Breaking doubled consonants into syllables

V raindoctor at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 30 05:56:03 UTC 2012

It is a trick used in orthography to specify that vowel before that
geminate is closed. That convention exists in German orthography as

In words like taxi, Texas, Vixen, oxen and buxom, < x > is a consonant
cluster and the vowel before < x > is closed. Apply the same trick to
geminated/doubled consonants.

fit vs fitting, fitted
hop vs hopping vs hoping
Jim vs Jimmy
Vic vs Vicky

In these words, the lax vowel is stressed.

commit vs committed
forget vs forgettable
occur vs occurring
target vs targeting (no double t)
vomit vs vomiting (no double t)
conquer vs conquering (no double r)
travel vs traveling (no double l in AmE)

In BrE, you see doubled l after unstressed vowels as well: travel vs travelling.

Double < ss >: it has its own convention. In old days, s between
vowels used to be voiced. That pattern changed over the time. So,
people started using <ss> orthographically to show that it is /s/ (cf.
massacre, mission, Russel, associate, assembly, ambassador, etc).

There is no length involved here: just a spelling trick to denote
pronunciations. Sonorants is a different ball game: in southern
dialects, sonorants usually join the next syllable.


On Sun, Aug 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Breaking doubled consonants into syllables
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Is there a general rule about breaking English words with doubled
> consonants into syllables, either in speaking or in writing?  For
> example, "canning" would be spelled and pronounced "can-ning", with
> an N sound beginning the second syllable.
> My speech says such a rule is not applicable to speaking.  For
> example, I don't say "stop-ping" but rather -- I think --
> "sto-pping".  (For my "canning" I can't tell.)
> But I assume it applies to writing.  Are their counter-examples?
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list