Pronunciation of [ə] is notoriously difficult for Japanese speakers, and while trying to communicate its importance in languages such as English and French, I started to wonder: do any dialects of Japanese employ the schwa, or some approximation of it?

1 Answer 1


There is a dialect of Ryūkyūan employing [ə]:

“The Yaeyama Taketomi-jima dialect has a six-vowel system: a, ə, i, u, o, e. <…> _ə_ is a vowel found only in the Taketom-jima dialect…

(Handbook of the Ryukyuan Languages)

This implies also the fact that [ə] is notoriously rare even for Ryūkyūan.

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    印象的!Given what's said about the lexical distance between even 鹿児島弁 and Ryūkyūan, I guess there won't be many speakers of 標準語 who know Ryūkyūan well enough for me to usefully reference it. Could be an amusing thing to mention though. Oct 3, 2018 at 11:12

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