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Thread: schwa sound

  1. #1
    Unregistered Guest

    Default schwa sound

    How can I explain the schwa sound to my 3rd grader?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    The schwa sound is very much like the sound of hesitation when speaking and pausing before the next sentence or phrase about to be uttered:

    "What do you call... uhh... you know, that round thing... uhh, you know, that's red all around and..."

  3. #3
    Vu Hien is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    As i know, schwa sound /∂/ is not phonemes of English, but is an allophone of several different vowel phonemes when those phonemes occur in an unstressed syllable.
    Eg: eco'nomic German
    /∂/ /∂/



  4. #4
    naomimalan is offline Member
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    You could tell him it sounds like the "a" in "about".

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    Default Re: schwa sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy_Q View Post
    The schwa sound is very much like the sound of hesitation when speaking and pausing before the next sentence or phrase about to be uttered:

    "What do you call... uhh... you know, that round thing... uhh, you know, that's red all around and..."
    On the subject of "uh" you can also use the negative 'uh-uh' to demonstrate the glottal stop.

    b

  6. #6
    Charlie Bernstein is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy_Q View Post
    The schwa sound is very much like the sound of hesitation when speaking and pausing before the next sentence or phrase about to be uttered:

    "What do you call... uhh... you know, that round thing... uhh, you know, that's red all around and..."
    Whoa! Not where I come from!

    The schwa, an upside-down e in dictionaries, is a silent or very, very quiet vowel. English requires a vowel in every syllable, but not all spoken syllables have clear vowel sounds.

    Anyhow, that's how I learned it when I was little...

    Some words with schwas:

    murder
    consume
    research
    organize
    immigrant
    Florida
    pistol
    Christmas
    attendance
    platoon
    remark
    cotton

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

  7. #7
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    remark? i thought it sounded like ree-mark

    On another note, I've read that the schwa sound is the most frequent sound in English.

    It's interesting that some languages don't have the schwa soung, e.g. Greek. So most Greeks use any number of other vowels in place of schwa. E.g. "first" would be pronounced as [ferst], "murder" as MAHR-dehr, "consume" as konSYOOM.

    On the other hand, Bulgarian language even has a character that represents the schwa, namely: "ъ". English doesn't have a specific character for shwa (though any English vowel can be pronounced like a schwa). And so, when transliterating from Bulgarian to English it might be difficult to decide with which English letter to use to transliterate ъ. Either "a" or "u" is used. E.g. Parvanov is the official transliteration of the name of the Bulgarian president. Note that the first a in 'Parvanov' is a schwa.

    Sorry if I was a bit off-topic.
    Last edited by stefan_kar; 17-Feb-2009 at 00:14.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: schwa sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Whoa! Not where I come from!

    The schwa, an upside-down e in dictionaries, is a silent or very, very quiet vowel. English requires a vowel in every syllable, but not all spoken syllables have clear vowel sounds.

    Anyhow, that's how I learned it when I was little...

    Some words with schwas:

    murder !!!
    consume
    research (...even allowing for the American stress pattern)
    organize
    immigrant
    Florida
    pistol
    Christmas
    attendance
    platoon
    remark
    cotton

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]
    Are you suggesting that the phonemic transcription of "murder" is /'mədə/

    Much of this doesn't apply to Br English; the unstressed vowels in "immigrant/Florida/remark" are all /ɪ/. "Research" is doubly unBritish - we say /rɪ'sɜ:ʧ/, though there is an - in my view - lamentable tendency for the stress to move to the first syllable (but without leaving a schwa behind).

    b

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