Sometimes there are words that are foreign, and a bit hard for anglophones to articulate. Such as "Dvorak", or "dvelja". When trying to refer to these words in our conversation, sometimes an extra vowel is added between the two consonants, so that it is easier to pronounce. For example, "Dvorak" is pronounced "D-ə-vo-zhak". Also, "bdellium" is pronounced "b-ə-de-llium"

Is there actually a term for this addition of vowel?

  • >> "we tend to add an extra vowel between the two consonants" -- Who is "we" and what vowel is being added between which consonants? I normally don't add any vowels to "Dvorak". Can you substantiate that claim and provide a few samples?
    – teylyn
    Jun 1, 2011 at 10:56
  • Actually, what raised the question was when I heard "Dvorak" pronounced on the radio like that, except it was done rather quickly.
    – Thursagen
    Jun 1, 2011 at 11:00
  • @z7sg, I understand that what I put up there isn't actually the correct pronounciation, but that is what people sometimes do. I'm just using it as an example.
    – Thursagen
    Jun 1, 2011 at 11:02
  • 1
    OK, just as a note because laziness about foreign names is a pet hate of mine Dvorak is pronounced /ˈdvɔrʒɑːk/ (dvor-ZHAK).
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 1, 2011 at 11:09
  • 1
    @z7sg - That's not quite true: there are actually patterns in English as to where the stress would tend to go. The patterns are quite complex, so for the sake of simplicity, it's common for learners to just to learn by rote which syllable is stressed. But to a native speaker encountering a word for the first time, there are strong tendencies to "automatically" place the stress on a particular syllable depending on the phonemic content of the word. Jun 2, 2011 at 1:30

2 Answers 2


This is called epenthesis.

In phonology, epenthesis (/əˈpɛnθəsɪs/, Ancient Greek ἐπένθεσις - epenthesis, from epi "on" + en "in" + thesis "putting") is the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word.


Another term for this vowel is "shewa" or "schwa", from the Hebrew vowel system. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwa

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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