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    #1

    Elision of Schwa sound (II)

    Dear teachers and members:

    I posted a similiar thread before but I wasn't well informed about the Schwa sound, and my Phonetics and Phonology knowledge is better now as when the previous thread was posted.

    In regard to the appoximant alveolar consonants R and L which have the peculiarity of forming a consonant cluster when combined with another consonant allowing them to sound as if they were only one consonant; for example:



    a) /cr/ as in CRIME /kraɪm/; b) /br/ as in BRIBE /braɪb/.


    c) /pl/ as in PLACE /pleɪs/; d) /gl/ as in GLUE /ɡluː/.


    Two consonants unless they turn into as though they were one sound are barely pronounced; it's very difficult to articulate them but exceptions to the rule exist. My theory is as follows:


    The Schwa sound is so weak that when it is between a consonant and either the alveolar approximant R or L, the word may be pronounced whether with the Schwa sound or not, but the Schwa sound is usually elided.


    a) Separate /ˈsɛpərɪt/ is mostly pronounced as /ˈsɛprɪt/.


    b) Several /ˈsɛvərəl/ sounding as /ˈsɛvrəl/.


    c) Different /ˈdɪfərənt/ as /ˈdɪfrənt/.


    d) Chocolate /ˈtʃɒkəlɪt/ as /ˈtʃɒklɪt/.


    e) Counselor /ˈkaʊnsələr/ as /ˈkaʊnslər/.


    f) Basically /ˈbeɪsɪkəlɪ/ as /ˈbeɪsɪklɪ/.

    My another theory is that the elision of the Schwa sound ─sometimes the Schwa sound together with the following consonant sound are elided─ occurring in words not having the alveolar approximant L and R is due to the fact that, the first consonant which lies between the elided Schwa sound and the second consonant, may be pronounced as if it were either part of the previous syllable or its sound remains the same even after the Schwa sound has been elided; for instance:


    a) Comfortable /ˈkʌmfərtəbəl/ sounding just like /ˈkʌmftəbəl/.


    The Schwa sound /ə/ and the /r/ sound were elided; the /f/ sound is now part of the preceding sound /kʌm/.


    b) Vegetable /ˈvɛdʒətəbəl/ as /ˈvɛdʒtəbəl/.


    The Schwa sound /ə/ was elided; the /vɛdʒ/ sound kept its sounds.


    I will deeply appreciated your feedback and insight in this matter.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 31-Mar-2015 at 06:53.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Elision of Schwa sound (II)

    I can only say that I agree with you.

    It's a shame you used the same letters for your examples instead of continuing up the alphabet, which would have made it easier to identify the words.

    In my southern English, most of the Schwa sounds in your examples are elided in normal speech. Some of the words can be pronounced more carefully and still sound quite normal, e.g. separate, several, different and counselor. I find that chocolate, basically and comfortable sound strange if fully pronounced. I never pronounce vegetable as /ˈvɛdʒətəbəl/ but some people do. It sounds wrong to me.

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    #3

    Re: Elision of Schwa sound (II)

    Thank you Roman55 for replying.


    Though it might be a shame, I didn't notice that I was using the same letters for my examples; it was a mistake.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 11-Mar-2015 at 06:07.

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    #4

    Re: Elision of Schwa sound (II)

    Despite the consonant cluster /cr/ being two distinct consonant sounds (/c/ and /r/) that when connected together are able to be pronounced, I would like to know if the elision of the Schwa sound in the words above has something to do with it; I have heard both pronunciations used.


    Different /ˈdɪfərənt/


    The Schwa sound between the phonemes /f/ and /r/, it's usually elided.


    Different /ˈdɪfrənt/.


    The Schwa sound between the phonemes /f/ and /r/ has been elided, as usually, thus the /f/ and /r/ phonemes be connected together and forming a syllable with either the next vowel or Schwa sound.


    In the word DEFINITE /ˈdefənət/, the Schwa sound cannot be elided because if the phonemes /f/ and /n/ are connected together, they do not create a consonant cluster being able to be pronounced like /f/ and /r/; that's what I really mean.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 31-Mar-2015 at 06:51.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Elision of Schwa sound (II)

    The schwa has no sound. There is no vowel sound at all:

    Murmur sounds like mrmr.
    Several sounds like sevral.
    Lesson sounds like lessn.
    Captain sounds like captn.
    Murder sounds like mrdr.
    Summer sounds like summr.
    Winter sounds like wintr.
    Pursue sounds like prsue.
    Infirm sounds like infrm.
    Labor (or labour) sounds like labr.

    Sometimes it marks a slight pause to show that there's another syllable:

    Granite sounds like gran-t - not like grant.
    Correct sounds like c-rrect - not like crect.
    Refrigerate sounds like refrig-rate, not like refrijrate.
    Definite sounds like def-nt, not defnt.

    But that's just a slight vocal stretching between the two consonants, not the sound of any particular vowel.

    When there is no pause at all, as in chocolate and vegetable, those are silent vowels, not schwas.

    Your statement "Two consonants unless they turn into as though they were one sound are barely pronounced" is usually not true. For example, in bribe, both the B and R are clearly pronounced. In crime, both the C and R are clearly pronounced.

    I hope that helps!
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 04-Apr-2015 at 22:05.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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