The Influence of Experimental Method on English Syllabification


  • David Eddington Brigham Young University
  • Ross J. Cairns Brigham Young University


English langauge, syllabification, experiment, intratask reliability


A number of experimental methods have been used to elicit metalinguistic judgments about syllable division, a good deal of which deals with the syllabification of English words. However the syllabification literature is largely silent on the issue of intratask reliability, that is, whether the tasks all yield the same kinds of intuitions from speakers. Côté and Kharlamov (2011) gathered data from Russian speakers who syllabified nonce words in four different experimental conditions. When the results were compared they observed widely different results in many instances. This suggests that syllabification preferences are highly influenced by the particular task used to elicit them, which in turn casts doubt on the intratask reliability of syllabification studies. In order to test the reliability of different experimental methods in English, syllable divisions of 120 English words were elicited with eight different experimental tasks. In a mixed-effects logistic regression, no main effect of experimental method was found, although the method showed some interaction with stress and the legality of the consonant cluster word-initially and word-finally. Reasons why these results differ from those of Côté and Kharlamov are discussed, some of which are due to methodological flaws in their analysis.

Author Biographies

David Eddington, Brigham Young University

David Eddington is presently a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University. He specializes in data-orientated approaches to phonology, morphology, and the Spanish language.

Ross J. Cairns, Brigham Young University

Ross Cairns is an International Account Manager for Spark Innovation. He has an MA in Hispanic Studies from the University of Glasgow and recently graduated from Brigham Young University with an MA in Spanish Linguistics.



How to Cite

Eddington, D., & Cairns, R. J. (2020). The Influence of Experimental Method on English Syllabification. Journal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science, 2(1). Retrieved from