Tell me again why you want to be a schwa. Perhaps it’s because you think it’s never stressed? Well, think again!

ə and ʌ: If you know those two symbols, can you hear the difference?

(If you don’t know them, think about the English word above. It has two vowel sounds (as the third vowel letter is silent): the first is called a schwa, symbol “ə”; the second is sometimes called a turned “v”, symbol “ʌ” So now can you hear the difference?)

Some Americans say yes, some say no.

Geoff Lindsey has produced a great video explaining all this. It’s funny, interesting, extremely thorough, and filled with a remarkable number of examples taken from a remarkable number of sources. Go watch it: it’s well worth 14 minutes of your life!

“But wait!” you say. “Why focus on American English? What about English as she is spoke in the UK, in Ireland, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, in South Africa, and so forth?” Why, indeed. For that you need to watch Lindsey’s follow-up video, just 11 minutes this time—and you can afford 11 minutes, can’t you?—explaining these two vowel sounds, or perhaps it’s just one vowel sound—in Englishes around the world.


Categories: Linguistics