I'm not sure if the nonsyllabic voiceless schwa (ə̯̊ ) occurs in any natural language, but are there any recordings of it being said out there, nonetheless? I would like to learn how to say it.

Maybe it's "hiding" in an English or Spanish (the two languages I speak) word?

I've been trying myself, but not sure if I'm doing it right!

1 Answer 1


In phonetic transcriptions, [h] is used for a non-syllabic voiceless vowel with quality the same as the neighboring vowel in the same syllable. (Sometimes this convention is extended from vowels to liquids and glides, as in [hwat] for "what".) Consequently, the first sound in an ordinary American English pronunciation of "Hawaii" with the unstressed vowel of the first syllable reduced to schwa is what you seek.

  • Vowel cannot be non-syllabic.
    – Anixx
    Jun 3, 2016 at 8:54
  • 1
    @Anixx, We could reasonably refer to a vowel which is made non-syllabic as a "glide" rather than a "vowel", as a matter of terminology. There could be a problem with the feature [-vocalic] which glides are supposed to have in the SPE system.
    – Greg Lee
    Jun 3, 2016 at 16:17

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