Hot answers tagged

37

I believe that schwa (ə) is something a bit mysterious to many ELLs. The number of questions here, at EL&U, and around the web seems to indicate so. If you are learning English as a second language, and your language has no such concept as schwa, I hope my answer may help you a little. If you look up words in dictionary, soon you will find this "...


17

Phonemically1 -ing is always /ɪŋ/. The vowel phoneme2 is decided by linguists to be /ɪ/, though it can be realised in many different ways. Phonetically3, however, it's realised as [iŋ] in some dialects of English (particularly American); that is to say, the vowel [ɪ] raises to [i] due to the effect of the following velar nasal (nasalisation). According to ...


10

The short answer is that some people do pronounce the vowel in sing, king, think, zinc etc. as [iŋ], but some people pronounce it as [ɪŋ]. Because there is no possible contrast between [i] and [ɪ] in this context in English, it's hard for most English speakers to hear the difference. A lack of contrast between otherwise contrastive sounds is called "...


8

The vowel sound in "sing" is similar to that in "sit" or "pit", and different (even if you ignore length) from the sound in "seat". So when transcribing using IPA we write /sɪŋ/ /sɪt/ but /siːt/. I don't pronounce it as "seeng". I'm not sure what you mean by ihng. There is no "h" in /ɪ/


5

In non-rhotic1 varieties of English (Standard Southern British English here), 'teacher' on it's own is pronounced /ˈtiː.tʃə/. However, when it's followed by another word beginning with a vowel, it's pronounced /ˈtiː.tʃər..../ i.e. the R is pronounced. Dictionaries often write it with a parenthetical or a superscript R2 to indicate that the R is pronounced ...


4

The schwa is two things. To phonologists, it is a vowel sound between e and a. The tongue is lower than e, but higher than a. This is independent of any connections with the English language. To users of English dictionaries, the schwa it is an upside-down e notation which doesn't denote one specific phoneme but different sounds in different dialects of ...


4

Two sounds in English are commonly identified as schwa, and, as a native English speaker, while I acknowledge that they have similar qualities, I find them different. The first is the vowel that occurs in most unstressed English syllables, e.g. the first syllable of about. This sound I produce as follows: my lips leave only a small opening, but I'm not ...


4

The Original Poster has found an enormous typo/display problem in the Cambridge Dictionary. The type of British English described in the Cambridge Dictionary is Southern Standard British English. This variety of English is non-rhotic, which means that we only pronounce R when it occurs directly before a vowel sound. The correct pronunciation is /ʃɔː/, not /...


4

Student doesn't sound like *[ˈsdjuːdn̩t] discharge ......................... *[dɪˈsd͡ʒɑːd͡ʒ] spy ................................... *[sbaɪ] describe ........................... *[dɪˈsgraɪb] system ............................. *[ˈsɪsdəm] school .............................. *[sguːl] you think they do because you're confusing the plosives in your native ...


4

Google Translate, Google Dictionary use a different phonetic transcription than the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). That is why you get /tēCHər/ instead of /ˈtiː.tʃɚ/ or /ˈtiː.tʃə/ as it would be in the IPA. This is not uncommon for dictionary phonetic markings, as usually this simplified pronunciation respelling is more straightforward, reliant upon ...


3

There is no general rule about how to phonetically differentiate a voiceless consonant symbol (like /t/) with a voicing diacritic from the equivalent voiced consonant symbol (like /d/) in IPA. The "IPA", despite standing for "International Phonetic Alphabet", is actually not just (or even mainly) used for phonetic transcriptions, but also for phonemic and ...


3

VANGUARD (VAN-gahrd) ADEPT (uh-DEPT) SATURATED (SACH-uh-RAY-tid) The parenthesised sequences of alphabet are called the 'phonetic spellings' of the words. It shows how you would pronounce a particular word. The capitalised parts are the 'stressed' syllables of the words. 'Stress' (or 'accent') is relative emphasis or prominence given to a certain syllable ...


3

In Southern British English: [ˌbɜːd͡ʒ.əl.əˈræb]. In General American English: [ˌbɝd͡ʒ.əl.əˈɹæb]. I've also heard [ˌbɝd͡ʒ.əl.æˈɹæb] and [ˌbɝd͡ʒ.æl.æˈɹæb] (the Al is an Arabic word so I don't know how it's supposed to be pronounced, but I suspect it's with a schwa). [ɝ] is called a rhotacised vowel which is the rhotic equivalent of the non-rhotic vowel [ɜ]. ...


3

No. Most (but not all) of England and Wales (but not Scotland) is non-rhotic, which means that a final /r/ is never pronounced unless the word is followed in the same breath-group by a vowel-initial sound.


2

I am super late to the party here, but I myself learned IPA in college only because I was interested in learning phonology in general and it's not possible to have a conversation about phonology without knowing some phonetics. Put differently, I don't think I could have learned it (or at the least I would have been extremely bored) if I had had to memorize ...


2

The short I in the "es" suffix gets assimilated (or merged) with /i/ (i.e. the ee vowel) if it precedes it. e.g. places /ˈpleɪsɪz/ vs. trophies /troʊfiz/.


2

/ə/ is typically only used in unstressed syllables. In listen, the first syllable is stressed, so the vowel i cannot be pronounced /ə/ . See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwa for more information. Also, if you are not careful with the pronunciation of the i in listen, people may think you are saying lessen.


2

It's a diacritic sign which indicates that the sound is voiced. You might have noticed that in American English, a t is pronounced something like a d (voiced) when it's flanked by vowels in an unstressed syllable. So better sounds like bedder. However, that is not exactly a d, but something called an alveolar flap, represented by [ɾ] in the IPA. Dictionaries ...


2

It's a fact about the human vocal tract that consonant clusters that differ in voicing are difficult to pronounce, because changing from voiced to voiceless consonants requires independent movement of the larynx, which can be difficult to switch on and off at the millisecond timing required for consonant clusters. That's why the rules of English consonant ...


2

The reason seems to be historical as explained by Nardog in this answer on ELU. However, most words that end in /r/ in General American English (GAE) usually end in a schwa in Standard Southern British English (SSBE) because SSBE is non-rhotic. 'Non-rhotic' means that only prevocalic (before a vowel) R's are pronounced in SSBE. For example, the R in real is ...


2

Yes, you can use [plej] instead of [pleɪ]; there's no significant difference. I've seen the diphthong /eɪ/ transcribed both ways in phonetic transcriptions: [eɪ] or [ej]. However, you cannot use [j] for interconsonantal [i], so [bit] or [bɪt] cannot be transcribed as *[bjt]. (The main difference between [i] and [j] is that the former is a vowel and has no ...


1

When writers of stories in English wish to telegraph that certain characters are not English natives (and in particular if they are "European", e.g. French, Italian or Spanish), they sometimes use the technique of amending the spelling of certain words so as to emphasise that they are being pronounced in a "foreign" accent. It is the ...


1

The /iŋ/ might be your regional thing if you are used to such pronunciation, although I'd say most standard variations of English pronounce it in fact with an /ɪ/.


1

Where I come from (US English), "use" as a verb is [juːz], and the third person singular form of it ("uses") is [juːzəz]. For the noun: singular is [juːs], and plural is [juːsəz].


1

Different dictionaries use different symbols to transcribe the same sound. So you'll see different transcriptions such as: /ˈfɪzɪkəl/ /ˈfɪzɪkl/ /ˈfɪzɪkl̩/ /ˈfɪzɪkəl/ /ˈfɪzɪk(ə)l/ The last syllable is unstressed and has an obstruent (/t p k s z/ etc) followed by a sonorant (/l m n/ etc). When an obstruent is followed by a Sonorant in the same unstressed ...


1

IPA symbols represent 'sounds'. Don't confuse spelling with sounds. In IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), /j/ is used to represent the Y sound that you hear in the beginning of you, yes and yummy. Yes → /jɛs/ You → /juː/ Yummy → /jʌ.mi/ The dictionaries (e.g. Dictionary.com) that give 'yu' as the pronunciation of you don't use IPA. By contrast, the ...


1

In IPA, those marks (not acutally apostrophe or comma) indicate primary and secondary stress. The "apostrophe" or ˈ precedes the primary stress, and the "comma" or ˌ comes before the syllable with secondary stress. So /ˌmiːdɪˈəʊkə/ is mee-di-oh-ka but /ˈmiːdɪˌəʊkə/ is mee-di-oh-ka.


1

That sounds pretty natural to me (Australian English native speaker). I think the "k" sound is being modified by the "y" sound after it and is becoming softer as a result - more like "ch" as Tetsujin says.. I can't type IPA here, but when I say it myself I can feel that my tongue is further back on the roof of my mouth when I say the "k" sound in "headachy"...


1

Short answer: Go to this URL: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bevel Click on the speaker icon. The second vowel in that word is the schwa sound. If that's not clear, try this one: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/angle The second vowel in that is also a schwa. If you listen to both, maybe you can hear the similarity in the sound.


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible