Talk:List of the longest English words with one syllable

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Written vs. spoken language[edit]

I have no idea what this is good for when English are actually two different languages - spoken form has quite little what to do with written one. One can write that word also "sqwirld", it is just "another written English". (But, do you know, that quite long words without vowels exist in some languages? Even in the languages with practically phonetic transcription.) [68.94.242.235 20:10, 23 Sep 2004]

This page is worthy of an encyclopedia article, even if it is a little on the trivial side. It's interesting information, even if it is comparing apples and oranges to some degree. I've tried to explain the various caveats in the article, though you've pointed out several more, which I appreciate.
You're quite right: spoken and written English are quite different these days. A large part of this is due to the Great Vowel Shift and especially the prescriptivism of the early Modern English era. During this time, spelling gradually became less and less phonetic. I'll see what I can do about integrating these caveats into the article, though you are more than welcome to contribute to article yourself.
Fascinating point about long words without vowels. If you know any specific examples, please let me know either here on the talk page or on the article itself. Thanks, • Benc • 20:43, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Czech word čtvrthrst :-). Literal meaning is quarter of handful. One can create even quite long sentences without vowels. Very well known is a jawcracker strč prst skrz krk - stick a finger throught a neck. It is possible to create even longer senetnces, Czech language has quite many vowelless words. I can create now for example: Vlk z Vrt, vstrč prst skrz čtvrthrst v smrk. - Wolf from Vrty, stick a finger throught a quarter of handful into a spruce. It sounds a bit artificially but it is a legal Czech sentence :-). BTW, Czech language has also quite many words with one sylable (English too but English has a very simple structure :-)). One can create stories using only one-syllable words. Because Czech is a Slavic language, it is really difficult (but I am not sure whether Englishman can appreciate it). I can show you examples but I would probably break some copyright. Miraceti 06:17, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Wow! That's quite a word! So, how many syllables would čtvrthrst be? My hunch would be 3 - something like čət - vrə - thrəst (he says, cunningly avoiding interpretting the actual consonant sounds)... - IMSoP 19:03, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Actually, there are only two syllables: čtvrt-hrst. A consonant R (and also L) can be used as a vowel in Czech language. Pronounciation is really difficult (be glad, there is no Ř consonant as it is in my name:-)). Č is like "ch" in English word "chair", R is really rolling off (almost like Finnish R), remaining letters are hopefully clear. Miraceti 18:57, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Two syllables in squirrelled[edit]

Part of Talk:List of the longest English words with one syllable:

I'm think there are two syllables in squirrelled. [195.92.194.12 19:43, 23 Sep 2004]

Me too. [130.230.1.90 19:39, 23 Sep 2004]
Me three. However, speakers of some dialects, notably Canadian English, pronounce the word as a single syllable. • Benc • 20:43, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'd love to hear an mp3 or something of someone managing to say squirrelled with only one syllable, I'm not sure how it can be said that squirrelled is the longest english word with one syllable when the correct pronunciation of the word has 2 syllables. Suppafly 23:20, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
First of all, since I'm a descriptivist at heart, I don't believe that there is such a thing as a "correct" pronunciation. Everyone talks differently; no pronunciation is more "correct" than another except within the context of an established dialect (e.g., Received Pronunciation).
But I do agree that an mp3 would be an excellent addition to the article. It's a vital piece of evidence; many sources I've read claim that squirrelled is a single syllable, but I've never actually heard it being pronounced, myself. Any Canadians (or folks from anywhere else) out there who pronounce it in a single syllable willing to give it a shot? • Benc • 00:56, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I assume it sounds something like "skworld". — David Remahl 02:45, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Would it be unhelpful at this point for me to mention that I've never heard the word at all? ;-) In any case, as I look at it, my impulse would be to pronounce it as a single syllable, in the way that David Remahl suggests. What would be the alternative, "squirrel-lead"? func(talk) 03:02, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Well, when I try to pronounce "skworld", it comes out with a schwa, as in "skuh-world". I'm thinking some folks can do it in a single syllable, though. • Benc • 03:03, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Im Canadian, and I would concur with the the one syllable pronounciation, it would be like Skwurlld with the r-l combo being pushed into a slight extenstion over the second L. ( West Coast Canadian )Bob535 03:16, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'm Canadian, and I would pronounce it like "skworld" as well, but I don't think there is a schwa there (nor is there with squid, or squall, or anything else that starts with squ-). If there is a second syllable there, it's with the -ed at the end, I guess. Adam Bishop 03:21, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think it's possible for the schwa to appear in either (or neither) place, depending on the dialect: "skwir-uhld", "skuh-world", or "skworld". Or even the archaic-sounding "skwirl-ed" (long e instead of a schwa). I definitely use the "skuh-world" pronunciation, myself. I'm from the southeastern United States, by the way. • Benc • 04:11, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
As a Canadian, I'd pronounce it as two syllables, although I can imagine a possible pronunciation which would be one syllable. -Josh Raspberry, 3:38, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

What's the mystery? If you pronounce "squirrel" as one syllable, you'll pronounce "squirrelled" as one syllable. Enough people do the former: Merriam Websters Collegiate offers both a one-syllable and a two-syllable pronunciation for "squirrel". - Nunh-huh 04:16, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Well, not necessarily. Some people see that it's such a long word on paper and have a mental block, forcing themselves to split it into two syllables somehow. I think that's what I do. :-/
Anyway, I didn't really do a good job of stating the question in the first place, so I'll try to do so now. Would someone who pronounces squirrelled using a single syllable be willing to upload a recording of their pronunciation?. If you could, please pronounce the word three times into the microphone. (This is a standard linguistical technique to account for variations in pronunciation due to being at the beginning of a sentence.) If you have any technical questions, feel free to ask (e.g., how to convert and upload audio file). Many thanks, • Benc • 04:11, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Just in case anybody (Canadian etc.) is wondering where the "two syllable claim" comes from, let me explain that British English is one of the dialects in which squirrelled has two syllables. --Heron 09:20, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'm a South East Londoner (England). We'd pronounce it Skwih-rawled. [Before doffing our cap to you, leaping in the air, clicking our heels and then doing a jovial dance down a poorly lit cobbled alleyway.] --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 11:25, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)
Don't you rhyme it with "twirled" and then say "baton"? Anyhow, I would say that "squirrelled" rhymes exactly with "twirled" and "whirled" and "world" (the latter two being identical in my pronounciation). Just put "sk" on the front of "world" and there you are, stashed away in a hollow oak. I would say the vowel is a schwa, or whatever a schwa becomes when it's with an r. Sharkford 16:10, 2004 Sep 24 (UTC)
Rhotic, or r-colored. And I would say that the syllabic nucleus in squirrelled corresponds to orthographic <irr>, a syllabic [r] (symbolized in IPA as an [r] or upside-down [r] with a small vertical line underneath). The sounds I hear in the word are [s], [k], voiceless [w], syllabic [r], [l], and [d]: a single syllable. --Gelu Ignisque
"Squirls?" ...I guess if ya shoots 'em an' eats 'em in a squirl pah. ...Our President refers constantly to "terraced attacks" a terrifying thought for those living in fancy high-rise apartments: "Now they're smashing the flowerpots, and there goes your market umbrella, Agnes"... Wetman 05:40, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Oh, is that what he means? I thought he had a thing against tourists. ;-) --Heron 21:31, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)
The word squirrelled has two syllables, just like 'squirrel'. It's kinda difficult to pronounce because an r between two vowels, so it's often shortened to 'skwurl'. At anty rate 'skwurld' looks completely different, and what happened to the i anyway? It's clearly

skwi - ruhld, and even that's difficult. In some dialects maybe, but not the one I speak. It's silly to give it one when it should be two.

Oh look, it's a skwurl. I'd think it was some kind of

Three syllables in squirrelled[edit]

Part of Talk:List of the longest English words with one syllable:

I don't wish to be willfully perverse in raising this alternative, but to my untrained ear there are clearly 3 separate sounds in squirreled.

Sound one: scwi Sound two: rell Sound Three: duh

  • I don't think a trailing 'd' is usually, if ever, regarded as a syllable. You wouldn't argue, for example that "wood" has two syllables. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 12:52, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

You're right, Bodnotbod (Gawd bless yer, mite), and our own article on syllable agrees. A syllable has a vowel or quasi-vowel in the middle, with optional consonants on either side. However, from a purely phonotactic point of view, this does make it hard to justify calling squirrelled a single syllable, unless you classify the whole of uirrelle as a single quasi-vowel. Perhaps our "syllable" article needs to say that the definition of a syllable depends on the dialect of the speaker, if this is true. --Heron 13:05, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

What you think you say and what you actually say is usually different, so everyone who has commented here (including me) is probably wrong about how they pronounce this word. Even if one of us were to record it and post it, that pronunciation would not be normal speech, because we would be thinking about it and saying it more slowly and purposefully than in normal speech. Adam Bishop 16:40, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

That's probably true. I said above I pronounce it skwih-rawled. But I think, if I were saying it less consciously the L would go missing, and I also doubt that my Rs are very distinct. So it would probably be more like skwiwwed. Frightening thought, really. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 14:37, Sep 25, 2004 (UTC)

Well. I'm certainly not Canadian, and I pronounce it "skworld". RickK 06:15, Sep 25, 2004 (UTC)

I would also like to add that I pronounce it "skworld" and I'm in Seattle, Washington.--Trypsin 08:54, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

I'm a Minnesotan and I pronounce squirreled "squir-relled" or in IPA, [skʷəɹ.ɫd], with two syllables, but I might pronounce it as one syllable when speaking quickly. Gandalf1491 21:04, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Graphemes[edit]

Unsurprisingly, each long word contains multiple digraphs and trigraphs. That is, multiple letters are used as part of a single grapheme (e.g., spr).

This is incorrect, at least from any definition of "grapheme", "digraph", or "trigraph" that I've encountered.

A grapheme (as defined by David Crystal's Dictionary of Linguistics & Phonetics, and as used by general convention, I believe) is the "minimal contrastive unit in a writing system." So, a letter (e.g. "A", "p", etc.) is a grapheme, but multiple letters together (as in the given example of "spr") are still multiple graphemes

Also, for more than one grapheme/letter to be a digraph or trigraph, they have to represent a single sound. So, ll in "squirrelled" and ch in "scraunched" (among others) are digraphs, but there are no trigraphs in either one. There is no sequence of three letters/graphemes in either word which makes a single sound. EDIT: In my dialect at least; maybe I'm missing something that would be different in other dialects.

--JoshRaspberry 04:02, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Oops! You're absolutely right. (And I have Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, so I really should've known better.) I've fixed the sentence in question. Most of these words still contain digraphs, though. But scr certainly isn't a trigraph; it's three distinct graphemes. Thanks for pointing that out. • Benc • 04:38, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No problem. :) But there's still the problem of using "grapheme" to mean a multi-letter combination. I can't think of a conventional use of the term "grapheme" with which this would fit. A digraph is a digraph because it consists of two graphemes. Additionally, the example of qu as a digraph isn't correct, as the two letters represents the two sounds /k/+/w/. Unless we want to argue that English has in its phonemic inventory the single sound /kw/. What do you think of my edit? --JoshRaspberry 06:32, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Looks good. :-) • Benc • 06:40, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Other, longer words?[edit]

If we accept "skworld", what about other longer words that some dialect pronouces as one syllable? I know it isn't more letters, but some folk pronounce "Birmingham" as "brum" which reduces the syllable count from 3 to 1. And presumably if you have suffered the trials of visiting the place, you have been "Birminghamed" or "brumd"? --- SGBailey 14:01, 2004 Sep 24 (UTC)

Isn't pronouncing Birmingham as brum more along the lines of a contraction? Still, it's an interesting tidbit; it may be worth mentioning in a section of the article. I don't see why we would ever want to exclude a relevant topic in any of our articles. Examples like this one would need documented sources, though. And maybe even an mp3 or ogg recording of someone using the one-syllable pronunciation, repeated three times for clarity (see above). • Benc • 17:08, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I don't think you can read "Birmingham" as "Brum": they are two different words. AFAIK, Brum is short for Brummagem which is a dialect form of Birmingham.
Oh and while I'm here, the article says "Note, however, that in early Modern English, the -ed ending was frequently pronounced with a schwa or /I/ or /E/, resulting in another syllable. Even today, the e is pronounced as schwa (ə) in some dialects, resulting in an increased syllable count." Out of interest which modern dialects do this? None spring to mind. I did wonder if this was inserted by someone confused about the two-syllable pronunciation of "squirrelled", thinking that perhaps we in Merrie Olde England pronounced it "skwur-led". I may be wrong. — Trilobite (Talk) 22:40, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

More arguments against squirrelled[edit]

askoxford.com suprisingly makes no mention of squirrelled when they answer the question on their site.

It's also interesting to note that aside from sites that mirror content from wikipedia, a quick google search doesn't mention squirrelled as a single syllable english word, although there are sites that mention that it is sometimes pronounced as one by Canadian speakers.
I think the article should mention that squirrelled a contested single syllable word and stick to promoting the words that are commonly accepted as single syllable words. Suppafly 22:19, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Broughammed[edit]

What are the arguments against broughammed? The article just says it's "questionable on other grounds". Could we get some specifics? Factitious 01:51, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

The fact that it's a completely silly word? A more sensible answer is that most dictionaries that list brougham do so only as a noun, not a verb (e.g. the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the three Dictionary.com found), so broughammed is not a word according to these dictionaries. - IMSoP 13:53, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The latest edit showing that broughammed is equal to broomed is totally offbase. Not to mention that broughammed is definitely not a word recognized by any major dictionary. Suppafly 14:53, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Hi! I added that edit because I didn't actually understand how it was pronounced, until I found that brougham (a type of car) was pronounced 'broom' on a website, then extrapolated. How the hell *is* 'broughammed' supposedly easily pronounced in any dialect with one syllable, anyway? To me it still looks like "broggemed". Sadly I don't have the URL where I found that, but http://www.mail-archive.com/ql-users@quanta.org.uk/msg03454.html agrees with that pronunciation anyway. --Stevage 22:30, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
The broom pronounciation might be right, I've never heard it like that, but the pronunciation guides on a few sites indicate that is acceptible. Honestly though 'broughammed' is not a word and isn't present in any legitimate dictionary that I've found. I'd be all for someone removing it until it can be verified as being a real word. Not mention that neither 'broughammed' or 'brougham' are used in common speech. Suppafly 05:25, 2 December 2005 (UTC)


Schmaltzed[edit]

No to divert attention away from the war over how many syllables "squirreled" has [I say it depends on which side of the pond you are: in the US/Canada it would be one ("squirled") while in the remainder of the English speaking world it would be 2 ("squir-relled", also 11 letters!]...

...but how about "Schmaltzed"? It is mentioned in the OED according to one reference, but strangely is absent from Websters. Many yiddsish words are now in common usage.

The longest word with one syllable[edit]

The longest word with one syllable is "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" and brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Quarreled[edit]

I have to question this one. Quarreled is pronounced Kwo-rəlled. That's definitely 2 syllables. I tried it in American and I just managed to get rid of the 2nd syllable by dropping the r as well. Can somone outside the UK tell me that they pronounce it as one syllable? Big Moira 00:42, 18 November 2006 (UTC) very good :p

I too was drawn to this page by the apparent revelation that quarreled contains only one syllable...

It most certainly does not - it is pronounced /kwɔrəld/(or /kwɔːrəld/), and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, or is suffering from some sort of speech impediment...N^O^el 05:32, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm gonna remove it Big Moira 21:52, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

Pronouncing -ed as a separate syllable[edit]

As an individual taught strict American Midwestern enunciation in the mid 1950s I can vouch that -ed was often taught to be pronounced as a separate syllable within my family. The obvious caveat being that -ed words, as spoken rather than as taught, may have been very clipped and precise but not pronounced as an extra syllable. But the teaching was unambiguous. I now have a seven year old and I had been teaching him to pronounce -ed as a separate syllable, passing on my own understanding of the proper enunciation of words. Having read the entries on syllables I've since stopped and am trying to undo that cultural heritage. HeitzsoHeitzso 21:28, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

On the English Orthography[edit]

The issue with this page derives from the idea that a grapheme (essentially a letter,) represents a phoneme (sound.) While this is true in basic terms, e.g. /k/ is represented by <k> (for the purpose of this discussion, we will presume that /k/ is one sound when in reality it can be realised as a number of different sounds, or allophones,) the relationship between grapheme and phoneme is not so simple and therefore claiming a word is longer than another based of the number of graphemes it has becomes somewhat trivial. We must remember that English is written in the Roman alphabet which was created to write Latin, which has a different phoneme inventory, a different set of rules for morphophemic structure, and in fact is not directly related to English. Further to this, when the Roman alphabet was adopted (before the great vowel change,) English itself had a very different phoneme inventory, and the standardisation of the spelling system leaves us with a representation of how the English language used to sound. Many words should now be read as one word, rather than as a sum of their parts. E.g. <Knights> is pronounced (British RP) /naɪts/ and not /knɪghts/ (which would the pronounciation on the assumption that <k> = /k/, <n> = /n/, etc.,) which proves the difficulty in describing word length.

I'm not sure what you mean by "issue". I think it's clear that "longest" in the page title is in terms of the number of letters, rather than the number of graphemes, number of phonemes, length of time to utter, or anything else. The page is a harmless discussion of a piece of trivia, with no reference to serious phonology or historical linguistics. I don't believe it contains any phrases which might suggest otherwise. jnestorius(talk) 19:06, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Original Research?[edit]

So it looks to me like the references here are just attesting to the fact that the listing is a word, not to it being the longest word. It seems to me that this 'list of longest one syllable words' therefore constitutes original research. I would even argue that it is inherently original research unless someone can produce a notable third party source where such a list is published. Any comments? Locke9k (talk) 19:26, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

The references for broughammed, scraunched, and schnappsed explicitly mention being the longest. The list does not claim to be definitive. jnestorius(talk) 12:30, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
The expression (and ban on) original research are widely misused and nearly universally misunderstood, but the objections to this list — and certainly some of the words on it — in fact, all but schmaltzed and strengthed — are well taken. — Robert Greer (talk) 19:18, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

schtroumpfed[edit]

According to this article, schtroumpfed is a French word. The fact that it was used once by one English writer doesn't make it an English word. Or am I missing something? DoctorKubla (talk) 19:10, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

No, schtroumpfed is not a French word, assuming the verb schtroumpfer is a regular -er verb (although it has the 13-letter monosyllabic third-person plural present tense form schtroumpfent). The article's lede contains the caveat "Some candidates are questionable on grounds of spelling, pronunciation, or status as obsolete, dialect, proper noun, or nonce word", to which list I have added loanword. The presence of a word in the table should not be taken to mean that most people or most Wikipedians think that the word is valid; rather, that some people might argue the word is valid. Feel free to discount (mentally) any or all those words you don't approve of. As the Oxford English Dictionary states, "the circle of the English language has a well-defined centre but no discernible circumference." jnestorius(talk) 08:53, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

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