English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was looking up the word "meditative", and in one dictionary, the fourth letter "i" is pronounced "ə", but in another dictionary it is pronounced "ɪ".

I don't know which phonetic symbol I should follow (for British English). I listened to the voice samples in both dictionaries, and they all sound like "ɪ".

I need some guidelines.

share|improve this question
Either one is fine. – Alex B. Sep 5 '12 at 0:05
up vote 1 down vote accepted

These sounds are almost the same, and really are only different for people who pronounce "Rosa's" and "roses" differently.

Phonetically, ə is lower and more open than ɪ, but they are both pretty centralized unstressed schwa-like vowels.

share|improve this answer
Which one for 'roses'? – Mitch Sep 4 '12 at 23:56
@Mitch For those who make the distinction, "Rosa's" is [ɹo:zəz], "roses" is [ɹo:zɪz] – Mark Beadles Sep 5 '12 at 1:13

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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