Scale of vowels
A scale of vowels is an arrangement of vowels in order of perceived "pitch".
vowel example iː key eɪ cane aɪ kite ɪ kit ɛ ken æ cat ɝː cur ʌ cut ɑː cot aʊ cow ɔɪ coy ɔː caught, core ʊ could oʊ coat uː cool, cute
In technical terms, this listing goes from front vowels to back vowels. It is by no means precise enough for phonology. For one thing, the sounds with [ʊ] or [ɪ] as the second symbol are diphthongs, during which the formants change. Also, many American accents and practically all from other countries will require different lists. Nonetheless this scale has been used in poetry. For instance, one can identify lines that generally go upward—
- O love, be fed with apples while you may… (Robert Graves)
- When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd… (Walt Whitman)
- Mood: no good, brought voice
- Down, not up, perhaps
- Ends with—Hi, baby!
Not to be confused with
The high- and low-frequency vowels described here are not the high vowels and low vowels of linguistics. Those are vowels where the tongue is high (as in "cool" and "key") or low (as in "car") respectively. Also, this scale is not the sonority hierarchy.