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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 11th, 2014, 10:46 pm
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Default Schwa sound in main verbs that also function as auxiliary verbs.

Dear members and teachers:

As to my knowledge, Schwa sound does not occur in verbs unless they are auxiliary verbs in a sentence. I would like to know why sometimes the verb TO BE is reduced to Schwa, even though it is acting as main verb. I find that TO BE is reduced to Schwa in these sentences.

a) I am happy to hear about he. /əm/

b) They were in the city for a tour. /wər/

c) She was the first to know it. /wəz/

d) You are an English and Spanish teacher. /ər/

1) In which cases does the verb TO BE have to be reduced to Schwa sound when it is not an auxiliary verb?

Hoping for you assitance and help in this matter.

Last edited by THE APPRENTICE : Feb 12th, 2014 at 03:50 pm.
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Unread Feb 13th, 2014, 05:03 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: Schwa sound in main verbs that also function as auxiliary verbs.

No. The schwa occurs in unstressed syllables - the word type is irrelevant. For example, I've just used the verb main "occurs" : /ə'kɜ:z/

Some others : remember -/rɪmembə/; understand -/ʌndəstnd/; correct - /kərekt/ etc

Compare the two pronunciations of "was" in the following sentence :

She was there and he was too : /ʃi: wəz 'eə ən hi: 'wɒz 'tu:/

"was" is the main verb in each clause - but what decides the pronunciation is whether or not it's stressed. in unstressed position the weak form /wəz/ is used, and in stressed positions the strong form /wɒz/

Usually, as an auxiliary verb, Be occurs in unstressed position and it's therefore usually reduced. But that doesn't mean it can't occur in stressed position. Again, compare the two pronunciations of "was" in the following sentence, where it's used as an auxiliary. The first time it's unstressed and therefore reduced, the second it's stressed and therefore the strong form is used :

She said she was going and he said he was too : /ʃi: 'sed ʃi: wəz 'gəʊwɪŋ ən hi: 'sed hi: 'wɒz tu:/

Reduction doesn't always mean the schwa though. For example, "he" and "she" in this sentence, which occur in unstressed position, might well be reduced to /ʃɪ/ and /hɪ/. And the present form of the verb Be is more usually contracted, so that the vowel is omitted completely, rather than reduced to a schwa. A typical transcription of your sentences might be :

a) I'm happy to hear about her. /aɪm 'hpɪ tə 'hɪə r ə'baʊt ə/

b) They were in the city for a tour /eɪ wə r ɪn ə 'sɪtɪ fə r ə 'tʊə/

c) She was the first to know it. /ʃi: wəz ə 'fɜ:s tə 'nəʊ w ɪt/

d) You're a teacher of English and Spanish. /jʊə r ə 'ti:ʧə r əv 'ɪŋglɪʃ ən 'spnɪʃ/

(The linking consonants should really be typed in subscript - ie smaller and lower than the others - but the site won't let me do it)
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Last edited by susan53 : Apr 9th, 2014 at 10:18 am.
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Unread Feb 13th, 2014, 01:07 pm
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Default Re: Schwa sound in main verbs that also function as auxiliary verbs.

Thank you Susan53 : You're pretty good at giving explanation!

I'm a native Spanish speaker from Santo Domingo, Dominicana Republic. I began to study phonetics on june 2013, in my country pronunciation is more american accent due to the geografical position.

Are you a linguist?
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Unread Apr 6th, 2014, 12:00 pm
Sue
 
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Default Re: Schwa sound in main verbs that also function as auxiliary verbs.

Just a teacher
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Unread Apr 8th, 2014, 04:58 pm
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Default Re: Schwa sound in main verbs that also function as auxiliary verbs.

You're just not a teacher; you're a very good teacher.
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