Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy and this is our 83th podcast, and our 11th video podcast.
Before I begin talking about the schwa+r sound today, I want to mention that Pronuncian is now on Twitter! We'll post every time new content is added to Pronuncian, and you'll never miss a new lesson again. We'll also add other interesting English note Tweets. Our username is just Pronuncian, p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-n, just like the website.
Today's show is an excerpt of Pronuncian's entire schwa+r sound video lesson. Schwa+r basically just sounds like an r sound (r sound). Actually, it is an r sound that also creates a syllable. While most non-native speakers understand and expect the schwa+r sound in words spelled er, ir, and ur, this lesson explains why other vowel+r spellings may be pronounced schwa+r. It may not surprise you that syllable stress is involved!
If you listen closely to all six of those words, you will notice that their vowel sound is taken over by the r sound. In words with schwa+r, only the r sound, and not the vowel, is heard. Listen to the words again:
The schwa+r sound transfers directly from the initial consonant into the r sound. That is the nature of schwa+r. Students that aren't aware that the schwa+r sound has no noticeable vowel will often try to add a vowel sound into the word. Once again, spelling interferes with pronunciation. We see a vowel, but it should not be pronounced.
The schwa+r sounds like (schwa+r). It is an r sound that also creates a syllable.
To create the r sound, as well as schwa+r sound, the tongue arches upward toward the back of the hard palate. The back sides of the tongue curve upward and touch the back teeth, while the center of the tongue remains lower. The tip of the tongue may turn upward, but it must not touch the tooth ridge. The jaw is mid-open.
Listen to the schwa+r again:
There are three common spellings for the schwa+r sound: er, ir, and ur.
Here are some examples of each common spelling.
Syllable stress is another factor in the pronunciation of schwa+r.
On an unstressed syllable, any vowel can come before the letter r and be pronounced as schwa+r. For example, the ar spelling and or spelling have two different common pronunciations, depending on syllable stress.
The ar spelling is usually pronounced (ar sound), as in the words car and far. In the following words, the ar spelling occurs on a stressed syllable, and is pronounced as (ar sound):
The next words are also spelled ar, but are pronounced as schwa+r because the ar spelling is on an unstressed syllable.
The or spelling is usually pronounced (or sound) as in the words corn and form. In the following words, the or spelling occurs on a stressed syllable, and is pronounced as (or sound):
However, when the or spelling occurs on an unstressed syllable, the schwa+r pronunciation is more common. Listen to the following examples:
Remember, any spelling of vowel+r can be pronounced as schwa+r if it falls on an unstressed syllable.
When a word is not pronounced according to common spelling patterns, it is called non-phonetic. There are a number of important non-phonetic words that are pronounced as schwa+r. These words do not follow the common spelling or unstressed syllable patterns for schwa+r, but they are still pronounced as schwa+r.
Remember, do not add a vowel sound into any of the following words:
Let's practice some high-frequency words that contain the schwa+r sound.
I hope the schwa+r sound is now clearer for you. Remember, Pronuncian subscribers have access to the entire video. Just go to the Material tab, and click video lessons. Along with the video, subscribers have access to the new r-controlled vowels minimal set listening exercise and the new r-controlled vowels quiz. The minimal sets and quizzes are a great way to train your ear to hear and identify similar, confusing sounds. After taking the quiz, go to your account information page to find recommendations based on all your quiz results.
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That's all for today. Thanks for listening, everyone.
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