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Nasalization of schwa
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This topic is devoted to the behaviour of the vowel schwa with respect to vowel nasalization. Though schwa can undergo nasalization, it seems to be too weak a vowel to carry nasality, so nasal schwa is prone to lose its nasality, so that oral schwa remains.

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The vowel schwa can undergo nasalization, as the examples in (1) show:

Example 1

Examples of the nasalization of schwa
in sint /ən sɪnt/ [ə̃ sɪnt] a cent
jin ferfele /jən fər+fe:lə/ [jə̃ fəfe:lə] to be bored
dregens /dre:ɣ+əns/ [dre:ɣə̃s] soundness, thoroughness

Schwa is the weakest of the Frisian vowels (see schwa). This is likely to be the cause that it is hardly able to 'carry' nasality, for in quite a few cases the nasality has been lost and oral schwa has remained, examples of which are provided in (2):

Example 2

Examples of nasality loss with schwa
a. In formerly complex words
neffens [nɛfəs] < [nɛfə̃s] according to
harsens [hasəs] < [hasə̃s] brain(s)
fansels [fəsɛls] < [fə̃sɛls] < [fɔ̃sɛls] of course
frommes [froməs] < [fromə̃s] < ['frɔwmẽ:s] woman
b. In loanwords
pensjoen [pəsjuən] < [pə̃sjuən] < [pɪ̃sjuən] pension
bensine [bəsinə] < [bə̃sinə] < [bɛ̃sinə] petrol
avensearje [avəsjɛrjə] < [avə̃sjɛrjə] < [avãsjɛrjə] to make haste
mansjester [məsjɛstr̩] < [mə̃sjɛstr̩] < [mãsjɛstr̩] corduroy

In most of these cases, schwa results from vowel reduction (see vowel reduction).

The words in (1) are either words which have lost their former morphological complexity and now function as simplex words ((2a)) or loan words, mainly from French, which also count as underived ((2b)). The simplex, underived character of these words implies that there is no paradigmatic pressure on them to stick to the underlying sequence /ən/. This is different for, for instance, the article in/ən/a(n), the pronoun jin/jən/oneself, and the suffix -ens/-əns/ in (1), as shown in (3):

Example 3

Variation between nasalized schwa and oral schwa + /n/
a. With the article in /ən/
in sint [ə̃ sɪnt] a cent ~ in auto [ən ɔ.wto:] a car
in fyts [ə̃ fits] a bicycle ~ in hûs [ən hu:s] a house , in bus [əm bøs] a bus
b. With the pronoun jin -/jən/
jin skeare [jə̃ skɪərə] to shave ~ jin opmeitsje [jən opmajtsjə] to make oneself up
jin waskje [jə̃ vɔskjə] to wash ~ jin hâlde (en drage) [jən hɔ:də (ɛn dra:ɣə)] to behave
c. With the suffix -ens -/əns/
dregens /dre:ɣ+əns/ [dre:ɣə̃s] soundness, thoroughness ~ goedens /ɡuəd+əns/ [ɡuədn̩s] goodness , koartens /kwat+əns/ [kwatn̩s] shortness

The left hand forms have a nasalized schwa, next to which there are forms with the sequence oral schwa + [n] (the right-hand ones). The same goes for the words with the suffix -ens in [ə̃s], alongside which there are forms with a syllabic [n̩], which derives from schwa + [n] (see distributional evidence that syllabic consonants derive from /ə/ + consonant). In this case then there will be pressure to maintain the underlying representations with schwa + /n/. It may be safely assumed that words like neffens and mansjester in (2) have lost their underlying /n/ altogether, so that only schwa is left.

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