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In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...

linguistics
, specifically
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lang ...

phonetics
and
phonology Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...

phonology
, schwa (, rarely or ; sometimes spelled shwa) is the
mid central vowel The mid central vowel (also known as schwa In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...
sound (rounded or unrounded) in the middle of the
vowel chart A vowel diagram or vowel chart is a schematic arrangement of the vowels. Depending on the particular language being discussed, it can take the form of a triangle or a quadrilateral. Vertical position on the diagram denotes the vowel height, vowel ...
, denoted by the
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
symbol , or another
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
sound close to that position. It is the vowel sound produced when the lips, tongue, and jaw are completely relaxed. An example in English is the vowel sound of the in the word ''about''. Schwa in English is mainly found in
unstressed In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
positions, but in some other languages it occurs more frequently as a stressed vowel. In relation to certain languages, the name ''schwa'' and the symbol may be used for some other
unstressed In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
and toneless neutral vowel, not necessarily mid central.


Etymology

The term schwa was introduced by German linguists in the 19th century from the
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
(  , classical pronunciation:   ), the name of the sign used to indicate the phoneme. It was first used in English texts between 1890 and 1895. The symbol ⟨ə⟩ was used first by
Johann Andreas Schmeller Johann Andreas Schmeller (6 August 1785 in Tirschenreuth – 27 September 1852 in Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 Ju ...

Johann Andreas Schmeller
for the reduced vowel at the end of the
German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultu ...

German language
name .
Alexander John Ellis Alexander John Ellis, (14 June 1814 – 28 October 1890) was an English mathematician, philology, philologist and early phonetics, phonetician who also influenced the field of musicology. He changed his name from his father's name Sharpe to his ...
, in his Palaeotype alphabet, used it for the similar English sound in ''but'' . The symbol ⟨ə⟩ is an ⟨e⟩ rotated by 180 degrees.


Description

Sometimes the term ''schwa'' is used for any
epenthetic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one t ...
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
, but some languages use different epenthetic vowels. In
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, schwa is the most common vowel sound. It is a
reduced vowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
in many unstressed
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s especially if
syllabic consonant A syllabic consonant or vocalic consonant is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced wit ...
s are not used. Depending on dialect, it may be written using any of the following letters: *⟨a⟩, as in ''about'' *⟨e⟩, as in ''taken'' *⟨i⟩, as in ''pencil'' *⟨o⟩, as in ''memory'' *⟨u⟩, as in ''supply'' *⟨y⟩, as in ''sibyl'' *unwritten, as in ''rhythm'' Schwa is a very short neutral vowel sound and, like all other vowels, its precise quality varies depending on the adjacent
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s. In most varieties of English, schwa occurs almost exclusively in unstressed syllables (, as in ''bud'' and ''luck'', is sometimes analysed as a stressed variant of , particularly for North American English). In
New Zealand English New Zealand English (NZE) is the dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phenomena: * One usage refers to a of a ...
, the high front lax vowel (as in the word ''bit'' ) has shifted open and back to sound like schwa, and both stressed and unstressed schwas exist. To a certain extent, that is true for
South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or B ...
as well. In
General American English General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of var ...
, schwa and are the two vowel sounds that can be r-colored (rhotacized); r-colored schwa is used in words with unstressed ⟨er⟩ syllables, such as ''dinner''. See also
stress and vowel reduction in English Stress is a prominent feature of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leadi ...
.
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
uses the letter ⟨y⟩ to represent schwa, which is a phonemic vowel rather than the realisation of an unstressed vowel. The letter ⟨y⟩ represents schwa in all positions except in final syllables where it represents or . For example, the word ''ysbyty'' ("hospital") is pronounced . Quite a few languages have a sound similar to schwa. It is similar to a short
French
French
unaccented ⟨e⟩, which is rounded and less central, more like an
open-mid An open-mid vowel (also mid-open vowel, low-mid vowel, mid-low vowel or half-open vowel) is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned one third o ...
or
close-mid front rounded vowel The close-mid front rounded vowel, or high-mid front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sou ...
. It is almost always unstressed, but
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...

Albanian
,
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

Bulgarian
,
Slovene Slovene or Slovenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Slovenia, a country in Central Europe * Slovene language, a South Slavic language mainly spoken in Slovenia * Slovenes, an ethno-linguistic group mainly living in Slovenia * Sla ...
and
Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
are some of the languages that allow stressed schwas. In most dialects of
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
unstressed ⟨a⟩ and ⟨o⟩
reduce Reduce is a general-purpose computer algebra system geared towards applications in physics. The development of the Reduce computer algebra system was started in the 1960s by Anthony C. Hearn. Since then, many scientists from all over the world have ...
to either or schwa. In dialects of Kashubian a schwa occurs in place of the
Old Polish Old Polish language ( pl, język staropolski) is the period in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic R ...
short consonants ⟨u⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨y⟩. Many
Caucasian languages The Caucasian Caucasian may refer to: Anthropology *Anything from the Caucasus region **Peoples of the Caucasus, humans from the Caucasus region **Languages of the Caucasus, languages spoken in the Caucasus region ** ''Caucasian Exarchate'' ...
and some
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning " ...

Uralic languages
(like
KomiKomi may refer to: Places Greece *Komi, Cyclades, a village on the island of Tinos, part of the municipality Exomvourgo *Komi, Elis, a settlement in the municipality of Vouprasia Iran *Komi, Iran, a village in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran Japan ...

Komi
) also use phonemic schwa, and allow schwas to be stressed. In the Eastern dialects of
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
, including the standard variety, based in the dialect spoken in and around
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within ci ...

Barcelona
, an unstressed or is pronounced as a schwa (called , 'neutral vowel'). A stressed schwa can occur in the Catalan dialects spoken in the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
, as well as in
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
, as in ('broom'). In
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...
and some
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...
dialects of
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, the schwa occurs in many unstressed syllables that end in , such as ('night'), ('afternoon'), ('peach'), and ('sin'). However, that is rare in
Brazilian Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese (', or ', ) is the set of dialects of the Portuguese language native to Brazil and the most influential form of Portuguese worldwide. It is spoken by almost all of the 200 million inhabitants of Brazil and spoken widely acr ...
except in such areas as
Curitiba Curitiba () is the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state The federative units of Brazil ( pt, unidades federativas do Brasil) are subnational entities with a certain degree of autonomy (self-government, self-regulation and self-co ...

Curitiba
in Paraná. In
Neapolitan
Neapolitan
, a final, unstressed , and unstressed and are pronounced as a schwa: ('pizza'), ('week'), ('orange'). The inherent vowel in the
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida, based on the ancient Brahmi script, ''Brāhmī'' sc ...

Devanagari
script, an
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez language, Ge'ez: አቡጊዳ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental Writing systems#Segmental writing system, writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are writt ...
used to write
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, North India. Hindi has been described as a Standard la ...

Hindi
,
Marathi Marathi may refer to: *Marathi people, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group of Maharashtra, India *Marathi language, the Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people *Palaiosouda, also known as Marathi, a small island in Greece See also

...
,
Nepali
Nepali
and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
, is a schwa, written either in isolation or word-initially. Other characters used to represent this sound include in
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
, in Romanian, and in Albanian. In Bulgarian
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, Uralic languages, Uralic, Caucas ...
, the letter , which has a very different orthographic function in Modern Russian, is used. In languages such as
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
and
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
there is no such sound that would resemble the "schwa" characteristics. Some linguist would like to introduce the schwa in the Italian language as a neutral suffix (to be use in place of male or female suffix), as a way to solve culture gender issues providing a more inclusive language. In most Sanskrit-based languages, the schwa is the implied vowel after every consonant and so has no didactic marks. For example, in Hindi, the character ⟨ क ⟩ is pronounced /kə/ without marking, but ⟨ के ⟩ is pronounced /ke/ (like "kay") with a marking. A subscript small schwa (in
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
as ) is used in phonetic transcription
Indo-European studies Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics and an interdisciplinary field of study dealing with Indo-European languages, both current and extinct. The goal of those engaged in these studies is to amass information about the hypothetical prot ...
.


Examples


Albanian

In
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...

Albanian
, schwa is represented by the letter , which is also one of the letters of the
Albanian alphabet The Albanian alphabet ( sq, alfabeti shqip) is a variant of the Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the stud ...
, coming right after the letter . It can be stressed like in words and ('sweet' and 'dream', respectively).


Armenian

In
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
, schwa is represented by the letter (capital ). It is occasionally word-initial but usually word-final, as a form of the definite article. Unwritten schwa sounds are also inserted to split initial consonant clusters; for example, () 'sparrow'.


Azerbaijani

In the
Azerbaijani alphabet The Azerbaijani alphabet ( az, Azərbaycan əlifbası, آذربایجان الفباسی, Азəрбајҹан әлифбасы) has three versions. North Azerbaijani, the official language of Republic of Azerbaijan A republic ( la, res publ ...
, the schwa character is used, but to represent the sound.


Bulgarian

In the
Bulgarian language #REDIRECT Bulgarian language #REDIRECT Bulgarian language Bulgarian (, ; bg, label=none, български, bălgarski, ) is a South Slavic languages, South Slavic language spoken in Southeastern Europe, primarily in Bulgaria. It is the lang ...

Bulgarian language
, schwa exists as a sound. It is written with the letter
ъ
ъ
.


Catalan

In
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
, schwa is represented by the letters or in unstressed syllables: ('father'), . In the Balearic Islands, the sound is sometimes also in stressed vowels, ('pear').


Dutch

In
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, the digraph in the suffix , as in ('probably'), is pronounced as a schwa. If an falls at the ultimate (or penultimate) place before a consonant in Dutch words and is unstressed, it becomes a schwa, as in the verb ending () and the diminutive suffix (). The article "een" ('a ) is pronounced using the schwa, , while the number "een" ('one') or "één" is pronounced .


German

In
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, schwa is represented by the letter and occurs only in unstressed syllables, as in . Schwa is not native to Bavarian dialects of German spoken in Southern Germany and Austria. Vowels that are realized as schwa in Standard German change to , , or . In compound words, like , and borrowed terms, like , unstressed is not reduced and retains its usual value of (if long) or (if short).


Kashubian

In Kashubian schwa is represented by the letter , it derives from historical short ''u'' and ''i'' vowels, and thus may alternate with ''u'' and ''i'' stemming from historical long vowels in different grammatical forms of a given word. It never appears word initially, except for the word ''ë (and)'' and its derivates.


Korean

The schwa is rarely used in
Korean phonology This article is a technical description of the phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists w ...
. It is an alternative form of . For example, () .


Madurese

In Madurese, an in some words, usually in non-final position, would be pronounced as the schwa. When writing Madurese in its traditional
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez language, Ge'ez: አቡጊዳ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental Writing systems#Segmental writing system, writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are writt ...
,
Hanacaraka
Hanacaraka
, such words would not be written with a vowel diacritic denoting a schwa. Nowadays, even after the
Madurese people The Madurese (sometimes Madurace or Madhure; also known as Orang Madura and Suku Madura in Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of ...
have adopted the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
, such writing fashion is still used. Examples are: * () – Javanese,
Java Island Java ( id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗꦮ; su, ) is one of the Greater Sunda Islands The Greater Sunda Islands are four tropical islands situated within Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also kn ...
* () – sea, ocean * () – to sail * () –
Surabaya Surabaya (; Javanese : ꦱꦸꦫꦧꦪ read : Suråbåyå; Van Ophuijsen Spelling (Old Spelling) : Soerabaja) is the capital of the Indonesian province of East Java East Java ( id, Jawa Timur) is a province A province is almost always ...

Surabaya
* () – Madurese,
Madura Island Madura is an Indonesian island off the northeastern coast of Java (island), Java. The island comprises an area of approximately 4,078.67 km2 (administratively 5,168 km2 including various smaller islands to the east and north). Administrat ...
* () –
Moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of Earth (comparable to the width of Australia (continent), Australia), it is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its plane ...

Moon


Malay

In the
Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Indonesia ** Native Indonesians, diverse groups of local inhabitants of the archipelago ** Indonesian ...

Indonesian
variant, schwa is always unstressed except for
Jakarta Jakarta (; ), officially the Special Capital Region of Jakarta ( id, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta), is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the lette ...

Jakarta
-influenced informal Indonesian, whose schwa can be stressed. In final closed syllables in the formal register, the vowel is (the final syllable is usually the second syllable since most Indonesian root words consist of two syllables). In some cases, the vowel is pronounced as a stressed schwa (only when the vowel is located between two consonants in a syllable), but never in formal speech: * ('come'), pronounced , and often informally written as . * ('viscous'), pronounced . * ('black'), pronounced , informally written as . * ('deep', 'in'), pronounced , often written as . * ('night'), pronounced , informally written as . Indonesian orthography formerly used unmarked only for the schwa sound, and the full vowel was written . Malaysian orthography, on the other hand, formerly indicated the schwa with (called ), and unmarked stood for . In the 1972 spelling reform that unified Indonesian and Malaysian spelling conventions ('' Ejaan yang Disempurnakan'', regulated by
MABBIM MABBIM (shortform for ''Majlis Bahasa Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia'' - "Language Council of Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia") is a regional language organisation which is formed to plan and monitor the development of the Malay language Malay (; ms ...
), it was agreed to use neither diacritic.Asmah Haji Omar, There is no longer an orthographic distinction between and ; both are spelled with an unmarked . For example, the word for 'wheeled vehicle' in Indonesia and Malaysia, which was formerly spelled in Indonesia and in Malaysia, is now spelled in both countries. This means that the pronunciation of any given letter in both Indonesian and Malaysian variants is not immediately obvious to the learner and must be learned separately. However, in a number of Indonesian dictionaries and lesson books for foreign learners, the notation is preserved to help learners. In Southern Malaysian pronunciation, which is predominant in common Malaysian media, the final letter represents schwa, and final stands for . The dialect of
Kedah Kedah (; JawiJawi may refer to: People and languages *Australia: **Jawi dialect, a nearly extinct Australian aboriginal language **Jawi people, an Australian Aboriginal people of the Kimberley coast of Western Australia, who speak or spoke th ...
in northern Malaysia, however, pronounces final as also. In loanwords, a non-final short /a/ may become schwa in Malay such as (

Norwegian

In
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
, the schwa is often found in the last syllable of definite, masculine nouns, as in ('the man'), as well as in infinitive verbs like ('bite').


Romanian

In
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
, schwa is represented by the letter , , which is considered a letter on its own (the second in the
Romanian alphabet The Romanian alphabet is a variant of the Latin alphabet used for writing the Romanian language. It is a modification of the classical Latin alphabet and consists of 31 letters, five of which (Ă, Â, Î, Ș, and Ț) have been modified from their ...
). It can be stressed in words in which it is the only vowel such as ('hair' or 'pear tree') or ('I see'). Some words which also contain other vowels can have the stress on : ('the books') and ('rooms').


Serbo-Croatian

In
Serbo-Croatian Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language The South Slavic languages are one of three branche ...
, schwa is not a phoneme, but it is often colloquially used to pronounce names of consonants. For example, the official name of the letter is pronounced , but in everyday speech, it is often called .


Welsh

The schwa is denoted in
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
by the letter . It is a very common letter as is the definite article with being the definite article if the following word starts with a vowel.


Yiddish

Schwa is normally represented in
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the ...

Yiddish
by the (
Ayin ''Ayin'' (also ''ayn'' or ''ain''; transliterated ) is the sixteenth letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that i ...

Ayin
) and, as in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, occurs only in unstressed syllables, as in () /ɡəˈfɪltə fɪʃ/ ('stuffed fish'). In words derived from
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, which retain their original orthography but undergo significant phonological change, schwa may be represented by another letter, as in () ('
rabbi A rabbi () is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civili ...

rabbi
'), or by no letter at all, as in שבת () ('
Shabbat Shabbat (, , or ; he, שַׁבָּת, Šabat, , ) or the Sabbath, also called Shabbos ( yi, שבת) by , is 's day of rest on the seventh day of the —i.e., . On this day, religious remember the biblical stories describing the and the redem ...

Shabbat
').


Schwa syncope

In phonology, syncope is the process of deleting unstressed sounds, particularly unstressed vowels. Across languages, schwa vowels are commonly deleted in some instances, such as in
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, North India. Hindi has been described as a Standard la ...

Hindi
,
North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes ...
, and
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the ...
.


Hindi

Although the
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida, based on the ancient Brahmi script, ''Brāhmī'' sc ...

Devanagari
script is used as a standard to write Modern Hindi, the schwa (, sometimes written as ) implicit in each consonant of the script is "obligatorily deleted" at the end of words and in certain other contexts. The phenomenon has been termed the "schwa deletion rule" of Hindi. One formalization of the rule has been summarized as ''ə → ∅ /VC_CV''. In other words, when a vowel-preceded consonant is followed by a vowel-succeeded consonant, the schwa inherent in the first consonant is deleted. However, the formalization is inexact and incomplete (it sometimes deletes a schwa that exists, and it fails to delete some schwas that it should) and so can yield errors. Schwa deletion is computationally important because it is essential to building
text-to-speech Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech Speech is human vocal communication using language. Each language uses Phonetics, phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words (that is, all ...
software for Hindi. As a result of schwa syncope, the correct Hindi pronunciation of many words differs from that expected from a literal rendering of Devanagari. For instance, is (expected: ), is (expected: ), is (expected: ) and is (expected: ). Correct schwa deletion is critical also because the same Devanagari letter sequence can sometimes be pronounced two different ways in Hindi depending on the context: failure to delete the appropriate schwas can then change the meaning. For instance, the sequence in ("the heart started beating") and in ("beats of the heart") is identical prior to the nasalization in the second usage. However, it is pronounced ''dhadak.ne'' in the first and ''dhad.kaneṁ'' in the second. While native speakers correctly pronounce the sequence differently in different contexts, non-native speakers and voice-synthesis software can make them "sound very unnatural", making it "extremely difficult for the listener" to grasp the intended meaning.


American English

Some forms of American English have the tendency to delete a schwa when it appears in a mid-word syllable that comes after the stressed syllable. Kenstowicz (1994) states, "American English schwa deletes in medial posttonic syllables". He gives as examples words such as ''sep(a)rate'' (as an adjective), ''choc(o)late'', ''cam(e)ra'' and ''elab(o)rate'' (as an adjective), where the schwa (represented by the letters in parentheses) has a tendency to be deleted. Other examples include ''fam(i)ly'' , ''ev(e)ry'' , and ''diff(e)rent'' .


French

Schwa is deleted in certain positions in .


References


Further reading

* *{{cite web , url=http://www.vanoostendorp.nl/fonologie/schwaip.htm , title=Schwa in Phonological Theory , access-date=2008-01-29 , author=Marc van Oostendorp , year=1999 Niqqud Vowels