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
æ
aɶ
äɒ̈
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'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic kalu [kʰälu] 'bride' May sound like [a] and [æ] in the Urmia, Nochiya and Jilu dialects. In the Tyari dialect, [ɑ] is usually used.
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3] [example needed]
Bengali পা pa [pä] 'leg' See Bengali phonology
Catalan[4] sac [s̠äk] 'sack' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese saa1 [sä̝ː˥] 'sand' Somewhat raised. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin tā [tʰä˥] 'he' See Mandarin phonology
Czech[5] Amerika [ˈämɛrɪkä] 'America' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[6][7][8][9][10] barn [ˈb̥äːˀn] 'child' Most often transcribed ɑ - the way it is realized in the conservative variety.[11] See Danish phonology
Dutch Amsterdam[12] bad [bät] 'bath' Also present in many other non-Randstad accents.[12] It corresponds to [ɑ] in Standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Antwerp[12]
Brabant[12][13]
Standard[14][15] zaal [zäːɫ] 'hall' Ranges from front to central;[16] in non-standard accents it may be back. See Dutch phonology
English Australian[17] car [kʰäː] 'car' See Australian English phonology
Norfolk[18]
Cultivated
South African[19]
Some speakers. For others it's less front [ɑ̟ː].
General
South African[20]
time [tʰäːm] 'time' Corresponds to the diphthong /aɪ/ in most dialects. General South African speakers may also monophthongize /aʊ/. See English phonology
Southern American[21]
General American[22] cot [kʰäʔt̚] 'cot' It may be more back [ɑ̟ ~ ɑ], especially for speakers with the cot-caught merger. See English phonology
Southern Michigan[23] 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 many speakers in Australia and in some speakers in South Africa and Southern England.
French[24] patte [pät̪] 'paw' See French phonology.
German Standard[25] Katze [ˈkʰät͡sə] 'cat' See German phonology
Hebrew[26] פח About this sound [päχ]   'garbage can' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustani माता / ماتا [mata] 'mother' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian[27] láb [läːb] 'leg' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[28][29][30][31] fara [ˈfäːrä] 'go' See Icelandic phonology
Igbo[32] ákụ [ákú̙] 'kernal'
Italian[33] casa [ˈkäːzä] 'home' See Italian phonology
Japanese[34] ka About this sound [kä]   'mosquito' See Japanese phonology
Limburgish Hamont dialect[2] zaak [zäːk²] 'business' Contrasts with [a], [], [ɑ] and [ɑː].[2] See Phonology of the Hamont-Achel dialect of Limburgish
Lithuanian namas [ˈnäːmäs] 'house'
Malay api [äpi] 'fire'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[35] 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[36] kat About this sound [kät̪]  'executioner' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[37] vá [vä] 'go' See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਜਾ [d͡ʒäː] 'go!'
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[38] патка / patka [pâ̠t̪ka̠] 'female duck' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Spanish[39] rata [ˈrät̪ä] 'rat' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[40] bank [bäŋk] 'bank' Also described as front [a].[41] See Swedish phonology
Turkish[42] at [ät̪] 'horse' See Turkish phonology
Vietnamese Hanoi xa [s̪äː] 'far' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian laad [ɫäːt] 'drawer'

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Allan, Robin; Holmes, Philip; Lundskær-Nielsen, Tom (2000), Danish: An Essential Grammar, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-19-824268-9 
  • Árnason, Kristján (2011), The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922931-4 
  • Basbøll, Hans (2005), The Phonology of Danish, ISBN 0-203-97876-5 
  • 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 
  • Einarsson, Stefán (1945), Icelandic. Grammar texts glossary., Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, ISBN 978-0801863578 
  • 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 
  • Grønnum, Nina (1998), "Illustrations of the IPA: Danish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 28 (1 & 2): 99–105, doi:10.1017/s0025100300006290 
  • Grønnum, Nina (2003), Why are the Danes so hard to understand? 
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk (3rd ed.), Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, ISBN 87-500-3865-6 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X 
  • Gussmann, Edmund (2011). "Getting your head around: the vowel system of Modern Icelandic". Folia Scandinavica Posnaniensia 12: 71–90. ISBN 978-83-232-2296-5. 
  • Haugen, Einar (1958). "The Phonemics of Modern Icelandic". Language 34 (1): 55–88. doi:10.2307/411276. JSTOR 411276. 
  • 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 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8. 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Johnson, Keith (2010), A Course in Phonetics (6th ed.), Boston, Massachusetts: Wadsworth Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4282-3126-9 
  • 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 
  • Thorén, Bosse; Petterson, Nils-Owe (1992), Svenska Utifrån Uttalsanvisningar, ISBN 91-520-0284-5 
  • Traunmüller, Hartmut (1982), "Vokalismus in der westniederösterreichischen Mundart.", Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 2: 289–333, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006290 
  • 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, doi:10.1017/s0025100308003587