Tag Archives: English schwa

“Prime Ministaw:” Jamaican Rounded Schwa

Most Anglophone Caribbean nations have dialect continua, with an English Creole at one end and some variety of Standard English at the other. I find Jamaica’s continuum particularly fascinating for the ways in which “Jamaican English” (i.e. Standard English as spoken … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Fella, Winder, Tomorrah: ‘-Ow’ Reduction

Back in my musical theatre days, I couldn’t get enough of Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic melodrama Carousel. I’m still a fan, but wish somebody would retool the libretto; many of the show’s lyrics and dialogue are penned in a goofy pseudo-New England … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

American Offglide

The English language is notorious for its diphthongs.  A diphthong, as many of you know, is two vowels combined into a single sound, as in the ‘i‘ in ‘kite’ or the ‘ou‘ in ‘mouth.’ Nearly every vowel of English can be … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Circumstances – Circumstnses

Forgive the trivial nature of today’s post, but I’m curious about a minute detail of British pronunciation. That would be the word ‘circumstance.’ To clarify, when I say ‘British pronunciation’ here, I’m referring to the word’s pronunciation in British RP and … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

That’s the Idear: Intrusive ‘R’

Generations of Americans have puzzled over the British tendency to add ‘r’s where (it seems to us) ‘r’s don’t belong.  This can be found in such phrases as “an idear of it,” “pastar and sauce,” and  “sawr and conquered.”  Termed r insertion (or intrusive r), … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

Jamaican Patois (And English Schwa)

I’ve recently become fascinated with Jamaican Patois, the creole language spoken on the island of the same name.  The language derives from African languages and various dialects of the British Isles spoken in the 17th-Century.  So it offers insight into … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

The Elusive English Schwa

An old trick question:  what is the most common vowel in spoken English? Is it the a in cat? The o in top? The ee in keep? In fact, the answer is the puzzling little sound known as schwa. Schwa … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 39 Comments

“Um” in Different Accents

All dialects of English have “filler” words. Just to name a few: er, ah, um, eh, or the increasingly common like* and you know. We humans are a hesitant bunch, and these words offer brief moments of reflection. What’s interesting … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments