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Encyclopedia > Vowel reduction

In English, an unstressed or reduced vowel is the vowel sound that forms the syllable peak of a syllable that has no lexical stress. This sound is typically a schwa, although there are other vowels that can be unstressed or reduced. An reduced vowel is one of the vowels that can only occur in unstressed syllables, like schwa, and an unstressed vowel is one of the vowels that can be stressed but is not. This article is about the alphabet officially used in linguistics. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word phone = sound/voice) is the study of speech sounds (voice). ... In computing, Unicode is the international standard whose goal is to provide the means to encode the text of every document people want to store in computers. ... Technical Note: Most IPA symbols are not included in Times New Roman, the default font for Latin scripts in Internet Explorer for Windows. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... This article discusses the unit of speech. ... In linguistics, stress is the emphasis given to some syllables (often no more than one in each word, but in many languages, long words have a secondary stress a few syllables away from the primary stress, as in the words cóunterfòil or còunterintélligence. ... See Schwa (art) for the underground artist. ...

Reduced vowels

Schwa is the most common reduced vowel in English, and may be denoted by any of the vowel letters: See Schwa (art) for the underground artist. ...

  • The a in about is a schwa.
  • The e in synthesis is a schwa.
  • The i in decimal is schwa, except in dialects that have two distinct reduced vowels (see below).
  • The o in harmony is a schwa.
  • The u in medium is a schwa.
  • The y in syringe is a schwa.

Whereas the sound represented by the er in water is a schwa in non-rhotic accents like Received Pronunciation, in rhotic dialects like most of North American English, this sound is not a schwa sound; rather, the "er" designates an r-colored schwa, /ɚ/, which is pronounced like schwa, except the tongue is pulled back in the mouth and "bunched up". English pronunciation is divided into two main accent groups, the rhotic and the non-rhotic, depending on when the letter r (equivalent to Greek rho) is pronounced. ... Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation of the English language, usually defined as the educated spoken English of southeastern England. This is a prescriptivist point-of-view — it is quite possible for an intelligent, educated individual to use a non-standard dialect. ... In phonetics, an r-colored vowel or rhotacized vowel is a vowel either with the tip or blade of the tongue turned up during at least part of the articulation of the vowel (a retroflex articulation) or with the the tip of the tongue down and the back of the...

In some dialects of English there is a distinction between two vowel heights of reduced vowels, schwa and barred i, the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/. In the British phonetic tradition, /ɪ/ is used to transcribe this vowel in British English instead of /ɨ/, but the sound is the same. An example of a minimal pair contrasting schwa and barred i: In phonetics, vowel height refers to the position of the tongue relative to the roof of the mouth in a vowel sound. ... The close central unrounded vowel is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. ... In phonetics, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phoneme and have a distinct meaning. ...

  • The e in roses is a barred i
  • The a in Rosa's is a schwa

The other sounds that can serve as the peak of reduced syllables are the syllabic consonants. The consonants that can be syllabic in English are the nasals /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, and the dark l /ɫ/. For example: Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... A dark l is a common way of referring to a velarised alveolar lateral approximant. ...

  • The m in prism is sometimes a syllabic /m/.
  • The on in button is a syllabic /n/ in dialects that pronounce the 'tt' as a glottal stop.
  • The word and in the phrase lock and key is sometimes pronounced as a syllabic /ŋ/.
  • The le in cycle and bottle is a syllablic /ɫ/.

The glottal stop or voiceless glottal plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages. ...

Unstressed vowels

All the other vowels in English can occur in unstressed syllables, although whether a unreduced vowel in such a syllable is really unstressed or merely has secondary stress is debatable. Unstressed [i] and [u] are sometimes considered separately from the other unstressed vowels and are called schwi and schwu, respectively.

For example:

vowel example IPA
/i/ wily ˈwaɪ.l i
/eɪ/ vacate ˈveɪ.k t
/ɛ/ enlist ɛ n.ˈlɪst
/ɑ/ neon ˈni. ɑ n
/æ/ valet v æ ˈleɪ
/ɔ/ catalog kæ.tə.l ɔ g
/oʊ/ limo ˈlɪm
/ʊ/ fulfill f ʊ l.ˈfɪl
/u/ tofu ˈto.f u
/aɪ/ idea .ˈdi.ə
/aʊ/ pronoun ˈpɹoʊ.n n
/ɔɪ/ royale ɹ ɔɪ ˈæl
/ju/ menu ˈmɛn. ju

  Results from FactBites:
Most competence models of vowel reduction take mainly the role of word stress into account; vowels in syllables without primary or secondary word stress are reduced to schwa (usually under some extra restrictions with respect to, for instance, vowel type or the position of the vowel in the word).
A vowel that is often subject to a strong acoustic reduction in a particular word may be confused with a schwa by listeners.
Vowel reduction is in fact just one of many kinds of `impoverishment' that can occur in the acoustic speech signal.
Tuesday June 1: John Harris (UCL) (267 words)
Vowel reduction degrades phonetic information in the speech signal and should be understood as having an analogous impact on phonological representations.
The point is illustrated by analyses of vowel reduction in a variety of languages drawn from Bantu, Romance and Slavic.
Reduction follows two apparently contradictory routes in vowel space, yielding either centralised vowels (the 'centripetal' pattern) or the corner vowels [a, i, u] (the 'centrifugal' pattern).
  More results at FactBites »



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