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Syllabic consonants                       

If you look up the pronunciation of words like 'button' and 'bottle' in Wells's Pronunciation Dictionary you'll come across a symbol we haven't mentioned yet - a small, raised schwa:

Wells uses a raised schwa to indicate a choice of pronunciations: the schwa may be omitted. But without a schwa, without a vowel, how can we have a syllable?

As we saw in the page on Weak and Stong Syllables () a weak, unstressed syllable often has schwa () in it. But if the schwa is omitted, we are left with a SYLLABIC CONSONANT - a syllable where the vowel and the consonant have merged into one.

Instead of using Wells's method of showing this possibility with a raised schwa, I shall follow Roach's practice of marking certain consonants with a small vertical line beneath them to show that they are SYLLABIC.

The syllabic consonants in English are:

The first two are fairly common. Here are some examples:
Syllabic r occurs in words like
And even syllabic and sometimes occur:

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