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THE APPRENTICE Feb 5th, 2014 08:36 pm

Elision of Schwa sound.
Dear teachers and members:

1°) In regard to consonant clusters, the alveolar lateral approximant consonant /l/ and the alveolar approximant consonant /r/ when combined with some other consonants, it sounds as if they were only one consonant, for example:

a) /cr/ as in CRIME /kraɪm/ b) /br/ as in BRIBE /braɪb/

c) /pl/ as in PLACE /pleɪs/ d) /gl/ as in GLUE /ɡluː/

2°) In american English pronunciation (AmE) as I think in british English too (BrE), when a Schwa sound is between a consonant and an alveolar approximant consonant whether it be /l/ or /r/, the word may be pronounced with the Schwa sound, but the Schwa sound is mostly elided. I would like to know why this happen, and if those consonants have something to do with that, for example:

a) Separate /ˈsɛpərɪt/ mostly sounds as /ˈsɛprɪt/

b) Several /ˈsɛvərəl/ mostly sounds as /ˈsɛvrəl/

c) Different /ˈdɪfərənt/ mostly sounds as /ˈdɪfrənt/

d) Chocolate /ˈtʃɒkəlɪt/ mostly sounds as /ˈtʃɒklɪt/

e) Counselor /ˈkaʊnsələr/ mostly sounds as /ˈkaʊnslər/

f) Basically /ˈbeɪsɪkəlɪ/ mostly sounds as /ˈbeɪsɪklɪ/

3°) I think that the elision of Schwa sound occurring in the following words, it is a metathesis. I would like to know if there is a rule for that to happen or if it is an exception to a phonetic rule.

a) Comfortable /ˈkʌmfərtəbəl/ sounds like /ˈkʌmftəbəl/

b) Vegetable /ˈvɛdʒətəbəl/ sounds like /ˈvɛdʒtəbəl/

c) Diaper /ˈdaɪəpər/ sounds like /ˈdaɪpər/

d) Diamond /ˈdaɪəmənd/ sounds like /ˈdaɪmənd/

e) Disappearance /ˌdɪsəˈpɪərəns/ sounds like /ˌdɪsəˈpɪrəns/

4°) I also find the elision of Schwa sound in some verbs ending in ''ear'', ''are'' and ''air'', as well as in some nouns (care, share, etc,):

a) Swear /swɛər/ sounds like /swɛr/

b) Wear /wɛər/ sounds like /wɛr/

c) Bear /bɛər/ sounds like /bɛr/

d) Compare /kəmˈpɛər/ sounds like /kəmˈpɛr/

e) Declare /dɪˈklɛər/ sounds like /dɪˈklɛr/

f) Share /ʃɛər/ sounds like /ʃɛr/

g) Despair /dɪˈspɛər/ sounds like /dɪˈspɛr/

h) Repair /rɪˈpɛər/ sounds like /rɪˈpɛr/

i) Impair /ɪmˈpɛər/ sounds like /ɪmˈpɛr/

Your assistance and cooperation will be greatly appreciated

Very sincerely,

The Apprentice.

susan53 Feb 13th, 2014 04:46 am

Re: Elision of Schwa sound.
1. I don't agree that they sound like one consonant - for me, there are plainly two. However this doesn't affect the rest of what you say. But I don't understand what your question is?

2. The schwa is by definition a weak sound (it occurs only in unstressed syllables) and is therefore unstable - weaken the syllable any more and it disappears entirely - which is what happens here and in all the other examples you give. The exact consonants are irrelevant - see 3.

3. Metathesis is the "rearrangement" of sounds in a word and is fairly rare, I think, outside a couple of common examples which occur in certain accents only - eg " asked" /ɑ:kst/ rather than /ɑ:skt/ in some US varieties. It's completely different from elision, which is the omission of a sound or sounds, and which is what is happening in all your examples - the schwa is elided. As I said above, the exact consonants involved are irrelevant, I think. I'd group your examples a + b under group 2 (ie elision of schwa between two consonants) and c-e under group 4 (reduction of a dipthong to a monopthong). I don't think these examples form a separate group of their own.

4. Your transcription is off here. You're mixing a phonetic symbol [ɛ] with phonemic symbols - which you shouldn't really do. The standard phonemic transcription (ignoring the rhotic /r/) would be :

a) Swear /sweə/

b) Wear /weə/

c) Bear /beə/

d) Compare /kəmˈpeə/

e) Declare /dɪˈkleə/

f) Share /ʃeə/

g) Despair /dɪˈspeə/

h) Repair /rɪˈpeə/

i) Impair /ɪmˈpeə/

In other words, all these words use the dipthong /eə/. I understand the change you're talking about though - in rapid connected speech the dipthong might well be reduced towards a monopthong, so it sounds as if the schwa has been elided. But it happens with other dipthongs too. See the answers to 3.

THE APPRENTICE Feb 13th, 2014 12:14 pm

Re: Elision of Schwa sound.
Thanks Susan53

Your exposition is magnificent.

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