7
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Some use me unaware.
Some call me lazy.
The most-used did a 180,
And then you saw me.

I'm short and neutral.
By the time you've read these 8 lines,
You'll have used me at least 8 times,
And maybe even up to 18 times.

What 5-letter word am I?

Post a detailed explanation with your answer, please.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I feel like it could be "brain"? $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jul 11 '15 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ I reckon it might be "pause". $\endgroup$ – niemiro Jul 11 '15 at 20:37
12
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You are

schwa

Some use me unaware.

Some people have never heard of the schwa.

Some call me lazy.

In English, the schwa occurs in many unstressed syllables. Since it is unstressed, some people call it lazy.

The most-used did a 180, And then you saw me.

e is the most common letter in the English language. Rotate it 180 degrees and you get ə, which represents the schwa.

I'm short and neutral.

The schwa is a short neutral vowel sound.

By the time you've read this, You'll have used me at least 8 times, And maybe even up to 18 times.

Using the Google define feature to get the IPA pronunciations of the words in the first 8 lines, I came up with the following words that can be pronounced with a schwa:

Some: səm
unaware: ˌənəˈwer
Some: səm
The: T͟Hē, T͟Hə
a: ā, ə
one (in 180): wən
And: and, (ə)n
and: and, (ə)n
neutral: ˈn(y)o͞otrəl
the: T͟Hē, T͟Hə
you've: yo͞ov, yəv
have: hav, həv, (ə)v
at: at, ət
And: and, (ə)n
even: ˈēvən
up: əp
to: to͞o, tə

Since some words have multiple pronunciations, some of which may not use the schwa, that comes out to a minimum of 8 schwas and a maximum of 18 schwas.

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  • $\begingroup$ good job! was it easy? $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 12 '15 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee This was a good puzzle. Even though it only took me a few minutes to solve, I think it was more a matter of me being lucky than the puzzle being easy. I thought of pause and vowel, then did a search for "lazy vowel" and quickly stumbled on schwa. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Jul 12 '15 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ now, time to revamp that "intrinsic" puzzle that just won't die. eh? $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 12 '15 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee Someone is bound to have that "aha" moment that will make that puzzle much easier to solve. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Jul 12 '15 at 4:31
1
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I think it might be

VOICE (in grammar, such as active voice and passive voice)

Some use me unaware.

Every sentence has its own voice, which we use without realization.

Some call me lazy.

Voice can be of the passive form too.

The most-used did a 180, And then you saw me.

Most sentences use the active voice but once we learnt about the passive voice, we started turning sentences from active to passive voice, and only then realized its role in sentences.

I'm short and neutral.

The change in voice never changes the intent of the sentence, and hence could be considered neutral. (unsure about how it is short...)

By the time you've read this, You'll have used me at least 8 times,

The main body of the riddle has 8 verses, so there are 8 sentences, all of which are in active voice.

And maybe even up to 19 times.

Perhaps the other 11 sentences could be a part of the standard layout of PuzzlingSE which has links like 'Ask question', 'Contact us', 'Download the Stack Exchange Android app' etc. (I see the app message as I'm on my phone right now.)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 This was a good guess, now that I have really read it well enough to understand it. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 12 '15 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee: :) It fit quite well. I had guessed right away that it would be a feature of grammar. But I had never heard of schwa. $\endgroup$ – CodeNewbie Jul 12 '15 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee: Yes, the 19 times was a stretch, and I had nothing for short either. $\endgroup$ – CodeNewbie Jul 12 '15 at 12:12

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