- Vowel reduction in English
In English, vowel reduction is the centralization and weakening of an
unstressed vowel, such as the characteristic change of many vowels at the ends of words to schwa. Stressed vowels cannot be reduced.
Schwais the most common reduced vowel in English, and orthographically it may be denoted by any of the vowel letters:
* The "a" in "about".
* The "e" in "synthesis".
* The "o" in "harmony".
* The "u" in "medium".
The following are also schwas, except in dialects that have two distinct reduced vowels (see below).
* The "i" in "decimal".
* The "y" in "syringe".
Whereas the sound represented by the "er" in "water" is a schwa in non-rhotic accents like
Received Pronunciation, in rhotic dialects like most of North American English, "er" designates an r-colored schwa, IPA| [ɚ] , which is pronounced like schwa, except the tongue is pulled back in the mouth and "bunched up".
In some dialects of English there is a distinction between two
vowel heights of reduced vowels, schwa and "barred i," the near-close central unrounded vowelIPA|/ɪ̈/ (or equivalently IPA|/ɨ̞/), sometimes called "schwi". In the British phonetic tradition, this is written IPA|/ɪ/, and in the American tradition IPA|/ɨ/. (The OED has recently ["c." 2005] converted to IPA|/ɪ̵/.) An example of a minimal paircontrasting schwa and barred i:
* The "e" in "roses" is a barred i
* The "a" in "Rosa’s" is a schwa(See
Phonological history of English high front vowels.)
Many dialects also retain rounding in reduced vowels, with IPA|/uː/ and IPA|/ʊ/ reducing to IPA| [ʊ̈] (or equivalently IPA|/ʉ̞/; IPA|/ʊ̵/ in OED transcription), and IPA|/oʊ/ reducing to IPA|/ɵ/.
The other sounds that can serve as the peak of reduced syllables are the
syllabic consonants. The consonants that can be syllabic in English are the nasals IPA|/m/, IPA|/n/, IPA|/ŋ/, and IPA|/l/ (actually a dark l). For example:
* The "m" in "prism" is sometimes a syllabic IPA|/m/.
* The "on" in "button" is a syllabic IPA|/n/ in dialects that pronounce 't' as a
* The word "and" in the phrase "lock and key" in more rapid speech is sometimes pronounced as a syllabic IPA|/ŋ/.
* The "le" in "cycle" and "bottle" is a syllablic IPA|/l/.
These reduced vowels contrast in the word "parallelepipedal" IPAEng|ˌpærəlɛlᵻˈpɪpɛdl̩, and in some dialects "idler" IPA|/ˈaɪdl̩ɚ/.
The vowels and diphthongs IPA|/ɔː/, IPA|/aʊ/, and IPA|/ɔɪ/ are never reduced, and all vowels may occur in unstressed position without reduction, especially in compound words. (These are often transcribed in dictionaries as having secondary stress, but that is a convention for unreduced vowels that occur after the primary stress. See
::note label|reducedlength|a|a Sometimes with reduced length, but nevertheless with unreduced vowel quality
Nonetheless, it is true that some vowels, such as IPA|/ɪ/ and IPA|/ʌ/, reduce quite readily, so that there are not many English words which have them in unstressed positions.
Some English words alternate between having full but unstressed vowels and reduced vowels, depending on context. For example, "the" is typically IPA|/ðiː/ before a vowel-initial word ("the apple") but IPA|/ðə/ before a consonant-initial word ("the pear"), though this distinction is being lost in the United States.Ladefoged, "A Course in Phonetics"] Similarly with "to": "to America" IPA|/tuː/ vs. "to Britain" IPA|/tə/. Most words, however, alternate depending on how much emphasis they are accorded. Some of these are:
*"can": IPA|/kæn/, but also "I can go" IPA|/ˈaɪ kŋ ɡoʊ/,
*"and": IPA|/ænd/, but also "you and me" IPA|/ˌjuː ən ˈmiː/,
*"he": IPA|/hiː/, but also "will he go?" IPA|/ˈwɪl ɪ goʊ/,and so on with "a, at, would, that, has, etc."
There are also a number of English verb-adjective pairs that are distinguished solely by vowel reduction. For example, "separate" as a verb (as in 'what separates nation from nation') has a full final vowel, IPA|/ˈsɛpəreɪt/, whereas the corresponding adjective (as in 'they sleep in separate rooms') has a reduced vowel: IPA|/ˈsɛpərət/. [OED]
Vowel reduction in Russian
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Vowel reduction — is the term in phonetics that refers to various changes in the acoustic quality of vowels, which are related to changes in stress, sonority, duration, loudness, articulation, or position in the word (e.g. for Creek language [… … Wikipedia
Vowel reduction in Russian — Main article: Russian phonology Vowel reduction in Russian differs in the standard language and in dialects. Several ways of reduction (and its absence) are distinguished. There are five vowel phonemes in Standard Russian. Vowels tend to merge… … Wikipedia
English phonology — See also: Phonological history of English English phonology is the study of the sound system (phonology) of the English language. Like many languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In… … Wikipedia
Reduction — Reduction, reduced, or reduce may refer to:cienceChemistry*Reduction – chemical reaction in which atoms have their oxidation number (oxidation state) changed. **Reduced gas – a gas with a low oxidation number **Ore reduction: see… … Wikipedia
Vowel length — IPA vowel length aː aˑ IPA number 503 or 504 Encoding Entity … Wikipedia
English-language vowel changes before historic r — In the phonological history of the English language, vowels followed (or formerly followed) by the phoneme /r/ have undergone a number of phonological changes. In recent centuries, most or all of these changes have involved merging of vowel… … Wikipedia
English language in England — refers to the English language as spoken in England, part of the United Kingdom. There are many different accents and dialects throughout England and people are often very proud of their local accent or dialect, however there are many associated… … Wikipedia
English language — English Pronunciation /ˈ … Wikipedia
Vowel breaking — Sound change and alternation Metathesis Quantitative metathesis … Wikipedia
English as a foreign or second language — ESL redirects here. For other uses, see ESL (disambiguation). An immigrant makes an American breakfast, aided by instructional materials from the YMCA, 1918. English as a second language (ESL), English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and… … Wikipedia