Near-open front unrounded vowel

Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA number 325
Entity (decimal) æ
Unicode (hex) U+00E6
Kirshenbaum &
Braille ⠩ (braille pattern dots-146)
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The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is æ, a lowercase of the Æ ligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "ash".

The rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish;[2][3] see open front rounded vowel for more information.

The IPA prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of this article follows this preference. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low".

In practice, æ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
i  y
ɨ  ʉ
ɯ  u
ɪ  ʏ
ɪ̈  ʊ̈
ɯ̽  ʊ
e  ø
ɘ  ɵ
ɤ  o
ə  ɵ̞
ɛ  œ
ɜ  ɞ
ʌ  ɔ
ɐ  ɞ̞
a  ɶ
ä  ɒ̈
ɑ  ɒ
Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

IPA help  IPA key  chart   chart with audio  view


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[4] perd [pæːrt] 'horse' Allophone of /ɛ/ before sequences /rs/, /rt/, /rd/ and, in some dialects, before /k x l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
Ahtna kuggaedi [kʰuk̠æti] 'mosquito'
ArabicStandard[5] كتاب  [kiˈt̪æːb]  'book' Allophone of /a/ in the environment of plain labial and coronal consonants as well as /j/ (depending on the speaker's accent). See Arabic phonology
Azerbaijani səs [sæs] 'sound'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic nata [næːta] 'ear' In some speakers of the Urmia and Jilu dialects; Others may use [a]. Outside these dialects, [ä] is widespread; However, the Tyari dialects may use [ɑ].
Bengali এক [æk] 'one' See Bengali phonology
Catalan[6][7][8] Valencian tesi [ˈt̪ɛ̞z̥ɪ̝] 'thesis' Main realization of /ɛ/. See Catalan phonology
set [ˈs̠æ̠t̪] 'seven' Near-front. Allophone of /ɛ/ found in contact with liquids and in monosyllabic terms. Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ
Some Valencian and Balearic speakers[9] llamp [ˈl̠ʲɛ̞mp] 'lightning' Allophone of /a/ in contact with palatal consonants. In some variants it can merge with /ɛ/.
Western Catalan[10][11] taula [ˈt̪ɑ̟wɫæ̝] 'table' Somewhat retracted. Unstressed allophone of /a/ in the coda. It can alternate with rounded allophones in the Valencian dialects.
Danish Standard[2][12] Dansk [ˈd̥ænsɡ̊] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA with a - the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[13] See Danish phonology
Dutch Low Saxon Some dialects dät [dæt] 'that' More back in other dialects
English Australian[14] cat  [kʰæt]  'cat' Many younger speakers realize it as fully open [a],[15] whereas in broader accents it may be open-mid [ɛ]. See English phonology and Australian English phonology
Cultivated New Zealand[16] Higher in other New Zealand varieties.
General American[17]
Received Pronunciation[18] Lower [a] for many younger speakers
Norfolk[19] [kʰæ̠t] Near-front.[19]
Cockney[20] town [tˢæːn] 'town' May be lower [] or a diphthong [æə̯] instead. It corresponds to /aʊ̯/ in other dialects
Estonian[21] väle [ˈvæ̠lɛˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[21] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[22] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Popular Parisian[23] tard [ˈtæʀ] 'late' See French phonology
Quebec ver  [væːʁ]  'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[24] See Quebec French phonology
Garhwali Standard ले [læ] 'take it' Allophone of /e/
German Standard[25] Pointe [ˈpʰo̯æ̃ːtʰə] 'punch line' Nasalized.[25] Most often transcribed in IPA with ɛ̃ː. Present only in loanwords. See German phonology
Greek Macedonia[26] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[27] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hindi बैल [bæl] 'oxen' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian[28] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. See Hungarian phonology
Italian Bari Bari [ˈbæri] 'Bari'
Jalapa Mazatec tsæ [tsǣ] 'guava'
Lakon[29] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Latvian ezers [ˈæz̪ærs̪] 'lake'
Limburgish Hasselt dialect[30] mès [mæs²] 'knife'
Maastrichtian[31] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Near-front.[31]
Lithuanian eglė [ˈæːɡʲlʲeː] 'spruce tree' See Lithuanian phonology
Luxembourgish[32][33] Käpp [kʰæp] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Standard Eastern[34] lær [l̪æːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Bergen[35] ett [æt] 'one' Corresponds to /æ/ and /ɛ/ in other dialects. May also be realized as [ɪ].
Persian در [dær] 'door' See Persian phonology
Polish[36] ten [t̪æn̪] 'this one'
(masc. nom.)
Rare realization of /ɛ/.[37] See Polish phonology
Portuguese Some dialects[38] pedra [ˈpæðɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[39] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[40] dem [dæm] Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[40]
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[41] piele [pæle] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[41] See Romanian phonology
Russian[42][43] пять  [pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sinhala කැමති [kæməti] 'to like'
Slovak[44] väzy [ˈʋæzɪ] 'ligaments' Somewhat rare pronunciation, with [ɛ] being more common. See Slovak phonology
Eastern Andalusian seis [ˈsæɪ̯ʰ] 'six' Lowered allophone of /e/ before /s/ in some instances. In some variants it can merge with /a/ ([a]). See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[45][46][47] ära  [ˈæ̂ːˈɾâ]  'honour' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[47] läsa [ˈlæ̂ːˈsâ] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[48] sen [s̪æn̪] 'you' Allophone of /e/ before syllable-final /m, n, l, r/. In a limited number of words (but not before /r/), it is in free variation with [].[48] See Turkish phonology
Vietnamese Northern pha [fæ] 'phase' Some dialects. Corresponds to [a] in other dialects. See Vietnamese phonology
Yaghan mæpi [mæpi] 'reed'

See also


  1. Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. 1 2 Grønnum (1998:100)
  3. Basbøll (2005:46)
  4. Donaldson (1993:3)
  5. Holes (2004:60)
  6. Recasens (1996:81)
  7. Recasens (1996:130–131)
  8. Rafel (1999:14)
  9. Saborit (2009:24-25)
  10. Recasens (1996:?)
  11. Saborit (2009:25-26)
  12. Basbøll (2005:45)
  13. Basbøll (2005:32)
  14. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009a)
  15. Cox (2012:160)
  16. Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  17. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009b)
  18. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009c), Roach (2004:242)
  19. 1 2 Lodge (2009:168)
  20. Wells (1982:309)
  21. 1 2 Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  22. Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  23. "Les Accents des Français". Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  24. Walker (1984:75)
  25. 1 2 Mangold (2005:37)
  26. 1 2 3 Newton (1972:11)
  27. Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  28. Szende (1994:92)
  29. François (2005:466)
  30. Peters (2006:119)
  31. 1 2 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  32. Trouvain & Gilles (2009:75)
  33. Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  34. Vanvik (1979:13)
  35. Vanvik (1979:15)
  36. Rocławski (1976:75, 108)
  37. Rocławski (1976:108)
  38. Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  39. Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (Portuguese)
  40. 1 2 Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  41. 1 2 Pop (1938), p. 29.
  42. Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  43. Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  44. Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  45. Eliasson (1986:273)
  46. Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  47. 1 2 Riad (2014:38)
  48. 1 2 Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)


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