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Difference between "schwa" and "^"

 
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ChiSquare8



Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 8:16 pm    Post subject: Difference between "schwa" and "^" Reply with quote

I was teaching the "schwa" sound last week and one of the students asked me the difference between schwa and ^. Text books seem to be inconsistant in addressing both sounds.

Thanks
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1370
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you answered your question right there Wink. It is very inconsistent. When I first started studying linguistics many years ago, there was no mention of the ^. We used the schwa for the sound in "cup." In addition, we used something called a "barred i (an i with a line through it) to show the reduced sound you get when you pronounce something unstressed, like "to the" in "to the store" in normal fast speech, or syllables of long words that are reduced.

Later, I realized that a lot of books did something else. They used the ^ for the sound in "cup" and the schwa for the reduced sound. Now, to be more in line with the dictionaries, I use the ^ for the sound in "cup" as well. According to the dictionaries, the schwa is the unstressed sound. For me, the unstressed sound is a little different than what I always thought a schwa sound was, but it's not a big distinction, and I think it varies according to speakers.

As with most anything, it all depends on your viewpoint. I think the standard answer books give to that question is that ^ is stressed and schwa is not.
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ChiSquare8



Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats is how I also learned it!
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Chercheuse



Joined: 27 May 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me too: Same sound but schwa for unstressed vowels and turned v (or caret) for stressed vowels.
So: The vowel in but is ^ and the "a" in majority is schwa.
The two symbols are often used interchangeably, though. But I think I see schwa more often in print. I tend to use schwa only with my students, so as not to confuse the matter with another symbol. But then again, it seems strange to write but phonetically with a schwa because I have ingrained in my mind that schwa is for reduced syllables.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1370
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

However, if I say "but" in a sentence, with regular (U.S.) native speaker reductions and not stressed, it sounds different (unstressed and reduced) so there is something to making a distinction between them in some way.

(He wanted to go to the store, but he didn't. for example)
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a nice topic.

I've read somewhere that the /^/ sound occurs in Portuguese too, like the first 'a' in cama (bed). I used take for granted these three sounds that dictionaries show: /^/ as in cup ; /schwa/ as in about and /3:/ as in bird for in fact they are very close, when checking words out I simply copy them down and can't figure them out (that is, I can't spot any difference between them if I come across them in speech.)

What I've also read is that /schwa/ is in line with /e/ while /3:/ is placed a little below and /^/ is the lowest one. Does it happen in reality?

Josť


Last edited by Metamorfose on Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Richard



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree: At least in most American varieties, the /^/ is a different sound than unstressed schwa. The difference is not merely in the stress/nonstress.
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