Sunday, 1st February 2015

by Joshua Gaskell

Schwa is

A term in phonetics for a central vowel sound represented by the symbol /ə/. […] Although not represented in the conventional alphabet, schwa is the commonest vowel sound in English. It typically occurs in unstressed syllables, and in the following list is shown for illustrative purposes as if it were an everyday letter: əbove, əgain, səppose, photəgraph, scenəry, sofə. (Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language)

Further to my definition of spelling pronunciation: since schwa isn’t represented in the alphabet (and with the American-influenced tendency uniambically to stress unstressed syllables), will it always remain ‘the commonest vowel sound in English’?

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