From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Juncture, in linguistics, is the manner of moving (transition) between two successive syllables in speech.[1] An important type of juncture is the suprasegmental phonemic cue by means of which a listener can distinguish between two otherwise identical sequences of sounds that have different meanings.[1]


There are several kinds of juncture, the most widely used typology of which is:

plus juncture
Also known as open juncture, this is subdivided into internal open juncture and external open juncture. It is the juncture that occurs at word boundaries.[2] In phonetic transcription open juncture is transcribed /+/, hence the name plus juncture.[2]
close juncture
Also known as a normal transition, this is a transition between segments (sounds) within a word.[2]
terminal juncture
Also known as falling,[3] clause terminal or terminal contour,[citation needed] this is the juncture at the end of a clause or utterance with falling pitch before a silence.[3]

Other less common typologies exist,[2] such as the division (favoured by American Structuralist linguists in the middle twentieth century) into plus, single bar, double bar, and double cross junctures, denoted /+/, /|/, /||/, and /#/ respectively.[4][5][6] These correspond to syllabification and differences in intonation, single bar being a level pitch before a break, double bar being an upturn in pitch and a break, and double cross being a downturn in pitch that usually comes at the end of an utterance.[5][6][7][8]

Examples from English[edit]

In English, a syllable break at the plus juncture sometimes distinguishes otherwise homophonic phrases.

A word boundary preceded or followed by a syllable break is called an external open juncture. If there is no break, so that words on either side of the juncture are run together, the boundary is called an internal open juncture.[2]

The distinction between open and close juncture is the difference between "night rate", /nt.rt/ with the open juncture between /t/ and /r/, and "nitrate", /n.trt/ with close juncture between /t/ and /r/.[2] In some varieties of English, only the latter involves an affricate.


In recreational linguistics, an oronym is a pair of phrases which are homophonic. When pronounced without a pause between words (internal open juncture), phrases which differ in meaning and spelling may share a similar pronunciation. An example is "ice cream" /aɪs+kriːm/ and "I scream" /aɪ+skriːm/ (which is employed in the chant "I scream; you scream; we all scream for ice cream" that is familiar to many English-speaking children.[11]). The label oronym was suggested by Gyles Brandreth and first published in his book The Joy of Lex (1980). The Two Ronnies comedy sketch "Four Candles" is entirely built around oronyms, including a taciturn customer's request for "fork handles" being misheard as "four candles".[12]

An older meaning of the word oronym, used in the context of topographical nomenclature, is: toponym of a mountain.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nicolosi, Harryman & Kresheck 2004, p. 166.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Skandera & Burleigh 2011, p. 62.
  3. ^ a b Crystal 2011, p. 238.
  4. ^ Rajimwale 2006, pp. 119–120.
  5. ^ a b Trask 1996, "double-bar juncture".
  6. ^ a b Trask 1996, "double-cross juncture".
  7. ^ Trask 1996, "single-bar juncture".
  8. ^ Malmkjaer 2002, p. 409.
  9. ^ Nasr 1997, p. 45.
  10. ^ Rajimwale 2006, pp. 119.
  11. ^ Goldstein 2010, p. 321.
  12. ^ "Four candles". Retrieved 28 Nov 2011.

Reference bibliography[edit]

  • Brandreth, Gyles (1980). The Joy of Lex: How to Have Fun with 860,341,500 Words. Quill. ISBN 978-0-688-01397-4.
  • Crystal, David (2011). Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4443-5675-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Goldstein, E. Bruce (2010). Sensation and Perception. PSY 385 (8th ed.). Cengage Learning. ISBN 9780495601494.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Malmkjaer, Kirst (2002). "phonemics". Linguistics Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415222105.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Nasr, Raja T. (1997). Applied English Phonology: For Esl/Efl Teachers. University Press of America. ISBN 9780761806417.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Nicolosi, Lucille; Harryman, Elizabeth; Kresheck, Janet (2004). "Juncture". Terminology of Communication Disorders: Speech-Language-Hearing (5th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 9780781741965.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Rajimwale, Sharad (2006). "Juncture". Handbook Of Linguistic Terms. Sarup & Sons. ISBN 9788176256483.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Skandera, Paul; Burleigh, Peter (2011). "Lesson Six". A Manual of English Phonetics and Phonology: Twelve Lessons with an Integrated Course in Phonetic Transcription. Narr Studienbücher (2nd ed.). Gunter Narr Verlag. ISBN 9783823366652.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Trask, R. L. (1996). A Dictionary of Phonetics and Phonology. Routledge. ISBN 9781134831005. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Scheer, Tobias (2010). "American structuralism: juncture phonemes". A Guide to Morphosyntax-Phonology Interface Theories: How Extra-Phonological Information is Treated in Phonology since Trubetzkoy’s Grenzsignale. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783110238631.