This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Nuts and Bolts: schwa.

You're always using schwa, you are.

No, really, you do it all the time. For that matter, so do I. I used it once in that last sentence, for instance. And twice in that one.

Schwa is the sound someone old makes when they sit down.

It's the vowel-sound in the, and in the accent of South-East England it's found at the end of tiger, cheetah, and jaguar, and also at the front of astonish.

As these examples show, schwa pops up all over the place in many different guises. In the word rhythm it doesn't actually appear at all. In Hindi writing there are all sorts of complicated rules which mean that a lot of the time the sound schwa has to be left out.

Schwa makes spelling a lot harder than it might be, but I suppose it does make speaking rather easier.

So I think we should all make a point of enjoying saying our schwas today.

Sound to enjoy today: schwa. The word schwa is from the Hebrew word shva, which is the name of a Hebrew vowel.

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