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Could someone mark out the dispute for me?  I can't tell the players
without a program, here.

As far as I know, syllable nuclei are readily identifiable from
spectrograms of fluid speech.  You can also mostly tell whether such
nuclei are actually vowels or some other form of sonorant, although
the distinction lies along a spectrum of degrees of friction with no
clear line in the middle.

For the most part it's the boundaries between syllables that are
imprecise and dependent on phonological interpretation.

Isolated utterances are trickier.  If you walk up to a Russian and ask
them to say their word for "of", I'd transcribe their likely response
as [v=], but since it's a continuous sound, there may not be an
identifiable syllable shape on the spectrogram.  Either way, in
regular connected Russian speech, в is clearly not syllabic.

I don't know anything about this [sxs] thing, though.  The
transcription certainly doesn't give me enough to figure out how to
pronounce it myself.  I'd love to hear a recording and/or see a
spectrogram of someone pronouncing it.  Was there a link to one that I
missed?