Open-mid back unrounded vowel

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Open-mid back unrounded vowel
IPA number 314
Entity (decimal) ʌ
Unicode (hex) U+028C
Kirshenbaum V
Braille ⠬ (braille pattern dots-346)

The open-mid back unrounded vowel, or low-mid back unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʌ, graphically a rotated lowercase vee (called a turned V, though it was created as a small-capital without the crossbar), and both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as either a wedge, a caret, or a hat. In transcriptions for some languages (including several dialects of English), this symbol is also used for the near-open central vowel.

The IPA prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. However, linguists[who?] are known to use the terms "high" and "low".


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Cape Town[1] lot [lʌ̟t] 'lot' Near-back.[1] It corresponds to a weakly rounded [ɒ̈] in all other South African dialects.
Cardiff[2] thought [θʌ̟ːt] 'thought' Near-back,[2] for some speakers it may be rounded and closer. See English phonology
Cockney[3] no [nʌ̟ː] 'no, nah' Near-back,[3] often a diphthong. It corresponds to /əʊ̯/ in other dialects. See English phonology
General South African[4] [nʌː] May be a diphthong [ʌʊ̯] instead.[5]
Inland Northern American[6] gut About this sound [ɡʌt]  'gut' In most dialects, fronted to [ɜ], or fronted and lowered to [ɐ]. See English phonology and Northern Cities Vowel Shift
Older Received Pronunciation
Irish Ulster dialect ola [ʌlˠə] 'oil' See Irish phonology
Korean[10] byeol [pjʌl] 'star' See Korean phonology
Vietnamese ân [ʌn] 'grace' Also transcribed as central [ə]. See Vietnamese phonology

Before World War II, the /ʌ/ of Received Pronunciation was phonetically close to a back vowel [ʌ]; this sound has since shifted forward towards [ɐ] (a near-open central vowel). Daniel Jones reports his speech (southern British), as having an advanced back vowel [ʌ̘] between his central /ə/ and back /ɔ/; however, he also reports that other southern speakers had a lower and even more advanced vowel approaching cardinal [a].[11] In American English varieties, e.g. the West and Midwest, and the urban South, the typical phonetic realization of the phoneme /ʌ/ is a central vowel that can be transcribed as [ɜ] (open-mid central).[12][13] Truly backed variants of /ʌ/ that are phonetically [ʌ] can occur in Inland Northern American English, Newfoundland English, Philadelphia English, some African-American Englishes, and (old-fashioned) white Southern English in coastal plain and Piedmont areas.[14][15] Despite this, the letter ʌ is still commonly used to indicate this phoneme, even in the more common varieties with central variants [ɐ] or [ɜ]. This may be due to both tradition as well as the fact that some other dialects retain the older pronunciation.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Lass (2002), p. 115.
  2. ^ a b Coupland (1990), p. 95.
  3. ^ a b Wells (1982a), p. 309.
  4. ^ Wells (1982b), pp. 614 and 621.
  5. ^ Wells (1982b), p. 614.
  6. ^ W. Labov, S. Ash and C. Boberg (1997), A national map of the regional dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved May 27, 2013 
  7. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 61–63.
  8. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 73–74.
  9. ^ Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 7.
  10. ^ Lee (1999).
  11. ^ Jones (1972), pp. 86–88.
  12. ^ Gordon (2004b), p. 340.
  13. ^ Tillery & Bailey (2004), p. 333.
  14. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 112–115, 121, 134, 174.
  15. ^ Gordon (2004a), pp. 294–296.
  16. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 135.


  • Coupland, Nikolas (1990), English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change, ISBN 1-85359-032-0 
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004a), "New York, Philadelphia and other Northern Cities", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 294–296, ISBN 3-11-017532-0  Missing |last2= in Editors list (help)
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004b), "The West and Midwest: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 340, ISBN 3-11-017532-0  Missing |last2= in Editors list (help)
  • Jones, Daniel (1972), An outline of English phonetics (9th ed.), Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. 
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 
  • Lee, Hyun Bok (1999), "Korean", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–122, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing 
  • Scobbie, James M; Gordeeva, Olga B.; Matthews, Benjamin (2006), Acquisition of Scottish English Phonology: an overview, Edinburgh: QMU Speech Science Research Centre Working Papers 
  • Thomas, Erik R. (2001), "An acoustic analysis of vowel variation in New World English", Publication of the American Dialect Society (Duke University Press for the American Dialect Society) 85, ISSN 0002-8207 
  • Tillery, Jan; Bailey, Guy (2004), "The urban South: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 333, ISBN 3-11-017532-0  Missing |last2= in Editors list (help)
  • Wells, J.C. (1982a). "Accents of English 2: The British Isles". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982b). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.