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The International Phonetic Alphabet uses a breve, [ ̆ ], to indicate a speech sound (usually a vowel) with less than normal or extra short duration. That is, [ă] is a very short vowel with the quality of [a].
Before 1989, the breve was used for a non-syllabic vowel (that is, part of a diphthong), which is now indicated by an inverted breve placed under the vowel letter, as in eye [aɪ̯]. It is also sometimes used for flap consonants which do not have dedicated symbols in the IPA, since a flap is in effect a very brief stop.
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