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Research this

Please, everyone, it’s not ‘re-search’, it’s ‘research’.

The stress in ‘research’ falls on the second syllable. The first ‘e’ in ‘research’ is unstressed, and barely voiced at all: in the phonetic alphabet, it’s represented by a character known as the ‘schwa’, that denotes any vowel that in English is correctly pronounced only as a token grunt.

We say ‘proh-noun’, but we don’t say ‘proh-nounced’, we say ‘prernounced’. Again, the stress is on the diphthong. The ‘short ‘er’ sound given to the first, unstressed ‘o’, is the ‘schwa’. It’s a no-brainer.

The ‘er’ in ‘brainer’ is also the ‘schwa’. We don’t say ‘brainerr’. The ‘r’ is only voiced when the following word begins with a vowel, as in ‘no-brainer, innit?’ The simple rule-of-thumb is to look to where the stress falls. In English, if a vowel is unstressed, it’s probably going to be the ‘schwa’ (like the ‘a’ in ‘probably’).

I become mildly infuriated then, whenever someone on the radio, as everyone on the radio increasingly does, glibly tells me they have ‘re-searched’ some topic upon which their curiosity has qualified them to comment, however superficially. Most self-inflated experts’ ‘re-search’ nowadays consisting, as it does, of a brief visit to the summary heading of a page on Wikipedia. (The ‘e’ is stressed… as am I. The ‘a’ is, of course, the ‘schwa’. It’s ‘Wikipeedier’)

You have been told. No, don’t say you haven’t.

– Uncle Bogler


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