How to pronounce the schwa sound in a clear explanation?

Anon   Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:54 am GMT
Most British say "ah" in Jesus, but most Americans say "eh".

Different sounds in this undefined symbol are applied, except ooh, a, e, i, o, and u.

pencil (as the o in pork)
animal (as the i in brick)
ahead (as the e in deck)
Guest   Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:02 am GMT
What was the question? The schwa is much the same in British and American English but "ah" and "eh" don't mean much.

Using @ for a schwa, I have:
Uriel   Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:19 am GMT
Actually, most Americans would say it sounds like "uh".
Josh Lalonde   Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:18 pm GMT
I'm not sure quite what you're asking. The schwa is a neutral reduced vowel. It is produced in the centre of the mouth without rounding the lips. Like Uriel said, most Americans would transcribe it 'uh'. However, many accents have two schwa sounds, one of which is higher. In my accent, it is the same as the vowel in 'kit': [I]. For your examples:

Jesus ["dZizIs]
pencil ["pEnsUo]
animal ["E{nImUo]
ahead [@"hEd]
Guest   Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:36 pm GMT
Josh, first tell me where I can learn, what all these horrible symbols mean. Also, how do you pronounce "schwa"? If it doesnt bother you too much, can you record above words as a sound file?
Liz   Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:44 pm GMT
As you might notice, I'm not Josh, but you can find those "horrible" symbols below:

X-SAMPA is basically IPA epresented by keyboard characters and are quite useful if you want to transcribe something online. However, I haven't mastered it yet, either. :-)
Anon   Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:20 pm GMT
As this reduced vowel is somehow not clear to identify, most British and Americans prefer to call it uh. In fact, it sounds more like eh as in pet to be shortened. The short u as mentioned to be a schwa is not always pronounced in all the words with.
Anon   Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:26 pm GMT
One of the biggest problems to make an easier spelling reform, is to try to eliminate that schwa symbol. If the schwa is always pronounced with the same sound, then the words would be more accurate and precise to spell.
Uriel   Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:17 am GMT
I would disagree with this: "In fact, it sounds more like eh as in pet". The E in "pet" is recognizably a short E, not a schwa. Same with "kit" -- that's a short I, not a schwa.

And Josh, I can't quite imagine what your "ahead" sounds like if you are using a short I anywhere in it! "Ih-head"?
Josh Lalonde   Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:27 am GMT
<<And Josh, I can't quite imagine what your "ahead" sounds like if you are using a short I anywhere in it! "Ih-head"?>>

No, I don't use [I] in 'ahead'. I have a regular schwa [@] instead. [I] is my 'default' reduced vowel in most situations. [@] only occurs in word-final situations (or in words derived from them) and in the prefix 'a-'.
Roses ["r\o.zIz]
Rosa's ["r\o.z@z]
Lenin (the Soviet leader) ["lE.nIn]
Lennon, John ["lE.nIn]
ahead [@"hEd]
above [@"bVv]
Josh Lalonde   Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:21 pm GMT
I recorded some words with a schwa, as requested. You can hear them here:
These are the words I'm saying:

Anon   Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:38 pm GMT