Scrutinizing Schwa in Pakistani English Phonology


Ali Hussain Bin Sadiq, Ali Ayyaz


This study explores the distinct phonological feature in Pakistani English with exclusive
reference to schwa, a mid-central weak vowel in English. This phoneme has a vital role
in giving Pakistani English a unique phonological characteristic in the sub-continent.
The present work uses descriptive method to analyze a phonetic pattern influenced by
orthography. The study investigates by giving participants a list of commonly used words
containing schwa. The age of participants ranges from nineteen to twenty-two and they
are male and female students of a private sector university in Lahore, Pakistan. Their
pronunciation is recorded in a quiet and non-interruptive atmosphere and compared with
Received Pronunciation (RP).The recorded responses are compared to Standard British
English Pronunciation by using speech analyzer software Praat. Based on data collected,
it is maintained that Pakistani English is a non-native variety, which possesses distinct
phonological traits. This study also investigates as to what happens when schwa is
restructured and replaced with substitute phonemes under the influence of Urduized and
regional dialects. It summarizes the discussion that Pakistani speakers incline to use
spellings as milestone to pronunciation.