Ever watched a film or play where the accent is really good but somehow not quite right? Often it’s the weak syllables that are out of place rather than the strong, obvious sounds.
So what is the ‘schwa’? Anyone who has studied English as a second language or learned a different accent of English as a native speaker has probably heard of it. It is the neutral, weak vowel that only occurs in unstressed syllables (unless the speaker is from New Zealand or South Africa, where it occurs in stressed syllables too in place of the stressed phoneme / ɪ / ).