5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Time as a Factor in the Acoustic Variation of Schwa

William J. Barry

University of the Saarland, Germany

Schwa is commonly regarded phonologically as an unspecified vowel, and phonetically as "targetless", i.e., as the product of its context. Methods used in studies investigating the issue are discussed, and it is argued that the evidence for targetlessness is unconvincing. An experiment is presented in which schwa is produced in symmetrical vowel and consonant contexts under varying speech rate conditions. It is shown that the contextual influence on schwa depends on its duration, a result that is not compatible with the concept of a targetless vowel. This conclusion is discussed in relation to the possible phonological status of the target specification.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Barry, William J. (1998): "Time as a factor in the acoustic variation of schwa", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0554.