A syllable was a one-beat sound in a word.
The emphasis of syllables in a word could make a difference in its interpretation. In 2151, Hoshi Sato demonstrated the subtleties of the Kreetassan language to Travis Mayweather by giving the example of the word "hwajat", which meant "to mate" when the first syllable was stressed, instead of "to eat" when it was not. Mayweather agreed that it "might cause some confusion over dinner". (ENT: "Vox Sola")