Near-open front unrounded vowel

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Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA number 325
Entity (decimal) æ
Unicode (hex) U+00E6
Kirshenbaum &
Braille ⠩ (braille pattern dots-146)

The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is æ, a lowercase of the Æ ligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "ash".

The rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish;[2][3] see open front rounded vowel for more information.

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

In practice, æ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
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 near-open, also known as near-low, which means the tongue is positioned similarly to an open vowel, but is slightly more constricted – that is, the tongue is positioned similarly to a low vowel, but slightly higher.
  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Note that rounded front vowels are often centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-front.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[4] perd [pæːrt] 'horse' Allophone of /ɛ/ before sequences /rs/, /rt/, /rd/ and, in some dialects, before /k x l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
Ahtna kuggaedi [kʰuk̠æti] 'mosquito'
Arabic Standard[5] كتاب About this sound [kiˈt̪æːb]  'book' Allophone of /a/ in the environment of plain labial and coronal consonants as well as /j/ (depending on the speaker's accent). See Arabic phonology
Azerbaijani səs [sæs] 'sound'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic nata [næːta] 'ear' In some speakers of the Urmia and Jilu dialects; Others may use [a]. Outside these dialects, [ä] is widespread; However, the Tyari dialects may use [ɑ].
Bengali এক [æk] 'one' See Bengali phonology
Catalan[6][7][8] Valencian set [ˈs̠æt̪] 'seven' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. [æ] may approach /a/ in contact with liquids or in monosyllabic terms. See Catalan phonology
Some Balearic speakers
Some Valencian and Balearic speakers[9] llamp [ˈl̠ʲæmp] 'lightning' Allophone of /a/ in contact with palatal consonants. In some variants it can merge with /ɛ/.
Many Western Catalan dialects[10][11] taula [ˈt̪ɑ̟wɫæ̝] 'table' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. Unstressed allophone of /a/ and /e/ in the coda. It can alternate with [ɒ] or always be pronounced [ɒ] in the Valencian dialects.
Danish Standard[2][12][13][14][15] Dansk [ˈd̥ænsɡ̊] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA as a - the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[16] See Danish phonology
Dutch Low Saxon Some dialects dät [dæt] 'that' More back in other dialects
English Australian[17] cat About this sound [kʰæt]  'cat' Contrasts with /æː/; may be higher [ɛ] in broader accents. See English phonology and Australian English phonology
General American[18]
Received Pronunciation[19] Lower [a] for many younger speakers
Norfolk[20] [kʰæ̠t] Near-front.[20]
Cockney[21] town [tˢæːn] 'town' May be lower [] or a diphthong [æə̯] instead. It corresponds to /aʊ̯/ in other dialects
Estonian[22] väle [ˈvælɛˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[22] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[23] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Popular Parisian[24] tard [ˈtæʀ] 'late' See French phonology
Quebec ver About this sound [væːʁ]  'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[25] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[26] Pointe [ˈpʰo̯æ̃ːtʰə] 'punch line' Nasalized.[26] Most often transcribed in IPA as ɛ̃(ː). Present only in loanwords. See German phonology
Greek Macedonia[27] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[28] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hindi बैल [bæl] 'oxen' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Italian Bari Bari [ˈbæri] 'Bari (a city)'
Jalapa Mazatec tsæ [tsǣ] 'guava'
Lakon[29] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Latvian ezers [ˈæz̪ærs̪] 'lake'
Limburgish Hasselt dialect[30] mès [mæs²] 'knife'
Maastrichtian[31] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Near-front.[31]
Lithuanian eglė [ˈæːɡʲlʲeː] 'spruce tree'
Luxembourgish[32][33] Käpp [kʰæp] 'heads' Described variously as near-open[32] and slightly lowered near-open.[33] See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Bergen[34] ett [æt] 'one' Corresponds to /æ/ and /ɛ/ in other dialects. May also be pronounced as [ɪ]. See Norwegian phonology
Standard Eastern[35] lær [l̪æːɾ] 'leather'
Persian در [dær] 'door' See Persian phonology
Portuguese Some dialects[36] pedra [ˈpæðɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[37] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[38] dem [dæm] [translation needed] Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[38]
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[39] piele [pæle][stress?] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[39] See Romanian phonology
Russian[40] пять About this sound [pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sinhala කැමති [kæməti] 'to like'
Slovak[41] väzy [ˈʋæzɪ] 'ligaments' Somewhat rare pronunciation, with [ɛ] being more common. See Slovak phonology
Spanish[citation needed] Eastern Andalusian seis [ˈsæɪ̯ʰ] 'six' Lowered allophone of /e/ before /s/ ([ɛʰ]) in some instances. In some variants it can merge with /a/ ([æ̞]). See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[42][43][44] ära About this sound [ˈæ̂ːˈɾâ]  'honour' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[44] läsa [ˈlæ̂ːˈsâ] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[45] sen [s̪æn̪] 'you' Allophone of /e/ before syllable-final /m, n, l, r/. In a limited number of words (but not before /r/), it is in free variation with [].[45] See Turkish phonology
Vietnamese Northern pha [fæ] 'phase' Some dialects. Corresponds to [a] in other dialects. See Vietnamese phonology
Yaghan mæpi [mæpi] 'reed'

See also[edit]