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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default schwa in bribery

    The schwa ə in bribery /braɪbəri/ is marked as an italic in some pronunciation symbol like "student /stu:dnt/" 's reduced sound between d and n.(Sorry, I can't find it on computer and post it here)
    Do native speakers pronounce sometimes /braɪbəri/ (like ʌ)and sometimes /braɪbri/ (removed, zero sound) depending on their mood or is it a personal or regional difference?
    In Korean, we also pronounce some words like /gəji/ meaning beggar as /gji/ with ə sound removed.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: schwa in bribery

    The Cambridge EPD transcribes the word with only two syllables - i.e., no schwa. The LPD gives the schwa as optional. I think that I always pronounce the word with three syllables; it is difficult to be sure, unless one has access to a spectogram.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: schwa in bribery

    It was also difficult for me to choose either schwa-ed pronunciation or schwa-less one for so many words with schwa whenever I had to, so I always hesitated in some pronunciations. I couldn't explain it to Koreans well, either.
    I can't also judge if schwa-ed or schwa-less pronunciation for some Korean words is right, but either might be okay as long as we can understand the meaning.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: schwa in bribery

    If asked in a formal context how many syllables the word "bribery" has, I would always answer "3". When I say it, it's more like 2.5 syllables! I know that's not possible but it really doesn't sound like the full three, yet it's not quite squashed up enough to only be two.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: schwa in bribery

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    If asked in a formal context how many syllables the word "bribery" has, I would always answer "3". When I say it, it's more like 2.5 syllables! I know that's not possible but it really doesn't sound like the full three, yet it's not quite squashed up enough to only be two.
    I think the idea of a 'half-syllable' can be very useful for learners.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: schwa in bribery

    In any case, schwa before r is an almost unanswerable question, given that rhotic /r/ is almost a semi-vowel in character, in many regions. Schwa before a nasal is also a dicey thing to answer, since nasal consonants can be sustained, like vowels. So, it's very hard to say where schwa ends and /r/ or /n/ begin in these words.

    I pronounce bribery with three syllables and a half-schwa half /r/ in the second syllable. The two-syllable pronunciation sounds almost impossibly posh, like a false RP.

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