Breaking up words into syllables. PLEASE explain!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by anna9868, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. anna9868

    anna9868 Cohort

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    Feb 26, 2010

    Can anyone give me a good resource (preferably for teachers) of how to break up words into syllables in English? I keep having slip-offs with that topic when I help out my son with his spelling.

    When I asked his 2nd grade teacher she told me they use these rules:
    Divide the compound word between words: rain-bow
    Divide a word between double consonants: dip-ping, run-ning
    Divide a word between the base word and its ending: writ-ing, beard-ed

    Well, that doesn't help us with a word like ANOTHER (in his last homework). BTW, how many syllables are in this word? My paper dictionary tells me 2: an*other, and on the internet I find 3: an*oth*er

    Thanks, Anna
    PS: I grew up in Russia learning the rules of dividing that language, but the rules seems to be different in 2 languages
     
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  3. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Feb 26, 2010

    When I was in elementary school, we were taught to clap out the word as we say it (pronouncing it properly). Every clap was a syllable, so we could separate the word that way. So the word "another" has 3 syllables.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 26, 2010

    another has 3 syllables.

    From multiple sources:
    1. To find the number of syllables:
    ---count the vowels in the word,
    ---subtract any silent vowels, (like the silent "e" at the end of a word or the second vowel when two vowels a together in a syllable)
    ---subtract one vowel from every dipthong, (diphthongs only count as one vowel sound.)
    ---the number of vowels sounds left is the same as the number of syllables.
    The number of syllables that you hear when you pronounce a word is the same as the number of vowels sounds heard. For example:
    The word "came" has 2 vowels, but the "e" is silent, leaving one vowel sound and one syllable.
    The word "outside" has 4 vowels, but the "e" is silent and the "ou" is a diphthong which counts as only one sound, so this word has only two vowels sounds and therefore, two syllables.

    2. Divide between two middle consonants.
    Split up words that have two middle consonants. For example:
    hap/pen, bas/ket, let/ter, sup/per, din/ner, and Den/nis. The only exceptions are the consonant digraphs. Never split up consonant digraphs as they really represent only one sound. The exceptions are "th", "sh", "ph", "th", "ch", and "wh".

    3. Usually divide before a single middle consonant.
    When there is only one syllable, you usually divide in front of it, as in:
    "o/pen", "i/tem", "e/vil", and "re/port". The only exceptions are those times when the first syllable has an obvious short sound, as in "cab/in".

    4. Divide before the consonant before an "-le" syllable.
    When you have a word that has the old-style spelling in which the "-le" sounds like "-el", divide before the consonant before the "-le". For example: "a/ble", "fum/ble", "rub/ble" "mum/ble" and "thi/stle". The only exception to this are "ckle" words like "tick/le".

    5. Divide off any compound words, prefixes, suffixes and roots which have vowel sounds.
    Split off the parts of compound words like "sports/car" and "house/boat". Divide off prefixes such at "un/happy", "pre/paid", or "re/write". Also divide off suffixes as in the words "farm/er", "teach/er", "hope/less" and "care/ful". In the word "stop/ping", the suffix is actually "-ping" because this word follows the rule that when you add "-ing" to a word with one syllable, you double the last consonant and add the "-ing".
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 26, 2010

    A shortcut way is to place your hand under your chin as you pronounce a word. Every time your chin drops, that is another syllble. Also, every syllable must have a vowel, or vowel sound.
     
  6. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Feb 26, 2010

    Side question: what value is there in knowing how to syllabicate words?
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 26, 2010

    To make it easier to break down spellings into common patterns within syllables.
     
  8. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Feb 26, 2010

    Well, you can break words down into smaller parts. Many science terms are long and complex, but have common stems. If you can break them down, and you understand stem meanings, you can understand the meanings of longer words.
     
  9. teach24iam

    teach24iam Comrade

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    Feb 26, 2010

    Syllables...

    One of the valuable reasons for me as a Kindergarten teacher to do syllables is to get the children to start using inventive spelling. When they break it into syllables they can write what they hear and start spelling words phonetically.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 26, 2010

    Another benefit of being able to syllabify words is for dividing a word between lines. If the word is, for example, floccinaucinihilipilification (and, yes, that's a made-up word, but it's not one *I* made up), and it won't fit on the line, you're faced with a nasty-looking gap in the line:

    ... Dictionaries serve up a number of peculiar words,
    according to TeacherGroupie, who cites among her favorites
    the unlikely-looking British nonce word
    floccinaucinihilipilification. This word was invented in the
    nineteenth century by some bored schoolboys.

    Worse, if the text is justified margin to margin as in newspaper text, you may end up with ickily spread-out words and/or letters - I can't seem to get the A to Z word processor quite to duplicate the result, since it invariably reduces two or more spaces to one, without a bit of fiddling that will show up if anyone quotes my text in a reply, but this gives the general flavor:


    The Oxford English Dictionary, first edition, reports
    that nnnnnnn this nnnnnnn ungainly nnnnnnnn word
    f l o c c i n a u c i n i h i l i p i l i f i .c .a .t .i .o .n
    was invented from four Latin adverbs.


    Breaking the word into syllables produces a much more attractive result:

    The adverbs of which the word floccinaucinihilipilifi-
    cation consists are flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili.

    The word another certainly has three syllables, so it COULD be rendered in print as

    anoth-
    er

    with the break before the last syllable, but it's easier to read with the break after the first syllable

    an-
    other

    - that is, between the morphemes an and other.

    I will gently suggest that the suffix in stopping remains -ing, not -ping: the suffix is part of morphology rather than of syllabication as such, or we would have to speak of the -s in cats as needing to be a separate syllable as well as a distinct morpheme. What's more, the fact that we use a <p> in stopping is dictated by the root, not by the suffix.
     
  11. Arbie

    Arbie Rookie

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    Feb 26, 2010

    You need to know how to break words into syllables so that when you are writing or typing and you can't get the whole word on the line, you break it into syllables.
     
  12. anna9868

    anna9868 Cohort

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    Feb 27, 2010

    Thank you, Czacza, that looks like a nice set of rules.

    The problem with "the clapping out or when you chin goes down" approach is that it may be good for a 2nd graders, whereas I want to be sure I know the rules, so I can help kids from elementary to high school level.
     
  13. anna9868

    anna9868 Cohort

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    Feb 27, 2010

    I'm curious, at what grade do teachers generally tell that to students?

    I was trying to tell that to my 2nd grader when I see him trying to squeeze a long word at the end of a line, but he didn't believe it (mom's authority, you know :)
    So, I emailed his teacher to ask if syllabication is used to splitting up a word, she only mentioned using it for sounding out unfamiliar words part.
     
  14. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Feb 27, 2010

    My 4th graders are required to correctly hyphenate words at a line break.
     

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