Date: Tue, 25 Jun 1996 13:58:20 -0400


Subject: variation in unstressed vowels

Is this an accurate description?

In standard varieties of American English the first syllable of "enough" may

vary between a full (/ee/) or a reduced quality (schwa or /ih/). The same is

true of words with prefixes de-, re-, pre-, and ex- (expect, etc. which

varies between full /eks-/ and reduced /iks-/). But in another group of

words, unstressed syllables do not vary. They must have the reduced schwa

(oppose, offend, condemn). What's interesting is that on stage you'll hear

Shakespearean actors pronouncing words like "offend" with a full-blown /oh/

instead of the usual schwa- in what is sometimes called "mannered" speech.

My questions are- are their standard varieties in which enough, etc. do not

vary, and are their standard varieties where offend, etc. do vary. Does

anyone know any studies on this?

Dale Coye

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Princeton, NJ