Mid central vowel

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Mid central vowel
IPA number 322
Entity (decimal) ə
Unicode (hex) U+0259
Kirshenbaum @
Braille ⠢ (braille pattern dots-26)
IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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The mid central vowel (also known as schwa) is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ə, a rotated lowercase letter e. The same symbol may be used for both the unrounded and the rounded forms of the mid central vowel, although there exist certain other notations that may be used to represent either variant specifically.

Mid central unrounded vowel[edit]

The mid central unrounded vowel is frequently written with the symbol [ə]. However, this symbol may not specifically represent an unrounded vowel, and it is frequently used for almost any unstressed obscure vowel. If precision is desired, the symbol for the close-mid central unrounded vowel may be used with a lowering diacritic, [ɘ̞]. Another possibility is using the symbol for the open-mid central unrounded vowel with a raising diacritic, [ɜ̝].



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe зы About this sound [zəː]  'one'
Albanian është [ˈəʃtə] 'is'
Armenian ընկեր [əŋˈkɛɹ] 'friend'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ?/sətwa [sətwɐ] 'winter' Most speakers. Usually raised to [ɪ] in some Tyari dialects.
Bulgarian[1] пара [ˈparə] 'steam' Possible realization of unstressed /ɤ/ and /a/ in post-stressed syllables.[1] See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan Eastern Catalan[2] amb [əm(b)] 'with' Reduced vowel. See Catalan phonology
Most Balearic speakers[2] sec [ˈsək̟] 'dry'
Central Valencian[3] poc [ˈpɒ̝kːə] 'little' Vocalic release found in final consonants. It may vary in quality.
Some Valencian speakers[4] eh tu! [ˈe ˈtuːə̯̆] 'hey you!' Extra short. Diphthongization of final /i/, /u/, /e/, and /o/ before a pause.
Dutch beter [ˈbeːtər] 'better' See Dutch phonology
English Most dialects Tina [ˈtʰiːnə] 'Tina' Reduced vowel; varies in quality. See English phonology
Cultivated South African[5] bird [bəːd] 'bird' May be transcribed in IPA as ɜː. Other South African varieties use a higher, more front and rounded vowel [øː~ ø̈ː].
Received Pronunciation[7] Often transcribed /ɜː/. It is sulcalized, which means the tongue is grooved like in [ɹ]. 'Upper Crust RP' speakers pronounce a near-open vowel [ɐː], but for some other speakers it may actually be open-mid [ɜː]. This vowel corresponds to rhotacized [ɝ] in rhotic dialects.
Indian[8] bust [bəst] 'bust' May be lower. Some Indian varieties merge /ʌ/ and /ə/ like Welsh English.
Wales[9] May also be further back; it corresponds to /ʌ/ in other dialects.
Yorkshire[10] Middle class pronunciation. Other speakers use [ʊ]. Corresponds to /ʌ/ in other dialects.
Estonian[11] kõrv [kərv] 'ear' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɤ; can be mid back [ɤ̞] or close back [ɯ] instead, depending on the speaker.[11] See Estonian phonology
German Chemnitz dialect[12] Wonne [ˈʋɞ̝n̪ə] 'bliss' See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Standard[13][14] bitte [ˈbɪtə] 'please' Also described as close-mid [ɘ].[15] See Standard German phonology
Hindustani दस/دَس [ˈd̪əs] 'ten' See Hindustani phonology
Inuit West Greenlandic[16] [example needed] Allophone of /i/ before and especially between uvulars.[16] See Inuit phonology
Kabardian щы About this sound [ɕəː]  'three'
Kashubian jãzëk [jãzək] 'language'
Kensiu[17] [təh] 'to be bald'
Limburgish[18][19][20][21] besjeemp [bəˈʃeːmp] 'embarassed' Occurs only in unstressed syllables.[18][22][23][24] The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Luxembourgish[25][26] dënn [d̥ən] 'thin' More often realized as slightly rounded [ɵ̞].[26] See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonian к’смет [ˈkəs̪mɛt̪] 'luck' (archaic) Not considered a vowel phoneme. See Macedonian phonology
Malay Melayu [məlaju] 'Malay'
Marathi करा [əkˈra] 'eleven' See Marathi phonology.
Neapolitan guaglione [gwaˈʎːonə] 'boy'
Palauan tilobęd [tilobəd] 'came'
Pashto غوښه [ˈɣwəʂa] 'meat' See Pashto dialects
Piedmontese përché [pərˈke] 'why' May be realized as [a] or [ɑ] instead, depending on the variety.
Portuguese European[27] pagar [pɜ̝ˈɣaɾ] 'to pay' Often corresponds to a near-open vowel [ɐ] in Brazilian Portuguese.[28] See Portuguese phonology
São Paulo[29] cama [ˈkəmɐ] 'bed' Shorter nasal resonance or complete oral vowel in São Paulo and Southern Brazil, while nasal vowel in many other Portuguese dialects.
Southern Brazil
Some speakers[30] conviver [kũviˈveə̯ɾ] 'to coexist' Primarily in Portugal, but also stereotyped as a characteristic of the dialect of Rio de Janeiro (where [ə] for /ɐ/ is also dominant).[31]
Punjabi ਅਮਨ [əmən] 'peace'
Romanian măr [mər] 'apple' Also described as open-mid [ɜ]. See Romanian phonology
Russian это About this sound [ˈɛt̪ə]  'this' Unstressed allophone of several vowels. See Russian phonology
Sema[32][33] akütsü [ɐ˩ kə t͡sɨ̞] 'black' Possible word-medial allophone of /ɨ/.[32][33]
Spanish Mexican[citation needed] pesos [ˈpesəs] 'pesos'
Swedish be [bəˈɡoː] 'to commit' Unstressed allophone of /ɛ/, see Swedish phonology
Welsh Cymru About this sound [ˈkəmrɨ]  'Wales' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian gewoan [ɡəˈʋoə̯n] 'normal'

Mid central rounded vowel[edit]

Mid central rounded vowel

Languages may have a mid central rounded vowel (a rounded [ə]), distinct from both the close-mid and open-mid vowels. However, since no language is known to distinguish all three, there is no separate IPA symbol for the mid vowel, and the symbol [ɵ] for the close-mid central rounded vowel is generally used instead. If precision is desired, the lowering diacritic can be used: [ɵ̞]. This vowel can also be represented by adding the more rounded diacritic to the schwa symbol, or by combining the raising diacritic with the open-mid central rounded vowel symbol, although it is rare to use such symbols.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Dutch Standard Belgian[34] neus [nɵ̞ːs] 'nose' Usually transcribed in IPA as øː; in the Netherlands it is often a diphthong [ɵʉ]. See Dutch phonology
Southern[35] hut [ɦɵ̞t] 'hut' Corresponds to [ɵ] in standard Netherlandic Dutch and [ʊ̈] in standard Belgian Dutch.
English Some speakers of
New England English[36]
most [mɵ̞st] 'most' Diphthongized to [ɵ̞ə̯] before /n, t, d/; many speakers tend to merge it with /oʊ/.[36] See English phonology
French[37] je [ʒə̹] 'I' Only somewhat rounded;[37] may be more front for a number of speakers. See French phonology
German Chemnitz dialect[12] Wonne [ˈʋɞ̝n̪ə] 'bliss' See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Irish Munster[38] scoil [skө̠˕lʲ] 'school' Somewhat retracted; allophone of /ɔ/ between a broad and a slender consonant.[38] See Irish phonology
Luxembourgish[26] dënn [d̥ɵ̞n] 'thin' Slightly rounded; less often realized as unrounded [ə].[26] See Luxembourgish phonology
Russian[39][40] тётя About this sound [ˈtʲɵ̞tʲə]  'aunt' Allophone of /o/ in the environment of palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[41] full About this sound [fɵ̞lː]  'full' Pronounced with compressed lips, more closely transcribed [ɵ̞ᵝ] or [ɘ̞ᵝ]. See Swedish phonology

See also[edit]