SYLLABICATION, also syllabification. The division of a word into SYLLABLES: either phonologically, in terms of speech sounds, or orthographically, in terms of letters. In orthographic syllabication, there may be correspondences with spoken syllables (native into na·tive) and/or with elements of morphological and etymological significance (nat·ive from Latin natus born, and -ive). The two kinds of division do not always correspond. Neither syllable boundaries in speech nor morphological/etymological elements are always clear-cut, and the fact that the same word may be pronounced differently in different varieties of English can mean a different number of syllables and different syllable boundaries: medicine generally pronounced with two syllables in BrE and three in AmE. Nevertheless, orthographic syllabication is straightforward in many words, as with the division of postman into post·man, which satisfies phonetic, morphological, and etymological criteria in both BrE and AmE. Such a word as structure is more problematic; both BrE and AmE phonology dictate struc·ture, while morphology and etymology require struct·ure. It has been claimed that when such a conflict occurs, AmE favours the phonetic and BrE the morphological and etymological. Rules for syllabication are given in various style manuals: for BrE, Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press Oxford (1893; 39th edition, 1983); for AmE, The Chicago Manual of Style (13th edition, 1982). See HYPHEN.
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