Originally Posted by marco
There you go, you said it yourself - "CAN BE". But your first condition is that it "IS". Then you added that it should be a root word, not amended by plurality, tense, and the like. And because you alluded to an item in the forest, you have precluded the word "strength", which IS indisputably an EIGHT letter, ONE syllable word.
Even your referenced Wikipedia has a caveat attached to the word. When you read their explanation, you will find that the standard pronunciation (Received Pronunciation) is with two syllables. Though it explains further, that there are those who say it with one syllable. And you even say that everyone you run in to (that’s into, btw) this region that pronounces it with one syllable. That doesn’t mean that it is the generally accepted way. Only that it is, in that region. What about in other regions? In TX, when they say they're "tarred", doesn't mean a precursor to being "feathered".
I’m up for a debate, if that’s what you want. Only I ask that the rules be consistent. And I do not need to be patronized. I probably learned the English language the same time you did, if not before. I started to learn it when I was four, and I’m now 65. You’re a baby boomer, I’m a war baby. And because I had to learn it as a “second language”, I had to make sure that I had good references, foremost of which was Webster, and cannot take a lot of things for granted as many natives have. English has never been an enigma to me. It’s as plain as Math, and I learned them the same way. I was good in Math, because I was good in English. And English came first because otherwise, I wouldn't understand any Math. They are both bound by similar sets of rules. Come to think of it, it’s the only reference in my time, Webster’s Dictionary, when it comes to this issue.
I’m glad you brought up Webster because I, too, have referenced it in my reply to Taylor. I’ve already explained why the Wikipedia cannot be taken at face value. As you have. One needs to look further into the issues. Then you wrote that your Webster says that the proper ways are “skwur” and “skwur-el”. To me, that already is a contradiction of your conditions because there are two apparent pronunciations.
However, my Webster has for this word: “squir•rel (skwűr’el, skwŭr’-). Our American teachers told us that the (•)dot between the “r’s” indicate the division between syllables. Also, that the first or only listed pronunciation is the commonly accepted pronunciation. Second or third entries may be listed, but these may be regional adaptations or variations. In regards to the second entry for this word, there is a dash. This indicates that the second syllable is pronounced the same way as in the first. Not that the second syllable is silent. Otherwise, it would be entered as “skwŭr’l”, which you seem to allude to. But the difference between the two ways is in the first syllable where the first “ű” is pronounced like “urge or firm”, while the second was has “ŭ” like in “cut”.
This is exemplified further in the word: “spring•board (spr¬ĭng’bôrd, -bŏrd). In the second entry, does it mean that this word is pronounced as one syllable? I think not.
Without the condition of forest, I think the word IS “strength”. But then, there may be others.