of the stress there are two degrees of word stress generally distinguished in English words of four or more syllables: primary or strong stress and secondary or weak stress. The other syllables are said to be unstressed. Ex: examination
There is a strong tendency in English to stress the initial syllable of a word unless this syllable is a prefix. Thus in most words of two syllables the stress falls on the first syllable e.g ready ['redi]. In disyllabic words with a prefix which has lost its meaning the stress falls on the second syllable that is on the root syllable e.g begin[bi'gin]. In three syllable words the stress falls usually on the first syllable although there are words with a stress on the second syllable e.g cinema ['sinemə] but October[ɔk'toubə]. The stress on the third syllable from the end is especially typical of polysyllabic verbs with suffixes – ize, -fy, -ate  e.g. appreciate[ə'pri:ʃieit]
Some suffines attracted the stress onto themselves e.g. employee[emplɔi'i:]
There are suffines which do not influence the stress e.g. –er{worker}

C. The function of the sentence stress
1. to single out words in the sentence according to their relative semiotic importance.
2. to provide bases for the rhythmical structure of the sentence

ex. The Island seemed very far away. These words are stressed because they are semantically the most important.
Pitch melody and sentence stress are the most important components of intonation because it is chiefly thanks to them that the meaning of the sentence can be expressed.

D. How to regulate the distribution of sentence stress?
1. By dropping some stresses alternately.
If stressed syllables succeed one another in connected speech, we usually drop some stresses.
e.g.   The |big brown |bear ate |ten white `mice.
2. By shifting the placement of word stress
Words with two stresses ( including compound words ) may lose the first when closely preceded by another stressed syllable or they may lose the second when closely followed  by another stressed syllable.
e.g.       |John can |speak Chi`nese.              

             The |Chinese |people are |hard |working `people.

4. Rhythm

A. Definition - rhythm is a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.
In linguistics, rhythm or isochrony is one of the three aspects of prosody, along with stress and intonation. Languages can be categorized according to whether they are syllable-timed, mora-timed, or stress-timed. Speakers of syllable-timed languages such as Spanish and Cantonese put roughly equal time on each syllable; in contrast, speakers of stressed-timed languages such as English and Mandarin Chinese put roughly equal time lags between stressed syllables, with the timing of the unstressed syllables in between them being adjusted to accommodate the stress timing.

B. Rhythmic categories - Narmour 1977 (cited in Winold 1975, describes three categories of prosodic rules that create rhythmic successions that are additive (same duration repeated), cumulative (short-long), or countercumulative (long-short). Cumulation is associated with closure or relaxation, countercumulation with openness or tension, while additive rhythms are open-ended and repetitive. Richard Middleton points out this method cannot account for syncopation and suggests the concept of transformation (Middleton 1990).

5. Intonation

In linguistics, intonation is variation of spoken pitch that is not used to distinguish words; instead it is used for a range of functions such as: 
- indicating the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, 
- signalling the difference between statements and questions, and between different types of questions, 
- focusing attention on important elements of the spoken message and also helping to regulate conversational interaction. 

It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation in some languages does distinguish words, either lexically or grammatically. (The term tone is used by some British writers in their descriptions of intonation, but this is to refer to the pitch movement found on the nucleus or tonic syllable in an intonation unit – see Intonation in English: British Analyses of English Intonation, below).

Although intonation is primarily a matter of pitch variation, it is important to be aware that functions attributed to intonation such as the expression of attitudes and emotions, or highlighting aspects of grammatical structure, almost always involve concomitant variation in other prosodic features. Crystal for example says that "...intonation is not a single system of contours and levels, but the product of the interaction of features from different prosodic systems – tonepitch-rangeloudnessrhythmicality and tempo in particular.“ 

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