Both O's in COLOMBIA sound alike to me. Yet the first one is supposedly a schwa and the second a [^].
The "u" in M[U]LTIMEDIA also sounds to me like the second O in COLOMBIA.
Yep, that's how I say them: the "supposed" way but I also say mOultimi:di:^
The upside-down v sound in the IPA is extremely close to the central unstressed vowel (schwa). The v sound is pronounced with the tongue just a tiny bit further back and lower.
The difference between these two sounds is so small that it can be very difficult to hear, even for native speakers, and many native speakers produce them interchangeably in all syllables where they occur. In theory, the v sound is a stressed vowel, and the schwa is unstressed, but to me this seems more like academic nitpicking than anything consistently supported by real-world phonology. In any case, there are no minimal pairs in English that contrast the v sound with the schwa, so you need not learn to make the distinction, and you don't have to recognize it when you hear it (many native speakers certainly don't).
Note also that in many cases a vowel in English can change from unstressed to stressed in a specific utterance just because the speaker happens to emphasize it. For example, sometimes if I pronounce Colombia very deliberately the first vowel moves away from a schwa, whereas if I pronounce it rapidly both vowels tend to move towards that magic schwa sound. In many words this type of change has no effect on comprehension (there are no minimal pairs to worry about) which is why speakers can get away with this practice. What it does make clear is that it's not something that one need worry a lot about. And certainly one should not worry about hearing or pronouncing the distinction between the v sound and the schwa. Different regional variants of English often tend to favor the schwa more or less, further demonstrating how unimportant the distinction is from a phonemic standpoint.
Mi5 Mick sez:
<<but I also say mOultimi:di:^>>
Yep, that's what I hear also, as well as the vowel in H[A]LL.
It's very similar to a Spanish O sound. That's what I don't get. [^] sounds to me most of the time as a Spanish A sound but in words where [^] precedes the letter L it tends like a Spanish O. Very confusing. For example in the word B[U]T the [^] is clearly very similar to a Spanish A sound but in HULL and MULTIMEDIA is closer to an O Spanish sound.
In GAE, Americans will usually say [mVltimidi@] or [m@ltimidi@]; some will say -[midiA] as well.
The vowel in "hall" varies from one pronunciation to another. In GAE, you'll usually hear [hOl] or [hAl] or sometimes other vowels, but never a schwa or [V], because that would sound like "hull." The former two vowels are all low back vowels, with lips rounded. You can pronounce a Spanish A and then round the lips to get the [hAl] sound.
This would all be vastly simpler and much less ambiguous if there were some way to use the full International Phonetic Alphabet in this discussion forum. Unfortunately, computer technology hasn't quite reached that point.
Mxsmanic writes ''In any case, there are no minimal pairs in English that contrast the v sound with the schwa, so you need not learn to make the distinction''
Mxsmanic, ''Suspect'' the noun and ''suspect'' the verb is a minimal pair for the ''u'' sound in ''sun'' vs. the schwa sound.
The distinction between the noun and verb in this case, as in many others, is in the stress pattern, not the vowel quality. Proof of this is that many speakers use [@] and [V] interchangeably in these positions, without any impact on comprehension.
The Spanish O is like the closed O in "hall", "war", "tore", "clause", "lawn" in my accent (Australian). As you say, [^] is a Spanish A (in my accent again). Before an L this changes a little; I would describe this in-between sound element as a schwa and my schwa in this position is as you wrote - Spanish O. ie. [h^o:l] but this [o:] is minute (very small). That's why it's called the "dark L".
As for MULTIMEDIA: I pronounce it MOul... or M^l... which you supposed was slightly different to [b^] in BUT. My scwha is affected by L but is normally like the [e:] in TURN.
Mi5 Mick sez:
<<As you say, [^] is a Spanish A (in my accent again).>>
Not identical but close enough I'd say.
Mi5 Mick sez:
<<Before an L this changes a little; I would describe this in-between sound element as a schwa and my schwa in this position is as you wrote - Spanish O.>>
Yep, exactly I'm pretty sure that must be it. I've never heard about the "dark L". I'm gonna do a little bit research on it. Thanks. :-)
Well as I said ^ is in reference to my accent (not American or Irish: where it is more like an excessively open O). For me, the ^ in "but" is identical to "a" in the French word "batte", so I assume it's the same for Spanish.
I just read in another discussion how "miwk" becomes a pronunciation for "milk". This is certainly the case for me at times, and demonstrates what the L does to a preceding vowel, and vice-versa: the vowel to an L.
Mi5 Mick sez:
<<Well as I said ^ is in reference to my accent (not American or Irish: where it is more like an excessively open O). For me, the ^ in "but" is identical to "a" in the French word "batte", so I assume it's the same for Spanish.>>
I'm a quasi-linguist, that's why I tried to make it clear that according to my "ears" the [^] and Spanish A sound sort of a like, that's all. :-) I could be wrong, a real linguist would be able to tell you. ;-) I don't know any French though, so I wouldn't know if it's the same as the French word "batte". :-(
English is a very intricate language, pronunciationwise anyways. It has a lot nuances that might take me a lifetime to learn.
It looks like you've got every other aspect :)
I've never known any foreigners to get the pronunciation like a native because of these nuances. The Scandinavians are usually the best because it seems to mimic their speech patterns.
If it's referring to the country (I guess it is) I have always said: (rightly or wrongly): [col'^m-bi:e:(r)]]
Early this morning I watched the recording from the Olympics and heard the German (supposed but disputed) winner of the equestrian three day eventing competition....Bettina Hoy. Her English was about the best I have ever heard from a non native English speaker. It was flawless and I could only just tell from the faintest trace of an accent in certain words that she was not a native speaker. It was only obvious, as I say, in her pronunciation of certain words, and when she ended her sentences, for some reason. She could almost have passed as a spy in a war thriller or something...but not quite....the avid native ear would have just detected the accent. Anyway, she was brilliant in her English speaking. As so many Continental Europeans are.....pity it doesn't apply to so many UK native speakers :-(