Schwa hits the Big Time!

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Fri May 30 16:42:39 UTC 2008

From:    James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>

> I rather imagine that schoolchildren, at least Canadian ones, have
> likely heard "schwa" at one or more points in their primary and
> secondary careers (I certainly did)... It certainly seems to me
> (though I've been wrong before in such matters) that the common
> Torontonian habit of calling Oshawa, a Toronto suburb, "The Shwa" has
> resonances of this, if not for all users than at least for many. Not
> that I have anything set up to test this speculation, however.

Not just Canadian! My Maryland-raised self heard it mentioned a number
of times (i graduated from high school in 1987).

There's also a young-adolescent novel of some recent popularity that
centers around the concept of the schwa as a reduced sound (which is
explained somewhat in the book, but not enough that it wouldn't help to
have a little bit of knowledge about it beforehand), extended to a
person: The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman (or, as given on the
cover, Neal Shust[schwa]rman), originally published in 2004.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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