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In this paper, we use articulatory measures to determine whether Dutch schwa epenthesis is an abstract phonological process or a concrete phonetic process depending on articulatory timing.We examine tongue position during /l/ before underlying schwa and epenthetic schwa and in coda position.
A lot of subtheories of phonology are at stake -- syllable structure theory, stress theory, the theory of (sub)segmental representation, and of interaction between segments -- and the questions surrounding schwa therefore will probably not be resolved until the perfect theory of phonology has been discovered.
On the other hand, schwa offers an excellent testcase for many theories of phonology.
It therefore should come as no surprise that the vowel has been studied intensively within various branches of generative phonology.
This article offers an overview of some of the ideas that have been proposed and some of the facts that have been discovered over the past thirty years.
I do not think the taxonomy just presented should be awarded any theoretical status: a schwa may change its behaviour over the years, and indeed we also find cases where a vowel is e-schwa and r-schwa at the same time (as in the French paradigm appeler [[email protected]] `to call' j'appelle [ZAp El] `I call').