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  1. #1
    grammarfreak is offline Banned
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    Default Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Dear teachers :


    As far as I have learned about the schwa sound, it is a reduced vowel sound that occurs in unstressed syllables of muti-syllable words or function words to reduce a vowel sound, its purpose is to allow the unstressed syllable to be said more quickly so that the stressed syllable may be easier to be pronounced, it does not have an exact and standard pronunciation; I think this is because vowels do not have the same sound; apart from being the most common sound in spoken English, I also think is very natural in English and has the same sound either in american or in british pronunciation. Schwa sound is represented by the IPA ( International Phonetic Alphabet ) and dictionaries as an upside down letter e, just like this symbol
    /ə/.

    My questions are as follows :

    1) The schwa sound
    /ə/ is related to a short u sound which is represented by IPA as /ʌ /, both are a short, quick and relaxed sound, but I found that the short u sound occurs in unstressed and stressed syllables has a stronger beat than the schwa sound in both type of syllables.

    The word '' another ''
    /əˈnʌ ər/ has two schwa sounds in (a and e ), but the short u sound in (o) is stressed.

    The word '' pronunciation ''
    /prəˌnʌn siˈeɪ ʃən/ has two schwa sounds in ( o and io), but the short u sound in ( u ) is unstressed, it has a secondary stress in this sound; the stress is in the letter ( a ).

    2) The majority of function words have no schwa sound originally or separately, but in conversation they took the schwa sound to reduce the vowel sound, like in : the, that, to, was, has, a, can, etc. Can these words be pronounced as no schwa sound in a conversation too?

    3) I want to learn a way that helps me to identify the schwa sound easily so as not to confuse it with a real vowel sound because it is a very common sound in spoken English.

    4) My last question is about the function word to when taking a schwa sound in a conversation. In this case I sometimes hear the to sounds as an a schwa sound preceded by an r , and sounding like
    rə, for instance:


    a) I swear to God :
    /aɪ swɛər
    Gɒd/ ;

    I hear it as :
    /aɪ 'swɛ
    Gɒd/

    b) So, go to work : /soʊ,
    goʊ tə wɜrk/ ;

    I hear it as :
    /soʊ, 'goʊwɜrk/

    c) We had to learn : /wi hd tə lɜrn/ ;

    I hear it as : /wi 'h
    rəlɜrn/


    Although I do not know if it is common in English, I have heard the letters d and t lose its sound and take an r sound in some words that have rd and rt follow by certain vowels in a conversation, and sometimes individually; in some words that end in d or t and are follow by a vowel; in some words that end with a d or t sound and are follow by a vowel. The letter t is also sometimes pronounced as r, and the past form ed sounds as /rɪd/ when preceded by d. The following are examples about this matter :


    1) Order :
    /ˈɔr dər/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /ˈɔr ər/

    2) Important :
    /ɪmˈpɔr tnt/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /ɪmˈpɔr nt/

    3) Hideaway : /ˈhaɪd əˌweɪ/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /ˈhaɪrəˌweɪ/

    4) Negative : /ˈnɛg ə tɪv/ ;

    It sounds like : /ˈnɛg ə
    rɪv/

    5) Modern : /ˈmɒd ərn/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /ˈmɒr ərn/

    6) I heard it :
    /aɪhɜrd ɪt/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /aɪ 'hɜrɪt/

    7) Heat it :
    /hi
    t ɪt/ ;

    It sounds like
    : /hirɪt/

    8) Write it : /raɪt ɪt/ ;

    It sounds like
    : /'raɪrɪt/

    9) Hide it : /haɪd ɪt/ ;

    It sounds like
    : /'haɪrɪt/

    10) Decided
    : /dɪˈsaɪ dɪd/ ;

    It sounds like
    : /dɪˈsaɪrɪd/

    11) Provided :
    /prəˈvaɪ dɪd/ ;

    It sounds like
    : /prəˈvaɪ rɪd/


    In my opinion, I think this is the reason why to when spoken as a schwa sound in a conversation takes the r
    ə sound, as in the examples a); b) and c) above.

    I need your assistance and explanation in this matter, please if any of you know a good book about phonetics, I will appreciate your recommendation.


    Sincerely,


    Grammarfreak

    Observation :

    I forgot to complete the last point above mentioned ( the number
    4 ) in this thread, what I want to mean is that these sounds I have only heard them in american spoken English. The number 4 exposition ( the last one ) also includes the last paragraph.
    Last edited by grammarfreak; 22-Jan-2013 at 22:35. Reason: editing and misspelling

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    To be honest, many of these pronunciations are unrecognisable to me.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Quote Originally Posted by grammarfreak View Post
    its purpose is to allow the unstressed syllable to be said more quickly so that the stressed syllable may be easier to be pronounced,
    I don't think that we can really say that schwa has a purpose.
    The schwa sound is related to a short u sound which is represented by IPA as /ʌ /
    Where did you find this information? The British English /ə/ represents the same sound as the IPA [ə]. This is a central vowel; [ʌ] is a back vowel.
    In the word '' another ''/əˈnʌ ər/ the short u sound is stressed.
    The two schwa sounds are unstressed. The /ʌ/, which is hardly a 'short u', is stressed.

    In the word '' pronunciation '' /prəˌnʌn siˈeɪ ʃən/ the short
    u sound is unstressed.
    The two schwa sounds are unstressed. The /ʌ/, which is hardly a 'short u', is stressed.

    I'll leave your other points for another time. We need to be sure of the basic first.

  4. #4
    grammarfreak is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Dear Tidol :

    If you write these words in a dictionary online you will found these IPA pronunciations, I am got used to use dictionary.reference.com and then I click on show IPA


    Respecfully,



    Grammarfreak

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    grammarfreak is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Dear 5jj :

    I agree that the schwa sound has the same sound, symbol and usage in american English as in british, but my concern is in which of my points of view and examples I am right or wrong, if possible, please I need help in this matter.

    Mr. 5jj if you know a good phonetics book that you can recommend to me, I will greatly appreciate that.


    Respecfully,


    Grammarfrek.

  6. #6
    grammarfreak is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Dear 5jj :


    I would like you check my post again and make another comment about it.

    I would appreciate your comment,


    Thanks and Regards,


    Grammarfreak.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Quote Originally Posted by grammarfreak View Post
    2) The majority of function words have no schwa sound originally or separately, but in conversation they took the schwa sound to reduce the vowel sound, like in : the, that, to, was, has, a, can, etc.
    That makes it sound as if the whole thing was planned. What evidence have you for the words I have underlined?
    Can these words be pronounced as no schwa sound in a conversation too?
    The strong forms of those words can be used in speech if they are stressed. 'To' has the unstressed forms /tə/ before a consonant sound and /tu/ before a vowel.
    3) I want to learn a way that helps me to identify the schwa sound easily so as not to confuse it with a real vowel sound because it is a very common sound in spoken English.
    I don't know what you mean by that. Schwa is a 'real vowel'

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Quote Originally Posted by grammarfreak View Post
    If you know a good phonetics book that you can recommend to me, I will greatly appreciate that.
    I have found these useful:

    Cruttenden, Alan (2001), Gimson's Pronunciation of English, London: Arnold

    Laefoged, Peter (2006), A course in Phonetics, Boston: Thomson Wadsworth

    Roach, Peter (1991), English Phonetics and Phonology (2nd edn), Cambridge: CUP
    Jones, Daniel (2003), English Pronouncing Dictionary (16th edn, edited by Peter Roach et al), Camridge: CUP

    Wells, J C (2008) Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Harlow: Pearson Longman.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Quote Originally Posted by grammarfreak View Post
    If you write these words in a dictionary online you will found these IPA pronunciations, I am got used to use dictionary.reference.com and then I click on show IPA
    This is quite simply not the case- where in dictionary.reference.com, for example, do you find stuff like this:

    3) Hideaway : /ˈhaɪd əˌweɪ/ ;

    It sounds like :
    /ˈhaɪrəˌweɪ/

    4) Negative : /ˈnɛg ə tɪv/ ;

    It sounds like : /ˈnɛg ə
    rɪv/
    They don't give it. They give [hahyd-uh-wey] and (ˈhaɪdəˌweɪ), and [neg-uh-tiv] and (ˈnɛɡətɪv). Please give us a link to a reputable dictionary that gives the pronunciation you say they give. There's no mention of this /r/ sound.

  10. #10
    grammarfreak is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Schwa Sound in English ( part one of two)

    Dear 5jj :


    Thank you 5jj for your clarification about the points that I am not correct, knowing in which part I am wrong, it helps me a lot. Thanks again for the books you recommended me because my teachers have told me that I have to work on my pronunciation, I am learning English with the intention to teach.

    This is my deduction on what I consider to have learned about the Schwa sound, that is why I am asking your assistance in which points I am right or wrong, I consider or deduce that the majority of the function words have this condiction, is my opinion, not an evidence.

    Soon I will post the second part of this thread, but before that, I will learn a lot more about the Schwa sound.


    Yours truly


    Grammarfreak

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