1. The spelling of Libya suggests that it should be disyllabic ˈlɪbjə. But all agree that in English it is actually trisyllabic/varisyllabic ˈlɪbiə. (It seems to be disyllabic in Arabic: ليبيا Lībyā.)
2. With foreign words containing an intervocalic semivowel there is a choice when we anglicize them. Which syllable do we treat the source semivowel as belonging to?
- In some cases we resyllabicate, taking the semivowel into the lefthand syllable to make part of a diphthong. Thus Japanese Toyota トヨタ ˈto.jo.ta becomes English tɔɪˈəʊtə. Kawasaki 川崎 ka ˌɰa sa ki usually becomes ˌkaʊ.əˈsɑːk.i. Sayonara さよなら saˌjoː.na.ˈɾa becomes (in BrE at least) ˌsaɪ.əˈnɑː.rə. Provençal jambalaya becomes ˌdʒæm.bəˈlaɪ.ə, while Spanish playa ˈpla. ja becomes ˈplaɪ.ə and papaya paˈpa.ja becomes pəˈpaɪ.ə. French Bayeux ba.jø usually becomes ˌbaɪˈɜː or ˈbaɪ.ɜː in BrE, while crayon kʁɛ.jɔ̃ becomes ˈkreɪ.ɒn.
- In other cases, though, we keep the semivowel as a semivowel and put it, as we then must, in the righthand syllable. Thus Malawi is məˈlɑː.wi (not *məˈlaʊ.i). Some people do this with Kawasaki, making it ˌkɑː.wəˈsɑːk.i rather than my ˌkaʊ.əˈsɑːk.i. I certainly pronounce Okinawa in English as ˌɒk.ɪˈnɑː.wə, not *-naʊ.ə (the initial vowel’s going to be different in AmE). There’s no choice, of course, in the case of hallelujah ˌhæl.ɪˈluː.jə, because in English we don’t have a falling ʊɪ̯.
3. Alas, my efforts to explain things clearly in the two previous posts don’t seem to have been wholly successful. Houbu Ren now writes
I don't believe I fully understand the phonological difference between million ˈmɪl jən and ˈmɪl i‿ən. Should I sound ˈmɪl jən like ˈmɪl first and then jən? or ˈmɪ first and then ljən? What would this word sound without the ‿? Would it be the same or just has to emphasize the ən, like ˈmɪ l iən ?
As explained in LPD in the text box about Compression (p. 173 in the current third edition, or p. 165 in the Chinese second edition), ˈmɪli‿ən means “two pronunciations are possible: a slower one ˈmɪl i ən, and a faster one ˈmɪl jən. The uncompressed version is more usual in rarer words, in slow or deliberate speech, and the first time a word is used in a given discourse; the compressed version is more usual in frequently used words, in fast or casual speech, and if the word has already been used in the discourse.”
In the second edition, the entry for million read ˈmɪl jən. Responding to a user’s criticism, I changed this in the third edition to ˈmɪl jən ˈmɪl i‿ən. This allows for a trisyllabic version as well as the usual disyllabic one.
Following my syllabification, you should sound it as ˈmɪl first and then jən.
If the compression symbol were not present, thus ˈmɪl i ən, that would imply that only the three-syllable pronunciation was possible. But that would be wrong, because a two-syllable pronunciation of million is certainly not only possible but also usual.