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Onsets are optional syllable constituents in Afrikaans. They precede an obligatory nucleus, which is itself part of the rhyme, which, in turn, also includes an optional coda. If present, onsets consist of singleton consonants or consonant clusters of two or three consonants. Figure 1 depicts the aforesaid structure, one which is true not only of Afrikaans but cross-linguistically as well:

Figure 1: Internal structure of the syllable
[click image to enlarge]


In Figure 1 the Onset and Coda are in brackets, which means that they are both optional constituents of the syllable. Therefore, onsetless and codaless (or both) syllables are possible. See the following topics for more details concerning onsets.

  1. Onsetless syllables: Onsets are optional syllable constituents in Afrikaans.
  2. Onset: singleton consonants: any singleton consonant of the Afrikaans segment inventory, except the velar nasal /ŋ/, can constitute an onset.
  3. Onset: complex onsets: Afrikaans allows for complex onsets, i.e. consonant clusters consisting of two or three consonants.
    1. Onset: sequences of two consonants
    2. Onset: sequences of three consonants

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