For example if you listen to the pronounciation for "seminar" on Oxfordlearner dictionary it sounds like an /ə/ to me.

BrE /ˈsemɪnɑː(r) https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/seminar

  • 1
    definitely, look for "weak vowel merger" – David Haim Jan 16 '18 at 8:53

To my ears, neither the British nor American speaker have reduced the vowel in the second syllable in seminar to a schwa. In the pronunciation of adequate on the same website, however, I hear the American speaker reducing the vowel in the second syllable to a schwa, while the British speaker even lengthens it a bit. The IPA symbol is identical for both.

Our ears have accents as well, and we often hear others pronounce words as we do even when they in fact do not. If your particular dialect is one where the weak vowel merger has taken place, then the difference you hear may only seem like insignificant positional variants rather than distinct vowels.

  • If neither of them pronounced it as a schwa then what did they pronounce it as? Surely not an /ɪ/. – James Jan 17 '18 at 1:38
  • Sorry, but that's the vowel I heard. – KarlG Jan 17 '18 at 1:48
  • It sounds very different to me from the /ɪ/ in "it". Does it sound different to you to? What is the reason? Weak vowel merger? – James Jan 17 '18 at 1:58
  • The vowels sound the same as here: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/bin_1?q=bin though the American seems to pronounce it a tiny bit further back. If you compare bit, you hear the heavily aspirated t move the vowel a bit toward the front for both. At least that's what I'm hearing. Maybe you start hearing schwa earlier than I do as the vowel moves back. – KarlG Jan 17 '18 at 2:13
  • oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/capital_1 what about the British pronounciation of Capital. Does it sound like ɪ? – James Jan 17 '18 at 2:13

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