Mid central unrounded vowel

The mid-central vowel (also known as schwa) is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ə, a rotated lowercase letter e. The same symbol may be used for both the unrounded and the rounded forms of the mid-central vowel, although there exist certain other notations that may be used to represent either variant specifically.

Mid-central unrounded vowel

The mid-central unrounded vowel is frequently written with the symbol [ə]. However, this symbol does not specifically represent an unrounded vowel, and it is frequently used for almost any unstressed obscure vowel. If precision is desired, the symbol for the close-mid central unrounded vowel may be used with a lowering diacritic, [ɘ̞].

Features

Occurrence

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe зы ) 'one'
Albanian është [ˈəʃtə] 'is'
Armenian ընկեր [əŋˈkɛɹ] 'friend'
Catalan (Eastern) amb [əm(b)] 'with' See Catalan phonology
Dutch beter [ˈbeːtər] 'better' See Dutch phonology
English Most dialects Tina [ˈtʰiːnə] 'Tina' Reduced vowel. See English phonology
Cultivated
South African[1]
bird [bəːd] 'bird' May be transcribed /ɜː/. Other varieties use a higher, more front and rounded vowel ~ ø̈ː].
Received Pronunciation[2] Often transcribed /ɜː/. It's Sulcalized, which means the tongue is grooved like in [ɹ]. 'Upper Crust RP' speakers pronounce a near-open vowel ], but for some other speakers it may actually be open-mid ]. This vowel corresponds to rhotacized ] in rhotic dialects.
Indian[3] bust [bəst] 'bust' May be lower. Some Indian varieties merge /ʌ/ and /ə/ like Welsh English.
Wales[4] May also be further back; it corresponds to ] in other dialects.
Yorkshire[5] Middle class pronunciation. Other speakers use ]. Corresponds to ] in other dialects.
French ce [sə] 'this' The final e is pronounced like this (only in prepositions. Otherwise, the final e isn't pronounced).
German Standard[6] bitte [ˈbɪtə] 'please' Unstressed allophone of /ɛ/, may be pronounced [ɛ] in some dialects. See German phonology
Hindustani दस/دَس [ˈd̪əs] 'ten' See Hindustani phonology
Kabardian щы ) 'three'
Kashubian jãzëk [jãzək] 'language'
Luxembourgish[7] dënn [dən] 'thin' Often realized with slight lip rounding.
Malay Melayu [məlaju] 'Malay'
Marathi करा [əkˈra] 'eleven' See Marathi phonology.
Macedonian к’смет [ˈkəs̪mɛt̪] 'luck' (archaic) Not considered a vowel phoneme. See Macedonian phonology
Palauan tilobęd [tilobəd] 'came'
Pashto غوښه [ˈɣwəʂa] 'meat' See Pashto dialects
Portuguese European[8] pagar [pɜ̝ˈɣaɾ] 'to pay' Corresponds mostly to a near-open vowel [ɐ] in Brazilian Portuguese.[9] Across dialects, among most Brazilian speakers, may be further lowered to an open vowel in certain positions. See Portuguese phonology
Romanian măr [mər] 'apple' See Romanian phonology
Russian это ) 'this' See Russian phonology
Swedish be [bəˈɡoː] 'to commit' Unstressed allophone of /ɛ/, see Swedish phonology
Welsh Cymru ) 'Wales' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian gewoan [ɡəˈʋoə̯n] 'normal'

Mid-central rounded vowel

Languages may have a mid-central rounded vowel (a rounded [ə]), distinct from both the close-mid and open-mid vowels. However, since no language is known to distinguish all three, there is no separate IPA symbol for the mid vowel, and the symbol [ɵ] for the close-mid central rounded vowel is generally used instead. If precision is desired, the lowering diacritic can be used: [ɵ̞]. This vowel can also be represented by adding the more rounded diacritic to the schwa symbol, or by combining the raising diacritic with the open-mid central rounded vowel symbol, although it's rare to use such symbols.

Features

Occurrence

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Dutch Belgian[10] neus ) 'nose' Usually transcribed /øː/; in the Netherlands it's often a diphthong [ɵʉ]. See Dutch phonology
French[11] je [ʒɵ̞] 'I' This may be more front for a number of speakers. See French phonology
Russian[12][13] тётя [ˈtʲɵ̞tʲə] 'aunt' Allophone of /o/ in the environment of palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[14] dum [d̪ɵ̞mː] 'dumb' See Swedish phonology
West Frisian skowe [ˈskoːwə̹] 'to shove'

The Swedish [ɵ̞] is pronounced with compressed lips, more closely transcribed [ɵ̞ᵝ] or [ɘ̞ᵝ].

See also

References

Bibliography

de:Mittlerer Zentralvokal

es:Schwa ms:Vokal pusat tengah ru:Ненапряжённый гласный среднего ряда среднего подъёма

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