Ode to Schwa

Seriously, how many schwas are even in this word.

Spellers almost unanimously condemn the schwa as one of the most torturous sounds that one could ever receive. It is almost always met with sounds of despair and frustration. Some people going as far to assign epithets such as “Speller-slayer” or “The Ultimate Bane” as if it was a sword in the style of Tolkien or Martin. However, I feel that it almost could be described as an epitome of what allows spelling bees in English to exist. It’s the versatility of the schwa that also is reflected in the English language. If every single word in the English language followed a set of standard conventions then there would almost be no purpose at all at spelling words. It is the weird, wacky, wobbly sense of coherence that holds a Germanic language with a primarily Romance language vocabulary together. Its versatility is how lachsschinken and recercellee exist in the same language despite looking and sounding like a complete antithesis to each other. One hard, guttural consonants and the other soft sounds directed by its vowels.

So as an open letter to the schwa, I appreciate how you allow different words and sounds to be joined together to form even more amazing words. The sheer number of Latin and Greek words that use you as a sort of glue is testament to how much you are overlooked. After all, it’s biology, not bilogy.

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