1

Can somebody tell me when the sounds 'schwa' and /æ/ are used in the following tongue twister:

Can you can a can as a canner can can a can.

  • What does a dictionary tell you? – Glorfindel Apr 26 '17 at 6:40
  • 1
    When I pronounce the sentence all the "cans" sound the same to me. Of course, they might sound different others, plus I might pronounce "can" differently in other contexts (or when I'm not observing myself). – Hot Licks May 25 '17 at 22:38
  • They are all unreduced /æ/ in that sentence. That's part of what makes it a tongue twister, although I think it must be one of the easiest tongue twisters around. – Arm the good guys in America May 26 '17 at 6:01
  • (Of course, I doubt that I could do the Can Can.) – Hot Licks Apr 18 at 20:16
0

The short answer is that the modal "can" is optionally, and often, reduced from [kʰæn] to [kʰən] when it is not being emphasised.

| improve this answer | |
  • So you are saying that "can" can rhyme with "bun"? – Cascabel Apr 25 '17 at 17:58
  • No, since "bun" is pronounced [bʌn] or, more likely, [bɐn] (at least in most dialects of English, though in mine it happens to be [bʊn]). It's like the reduction of "to" from [tʰuː] to [tʰə]. – Miztli Apr 25 '17 at 18:02
  • Unstressed "can" often rhymes with unstressed "been". It's more like c'n. – Hellion Apr 25 '17 at 18:04
  • Unstressed "can" doesn't rhyme with unstressed "been" in most dialects since the former is pronounced [kʰən], the latter [bɪn] (though there might well be dialects where they do in fact rhyme). – Miztli Apr 25 '17 at 18:06
  • 1
    There are definitely American dialects where unstressed can rhymes with unstressed been, and I think they are quite common. Many dialects that don't have the weak vowel merger reduce /æ/ to /ɪ/. – Peter Shor Apr 25 '17 at 18:43

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.