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Re: Metrical Stress, Feet, etc.

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 10, 2004, 15:44
TM> Ooh, well, the 'official' syllabification isn't official, isn't
TM> syllabification, and isn't English's. That is, there's no body that has
TM> decreed that this is the correct way, it's actually finding hyphenation
TM> points, and it differs on each side of the Atlantic.

There is no decreeing body for English.  True.  We have no Royal
Academy or whatever.  But we do have dictionaries and style guides
and usage panels; there is a fairly strong consensus on what constitutes
good formal written English, and given that I've read many examples
written in Rightpondia, I can confidently state that except for some
spelling differences it is pretty standard even across the Atlantic.

It may be that, as you say, British and U.S. dictionaries divide their
entry words differently; except for occasional browsing of the OED
at the local library, all of my experience is with U.S. dictionaries.

MJR> 'Round these here parts, I would
MJR> say that "tale" has about 1.5 syllables, being neither quite [tej:l] nor
MJR> ['tej@l] but somewhere in between.

TM> Yes, I've heard another American propose 1.5 syllables there.

Really?  And here I thought I was being original.  Phaugh.

TM> I really have no idea what half a syllable might be, though.

Well, clearly there's no such thing, but the idea that it's
somewhere between typical 1- and 2-syllable words feels right.
In reality, of course, it's either a single extra-long syllable
(that is, longer than most long ones), or two syllables with the second one
being exceeding short (that is, shorter than most short ones).  And probably
which of those it is varies from enunciation to enunciation.

In other parts of the country, it really is simply [tejl] or
['tej@l]; the latter version has a definite Texas feel to it for me.