Click the picture to go to

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Importance of Syllables

One of the problems we hear in class is people eliminating syllables. For example, pronouncing the three syllable word "predator" [prƐ də tər] as the two syllable word “player” [ple: yər]. Here are some others we’ve heard in class:

  • “squirrel” [skwIr əl] and “school” [sku:l] (2 syllables reduced to 1)
  • “minimum” [mI nə məm] and “memo” [mƐ mo] (3 syllables reduced to 2)
  • “exterior” [Ɛks ti:r i ər] and “extra” [Ɛks črə] (4 syllables reduced to 2)

This is a problem. If you have the wrong number of syllables, it will be difficult for the listener to understand what you’re trying to say.

The closest analogy I can think of offhand is the difference between 恵子、結構、and 傾向. Context can help the listener, so that 恵子です will seldom be misinterpreted as 結構です, but it’s still an obvious error that you want to avoid.

Please use English well!