Wednesday 14th September- Sounds

Continuing with out Wednesday voice lessons with Lynn, the purpose of this session is to learn more about voice and how words can be spoken differently just from small changes of letters being placed in words. Another purpose was to learn about a phonetic that is very common in the English language: the schwar. By the end of the session, I want to know more about how letters can really affect words.

At the beginning of the lesson, I did not know what the ‘schwar’ was as when the symbol was written on the board, I was not sure what it was or what it stood for. A schwar is this letter/symbol:

Schwar, a phonetic

I learned from Lynn that this is actually the most common vowel sound in the English language, although it is not an official letter, it has a certain pronunciation. This symbol sounds like an ‘Ah’, but it is important to speak it how you would normally as it can be exaggerated and may not sound correctly. This sound is used in common words in the language including: December, Another and America, the letters underlined are the sounds that this schwar makes and should all make the same sound.

Once we had learned about this, we moved onto other vowels and how they can make a word longer or shorter. For example, a short I will be pronounced shorter, for example, in “Bit” but a longer I will be pronounced longer, as in “Bite”. Other examples include:

  • A: Fat and Hate
  • E: Pet, Eve
  • O: Hop, Hope
  • U: Luck, Luke

In conclusion, I now understand what the schwar symbol is and means, after thinking it through, I now realise that although it is not officially a letter, it is something we include everyday, one other example being ‘appropriate’. I was able to learn what I was hoping to which was thinking about how letters can sound different in different words.

For next week we are required to go on BBC iPlayer and go to ‘The Listening Project’ which records conversations with people from across Britain and the purpose of this exercise is to pick an accent, listen to a phrase and see how it differs to our own, writing down how it sounds. We listened to a couple of examples, the first was two ladies from Glasgow and words that I picked out were “School” (schewl), “hated” (haited) and “live” (lev) with a dark L where the tongue is placed on the soft palette. The other example was a Geordie accent where words I picked out were: “sky” (skay), looking (lookan) and no (norr), what we noticed whilst listening to these words were that they had a glottal stop, so the consonant in the middle of the word wasn’t pronounced (e.g, “working” would sound like ‘woring’.


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