35: Putting sounds into syllables is like putting toppings on a burger

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Aug 16 2019 29 mins   1.1k
Sometimes a syllable is jam-packed with sounds, like the single-syllable word “strengths”. Other times, a syllable is as simple as a single vowel or consonant+vowel, like the two syllables in “a-ha!” It’s kind of like a burger: you might pack your burger with tons of toppings, or go as simple as a patty by itself on a plate, but certain combinations are more likely than others. For example, an open-face burger, with only the bottom half of the bun, is less weird than a burger with only the top half. In this episode of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about syllables. Why aren’t there any English words that begin with “ng”, even though Vietnamese is perfectly happy to have them? Why do Spanish speakers pronounce the English word “Sprite” more like “Esprite”? Why did English speakers re-analyze Greek helico-pter into heli-copter? Plus more about how different languages prefer different things in their syllable-burgers and what happens when these preferences collide. This month’s bonus episode is about metaphors! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to the metaphors episode and 29 previous bonus episodes. https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm Today is the final day for two things related to Because Internet, Gretchen’s book about internet linguistics (which is out now and you can get it!). 1. Send us your questions about Because Internet, internet language, or the process of writing a book for a special bonus behind the scenes Q&A episode about the book! 2. Join our new “ling-phabet” tier on Patreon by August 15th in any timezone (you may get a few hours into August 16th if you’re lucky!) and get a signed Because Internet bookplate sticker with your name on it in the mail! https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm For links and things mentioned in this episode: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/187039068846/lingthusiasm-episode-35-putting-sounds-into