1. Stacy C
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    [Stolen From Another Forum] How Many Syllables in Fire?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Stacy C, Jun 10, 2015.

    I'd never thought about it, but the word 'fire' seems too short for more than one syllable, but it seems to be pronounced fy-er most of the time.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say 2
    Fi-re
     
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  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm.. Interesting. I think it may also depend on how strongly one's regional pronunciation or idiolect puts a Y in the middle of that diphthong. I tend to use no Y, but the /ai/ is definitely rather longish compared to other diphthongs, for me. I say fai-r but many say fai-yer and the second pronunciation feels very 2 syllable-ie where the first one is arguable either way.
     
  4. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    And in the US South, it's 'fahr', one syllable.
     
  5. Vellidragon
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    In the written sense, Fire has one syllable. There are rules for syllabification, though they can be complicated. It's fairly reasonable not to split the written word "fire" into "fi" and "re" as it would suggest that the word is pronounced "fy-ree", whereas "liar" is able to have two syllables (li-ar). Phonetically, I would pronounce them at the same length, but I'm not sure if there is a clear definition of a "phonetic" syllable in English.

    Which doesn't help at all with how to treat it in poetry. I am guessing either might work. Differences in regional pronunciation can easily mess up poetry in general.
     
  6. No-Name Slob
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    Two.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's one or two, depending on the context. Listen to songs that use the word. Some will say it as one syllable if it fits the rhythm or rhyme, and others will use two, for the same reasons.

    There is no right answer to this. Make it fit into the rhythm and you're good. :)
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    If you compare 'fire' to 'fir' it sounds like two but phonetically, (precluding accents), in three dictionaries I just looked in, it is shown as one syllable.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would've said depends on the speaker and dialect, but the way it'd be taught to an EFL/ESL speaker, then I'd say it sounds like there are two syllables.

    The Cambridge Dictionary suggests /faɪər/ as one way to pronounce it. While this'd imply there's only one syllable, to me it still looks like there's supposed to be two faɪ and ər.

    It's interesting how to e.g. player and fire the suggested pronunciations are /ˈpleɪ.ər/ and /ˈlaɪ.ər/ respectively. Two syllables. The latter even has the same vowels.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    Player and fire don't have the same vowel sounds because the r changes the phonetics of player.

    Think of how one says the word flare. Tire, wire, desire, etc., are words with the same issue. 'are' and 'ire' are related vowel combinations, yet 'ire' sounds to the ear like two syllables.

    We want to say fi-er, but there is no r on the end of fire.

    English phonetics is one odd duck.
     
  11. Aaron DC
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    ire dire fire hire (lire, ma non parlo Italiano) mire pyre sire tire wire

    When writing poetry and looking for equal syllables, I'd typically match it to two.

    Looking for a buyer
    For this orange fire
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    Poetry has some leeway there. But when I compare buyer and fire, to my ear they don't sound like exact syllable matches.
     
  13. BayView
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    Yeah, in my accent, player and fire are pretty close rhymes. Fire is definitely two syllables for me. The only way I can make it one syllable is to pretend I'm from the deep southern US.
     
  14. BayView
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    Oooh, @Aaron DC has a better one. Buyer and Fire completely rhyme for me.
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    As I wrote there, the latter has the same vowel sounds (liar).
    faɪər
    ˈlaɪ.ər

    I brought up player because it was another word I could think of which has what sounds like a diphtong (eɪ) and then another vowel (ə), yet has two syllables.

    As for the pronunciations, they are from the Cambridge Dictionary, so I can't help if that's how they've dediced to illustrate the sounds. (Probably went for the most standard variation).

    ETA: @BayView It seems buyer has the same vowels too: baɪ.ər

    And interestingly, two syllables.

    I'm taking these from the British side of the dictionary, but it does offer American pronunciations too.
     
  16. Aaron DC
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    Classic "queen's" English pronounces power (pow-er) as pah, if my Indian, "I speak the Queen's English" high school teacher is any indication.

    If you open your mouth and say the word without moving your lips (ermmmm diction directions not my forte) but ok speak in a "posh" voice, the fire (fah) as single syllable (and power = pah, etc) make more sense (?).

    As a convict nation resident, I say down with single syllable words ending in ire.
     
  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Aaron DC I really haven't a clue. :D I'm constantly amazed at the subtle differences native English speakers can produce, especially with vowels. My mother-tongue has none of that. If you put a and i together, there's only one way to pronounce it correctly. :p
     
  18. No-Name Slob
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    I love the accent you're referring to.
     
  19. Aaron DC
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    Now that I am a bit more awake, you say the word without moving lips, to go from pow-er to pah, and keeping both lips and tongue still to go from fi-er to fah. Apologies for the long-winded drivel, been an early morning.
     
  20. AlcoholicWolf
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    Fire has one syllable.

    The difference with liar is that there is a distinct pronunciation of a "y" sound, whereas with fire there isn't, unless you happen to have a dialect that does so... which I can't imagine being common.

    With liar, you have two vowels together which need to be separated by another sound to make them discernible. So it become ly-ar. (The i and the a are now distinguishable) With fire you have the I on its own so there is no need to make a distinction between the I and the R with a "y" sound as there would be no hidden sound.
     
  21. Aaron DC
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    Liar and fire sound exactly the same in Australia.

    That's ~25M people common.
     
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  22. AlcoholicWolf
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    Well, I never liked that accent anyway.
     
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  23. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Too bloody right mate. It's a corker that one eh? You bloody ripper.

    I love foreign accents. :love:
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    To be fair, in the US South, most words are one syllable. :superlaugh:
     
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  25. plothog
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    In England, fire tends to have a 'y' sound.
    Even primary school kids know liar rhymes with fire, and have a tendency to utter the phrase, 'Liar, liar, pants on fire.'
     

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