Category Archives: Schwa Sound

Connected Speech in Real Life #1 – From Jar of Hearts to Jar of Farts

The hit song Jar of Hearts (2010) by Christina Perri became the subject of numerous parodies due to many people mishearing the title lyrics as not ‘jar of hearts’ but the rather more odious ‘jar of farts’.

Why did this happen? Well it’s all down to connected speech and the sound connection between ‘of’ and ‘hearts’. This is a cc (consonant to consonant) sound connection and we can see in Lesson 5.7 Connected Speech that we need to change this to a vc (vowel to consonant) connection. When the second syllable in a sound connection starts with a  h  sound we usually delete it and then move forward the final consonant sound of the first syllable. As the voiced consonant sound  v  (from ‘of’) moves forward, it changes to its unvoiced equivalent  f.

So we go from:

jar     of     hearts     (Jar Ov Hartz in Clear Alphabet)

to:

Jar     r     Fartz

The first sound connection ‘jar of’ is vv (vowel to vowel), so we connect with a  r  sound (intrusion). ‘Of’ is a function word, so it is not stressed and after losing its final consonant sound becomes an embedded schwa sound after  r:  Jar r

In short, it’s too difficult for the singer to pronounce  v  and  h  together (‘of hearts’), since a vc connection is required. It’s no surprise then that such a lovely sentiment on paper (‘jar of hearts’) becomes something rather more pungently unpleasant in the listener’s ears. It’s just unfortunate that the normal process of using connected speech to create vc connections has resulted in an entirely different phrase, but one that was humorously relevant.

NEW Podcast! The Schwa Sound

NEW Podcast! The Schwa Sound

Learn about the schwa sound in English:

Download link: 52. The Schwa Sound in English (MP3 12 MB)

What is the schwa sound in English? With Matt Purland. Listen to the podcast and follow the text here:
The image shows the schwa sound as sound waves (stereo) captured by Audacity software.
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