One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The unstressed central vowel (as in a moment ago), represented by the symbol /ə/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
- ‘In another example, we observed that only 28% of the teachers could correctly identify the sound of a schwa, as represented in the final syllable of the word ‘happen.’’
- ‘The ‘o’ is pronounced like the ‘uh’ that grammarians everywhere know as the ‘English schwa.’’
- ‘Leaving Rome and heading south or east, you find a tendency of shortening non-stressed vowels and reducing them to schwas.’
- ‘Of these, 36 have a clear schwa as their vowel.’
- ‘Although not represented in the conventional alphabet, schwa is the commonest vowel sound in English.’
Late 19th century: from German, from Hebrew šěwā'.
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