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Final schwa and R-sandhi in RP English


By: Barry Heselwood

An analysis of final schwa as a vocalised allophone of /r/ in RP English is presented. Phonetic similarity of [ǝ] and [ɹ], their distribution, and the phenomenon of R-sandhi are used as evidence to support the analysis. The continuous presence since fully rhotic times of stem-final /r/ in the context of a following vowel-initial suffix or word, and the merger of commA words with lettER words beginning around the time of loss of rhoticity in the eighteenth century, are key factors in the analysis.

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