Open central unrounded vowel

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Open central unrounded vowel
ɑ̈
ɐ̞
IPA number 304 415
Encoding
Entity (decimal) a​̈
Unicode (hex) U+0061 U+0308
X-SAMPA a_" or a_- or A_" or 6_o
Sound

The open central unrounded vowel, or low central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. While the International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no dedicated letter for this sound between front [a] and back [ɑ], it is normally written a. If precision is required, it can be specified by using diacritics, such as centralized ä or retracted , but this is not common.

Until recently, however, the letter a was officially used for the central vowel, and much of the existing body of work on phonetics reflects that. It is thus more common to use plain [a] for a central vowel, and to approximate an open front vowel, if needed, with [æ], officially near-open (near-low). Alternatively, Sinologists may use the unofficial symbol (small capital A). The IPA voted against officially adopting this symbol in 2011–2012.[1]

Limburgish dialect of Hamont has been reported to contrast open front, central and back unrounded vowels,[2] which is extremely unusual.

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

Features[edit]

IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Close
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
iy
ɨʉ
ɯu
ɪʏ
eø
ɘɵ
ɤo
ɛœ
ɜɞ
ʌɔ
aɶ
ä
ɑɒ
Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view
  • Its vowel height is open, also known as low, which means the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth – that is, as low as possible in the mouth.
  • Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel. This often subsumes open (low) front vowels, because the tongue does not have as much flexibility in positioning as it does for the close (high) vowels; the difference between an open front vowel and an open back vowel is equal to the difference between a close front and a close central vowel, or a close central and a close back vowel.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.

Occurrence[edit]

Most languages have some form of an unrounded open vowel. Because the IPA uses a for both front and central unrounded open vowels, it is not always clear whether a particular language uses the former or the latter.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe дахэ About this sound [däːxä]  'pretty'
Bengali পা pa [pä] 'leg' See Bengali phonology
Catalan[3] sac [s̠äk] 'sack' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese saa1 [sä̝ː˥] 'sand' Somewhat raised. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin tā [tʰä˥] 'he' See Mandarin phonology
Czech[4] Amerika [ˈämɛrɪkä] 'America' See Czech phonology
Dutch Amsterdam[5] bad [bät] 'bath' Also present in many other non-Randstad accents.[5] It corresponds to fully back [ɑ] in standard Netherlandic Dutch, and to near-back [ɐ̠] in standard Belgian Dutch.
Antwerp[5]
Brabant[5][6]
Standard[7][8] zaal [zäːɫ] 'hall' Ranges from front to central;[9] in non-standard accents it may be back. See Dutch phonology
English Australian[10] car [kʰäː] 'car' See Australian English phonology
Norfolk[11]
Cultivated
South African[12]
[käː] Some speakers. For others it's less front [ɑ̟ː].
General
South African[13]
time [täːm] 'time' General speakers may also monophthongize /aʊ/.
Southern American[14] [tʰäːm] See English phonology
General American[15] cot [kʰäʔt̚] 'cot' It may be more back [ɑ̟ ~ ɑ], especially for speakers with the cot-caught merger. See English phonology
Southern Michigan[16] See English phonology
Central and Northern England path [päːθ] 'path' Remnants of the Trap-Bath split for some speakers, mainly across the border line of the Trap-Bath split, sometimes found in Yorkshire, Liverpool or Manchester.
Some speakers punk [päŋk] 'punk' Found in some speakers in South Africa and Southern England.
French[17] patte [pät̪] 'paw' See French phonology.
German Standard[18] Katze [ˈkʰät͡sə] 'cat' See German phonology
Hebrew[19] פח About this sound [päχ]   'garbage can' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[20] láb [läːb] 'leg' See Hungarian phonology
Igbo[21] ákụ [ákú̙] 'kernal'
Italian[22] casa [ˈkäːzä] 'home' See Italian phonology
Japanese[23] ka About this sound [kä]   'mosquito' See Japanese phonology
Limburgish Hamont dialect[2] zaak [zäːk²] 'business' Contrasts with [a], [], [ɑ] and [ɑː].[2]
Lithuanian namas [ˈnäːmäs] 'house'
Malay api [äpi] 'fire'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[24] hat [häːt̪] 'hate' May be transcribed /ɑː/, the way it's pronounced in some dialects. Some older speakers may use a front [] instead. See Norwegian phonology
Polish[25] kat About this sound [kät̪]  'executioner' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[26] vá [vä] 'go' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian cal [käl] 'horse' See Romanian phonology
Russian там About this sound [t̪äm]  'there' See Russian phonology
Scottish Gaelic slat [slät] 'yard' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian[27] патка / patka [pâ̠t̪ka̠] 'female duck' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Spanish[28] rata [ˈrät̪ä] 'rat' See Spanish phonology
Swedish[29] bank [bäŋk] 'bank' See Swedish phonology
Turkish[30] at [ät̪] 'horse' See Turkish phonology
Vietnamese Hanoi xa [s̪äː] 'far' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian laad [ɫäːt] 'drawer'

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1–2): 53–56, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004618 
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003), The Phonetics of English and Dutch, Fifth Revised Edition, ISBN 9004103406 
  • Cox, Felicity; Palethorpe, Sallyanne (2007), "Australian English", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (3): 341–350, doi:10.1017/S0025100307003192 
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Dankovičová, Jana (1999), "Czech", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press, pp. 70–74 
  • Engstrand, Olle (1999), "Swedish", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the usage of the International Phonetic Alphabet., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 140–142, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L (1993), "French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X 
  • Hillenbrand, James M. (2003), "American English: Southern Michigan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 121–126, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001221 
  • Ikekeonwu, Clara (1999), "Igbo", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, pp. 108–110, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001191 
  • Keating, Patricia A. (2012), "IPA Council votes against new IPA symbol", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 42 (2): 245, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000114, "with only 15 of 30 members voting [by email], the vote was 8 in favor, 7 against. [...] With all 30 members of the Council voting [again six months later], the resolution was defeated: 17 no, 12 yes, 1 abstention. The IPA will therefore not be adding a symbol for this vowel to the alphabet or chart." 
  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-016746-8 
  • Landau, Ernestina; Lončarića, Mijo; Horga, Damir; Škarić, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–69, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 
  • Laufer, Asher (1999), "Hebrew", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, pp. 96–99 
  • Lodge, Ken (2009), A Critical Introduction to Phonetics, pp. 167–169, ISBN 978-0-8264-8873-2 
  • Mangold, Max (2005), Das Aussprachewörterbuch, Duden, p. 37, ISBN 9783411040667 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–96, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Peters, Jörg (2010), "The Flemish–Brabant dialect of Orsmaal–Gussenhoven", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (2): 239–246, doi:10.1017/S0025100310000083 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Szende, Tamás (1994), "Hungarian", Journal of the International Phonetic Alphabet 24 (2): 91–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005090 
  • Vanvik, Arne (1979), Norsk fonetik, Oslo: Universitetet i Oslo, ISBN 82-990584-0-6 
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (2): 245, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173 
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2007), "The Belgian Limburg dialect of Hamont", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (2): 219–225, doi:10.1017/S0025100307002940 
  • Wells, John C. (1982), Accents of English 3, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-24225-8 
  • Zimmer, Karl; Orgun, Orhan (1999), "Turkish", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 154–158, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 

Further reading[edit]

  • Barry, William; Trouvain, Jürgen (2008), "Do we need a symbol for a central open vowel?", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (3): 349–357