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3.3: Syllabic Consonants

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  • We defined a syllable as a peak of sonority surrounded by less sonorous sounds. In most cases, the peak of sonority, that is, the nucleus of a syllable, is a vowel because vowels are the most sonorous sounds. But in some conditions, a sonorous consonant, a nasal or a liquid, can be the nucleus of a syllable. In those cases, the consonant is transcribed with a special diacritic to indicate its syllabic status.
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    Check Yourself

    1. The video indicated that the word funnel can be transcribed to indicate that the second syllable consists of a syllabic [l̩]. The word elbow is also spelled with the letters ‘el’. Say the two words to yourself several times. Which is the correct transcription for elbow?

    • [l̩boʊ].
    • [ɛlboʊ].

    2. The words human and manager both contain a syllable that is spelled with the letters ‘man’. In which word does that syllable contain a syllabic [n̩]?

    • Human.
    • Manager.

    3. In the word umbrella, is the [m] syllabic?

    • Yes.
    • No.