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Schwa and [V]: Learning the IPA

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 13, 2006, 14:15
This has the potential to lead to another YAEPT, for which I
apologize, but that is not my main point.

For a long time, I thought that I pronounced the English phoneme /V/ -
that is, the vowel in Wells' STRUT lexical set - as, in fact, [V] (IPA
[ʌ]).   As a consequence of this belief, I did not believe in the
phoneticity of [@] (IPA [ə]), since every realization of /@/ in my
'lect is clearly just an unstressed version of various other vowels.
(Most of those realizations seem common enough, although I don't
recall seeing anyone else who claimed that the vowel in unstressed
"the" was [U] (IPA [ʊ]), as mine seems to be...)

Anyway. then I saw an IPA vowel chart and noticed that [V] is
positioned as the unrounded version of cardinal [O] (IPA [ɔ]), which
didn't sound right - especially since [O] doesn't exist in my 'lect at
all(*).  The advantage of this lack is that, since I had had to learn
how to pronounce [O] as a "foreign" sound, I'm relatively confident in
my pronunciation of it.  And when I unround it, what I get is not my
/V/ vowel.  From this I assumed that perhaps my /V/ was really a
stressed [@], rather than my original belief in the reverse (that my
generic /@/ realization was an unstressed version of [V]).

But just today I noticed that my /V/ is more *open* than  IPA [V].
IPA [@] is closer than IPA [V], so there goes that theory.  I'm now
somewhat at a loss.  I'm no longer sure of, well, any of my ideas of
what the IPA vowels sound like, really; the seed of doubt has been
planted.  But especially about my /V/.   Is it possible that my whole
life I've been pronouncing /V/ as [6] (IPA [ɐ])?

Ultimately, what I'd like to do is learn the IPA sounds in a reliable
manner.  Listening to sound files just doesn't work for me; I want to
know how to produce them reliably.  Any tips?  Any chance of finding
someone who can do it and studying at their feet?

Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>

(*) Not even in words like "ball" [bAl] or "law" ([lQ:])


taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>
Tristan Alexander McLeay <conlang@...>
David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>