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 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 an 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
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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[2] 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[3] 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[4][5][6] Majorcan sec [sæk] 'I sit' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. See Catalan phonology
Danish Standard[7][8][9][10][11] Dansk [ˈd̥ænsɡ̊] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA as a - the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[12] See Danish phonology
Dutch Low Saxon Some dialects dät [dæt] 'that' More back in other dialects.
English Australian[13] cat About this sound [kʰæt]  'cat' Contrasts with /æː/; may be higher [ɛ] in broader accents. See Australian English phonology
General American[14] See English phonology
Received Pronunciation[15] Lower [a] for many younger speakers. See English phonology
Norfolk[16] [kʰæ̠t] Near-front.[16]
Cockney[17] town [tˢæːn] 'town' May be lower [] or a diphthong [æə̯] instead. It corresponds to /aʊ̯/ in other dialects. See English phonology
Estonian[18] väle [ˈvælɛˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[18] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[19] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Popular Parisian[20] 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.[21] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[22] Pointe [ˈpʰo̯æ̃ːtʰə] 'punch line' Nasalized.[22] Most often transcribed in IPA as ɛ̃(ː). Present only in loanwords. See German phonology
Greek Macedonia[23] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[24] καλάθια [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Thessaly[23] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat'
Hindi बैल [bæl] 'oxen' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Jalapa Mazatec tsæ [tsǣ] 'guava'
Lakon[25] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Latvian ezers [ˈæz̪ærs̪] 'lake'
Lithuanian eglė [ˈæːɡʲlʲeː] 'spruce tree'
Luxembourgish[26] Käpp [kʰæpʰ] 'heads' Somewhat lowered.
Norwegian Bergen[27] ett [æt] 'one' Corresponds to /æ/ and /ɛ/ in other dialects. May also be pronounced as [ɪ]. See Norwegian phonology
Standard Eastern[28] lær [l̪æːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Persian در [dær] 'door' See Persian phonology
Portuguese Some dialects[29] pedra [ˈpæðɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[30] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/. See Portuguese phonology
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[31] dem [dæm] [translation needed] Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[31]
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[32] piele [pæle][stress?] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[32] See Romanian phonology
Russian[33] пять About this sound [pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sinhala කැමති [kæməti] 'to like'
Slovak[34] väzy [ˈʋæzɪ] 'ligaments' Somewhat rare pronunciation, with [ɛ] being more common.
Swedish Central Standard[35][36][37] ära About this sound [ˈæ̂ːˈɾâ]  'honour' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[37] läsa [ˈlæ̂ːˈsâ] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers. See Swedish phonology
Turkish[38] 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 [].[38] 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]