in my native language there are some words written with the letter that represents the phoneme /i/ now in seemingly unstressed syllables I pronounce it like a schwa [ə] or maybe some other similar vowel (I don't know the exact phonetic quality of it) though the original vowel /i/ is restored once a suffix is added to the word, for example.

ბინა/bina "apartment" when Pronounced in isolation is pronounced as [b̥ənɑ] (though sometimes I pronounced as [ˈb̥inɑ]

another word where this vowel allophony takes place in is the word მაშინ/mashin which is Phonetically [mɑʃən~mɑʃin] depending on what context I'm speaking in.

Strangely enough, while I've read about some dialects of Georgian which reduce /i/ and /u/ to a schwa [ə] in some positions I've never heard about anything like that occuring in my dialect (I'm from the capital city Tbilisi)

I previously thought this schwa allophone of /i/ to Have been a lax vowel [ɪ] because it sounded like [e] to my ears before I decided to find out its phonetic quality and it sounded Central/schwa-like.

TLDR: is the process I described a type of vowel reduction?

1 Answer 1


"Vowel reduction" is applied to process where "more becomes less". That can cover merger of phonemic contrasts (/e,i/ → [i]). It is also used to describe phonetic movement of a single phoneme to a target where the quality is "less prominent", for example /a/ → [ə] or /e/ → [ɪ]. Schwa is the canonical reduced vowel that has the least "stuff", so any change to schwa is likely to be called "reduction". Such processes are often associated with prosodic conditions such as "when unstressed", "when short". In a language with a vowel length contrast, a change such as /a:/ → [a] would be more likely termed "vowel shortening", but it can be called a kind of vowel reduction as well.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.