Open-mid back unrounded vowel

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Open-mid back unrounded vowel
IPA number 314
Entity (decimal) ʌ
Unicode (hex) U+028C
Kirshenbaum V
Braille ⠬ (braille pattern dots-346)

The open-mid back unrounded vowel, or low-mid back unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is an open-mid back-central unrounded vowel.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʌ, graphically a rotated lowercase vee (called a turned V, though it was created as a small-capital without the crossbar), and both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as either a wedge, a caret, or a hat. In transcriptions for some languages (including Danish and several dialects of English), this symbol is also used for the near-open central vowel.

The IPA prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. However, linguists[who?] are known to use the terms "high" and "low".


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


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Cape Town[2] lot [lʌ̟t] 'lot' Near-back.[2] It corresponds to a weakly rounded [ɒ̈] in all other South African dialects.
Cardiff[3] thought [θʌ̟ːt] 'thought' Near-back,[3] for some speakers it may be rounded and closer. See English phonology
Cockney[4] no [nʌ̟ː] 'no, nah' Near-back,[4] often a diphthong. It corresponds to /əʊ̯/ in other dialects. See English phonology
General South African[5] [nʌː] May be a diphthong [ʌʊ̯] instead.[6]
Inland Northern American[7] gut About this sound [ɡʌt]  'gut' In most dialects, fronted to [ɜ], or fronted and lowered to [ɐ]. See English phonology and Northern Cities Vowel Shift
Multicultural London[8]
Older Received Pronunciation
German Chemnitz dialect[12] machen [ˈmʌχɴ̩] 'to do' Allophone of /ʌ, ʌː/ (which phonetically are central [ɜ, ɜː])[13] before and after /ŋ, kʰ, k, χ, ʁ/. Exact backness varies; it is most posterior before /χ, ʁ/.[14] See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Haida[15] [qʰwʌʔáːj] 'the rock' Allophone of /a/ (sometimes also /aː/) after uvular and epiglottal consonants.[16]
Irish Ulster dialect[17] ola [ʌl̪ˠə] 'oil' See Irish phonology
Kaingang[18] [ˈɾʌ] 'mark' Varies between back [ʌ] and central [ɜ].[19]
Korean[20] /byeol [pjʌl] 'star' See Korean phonology
Lillooet [example needed] Retracted counterpart of /ə/.

Before World War II, the /ʌ/ of Received Pronunciation was phonetically close to a back vowel [ʌ]; this sound has since shifted forward towards [ɐ] (a near-open central unrounded vowel). Daniel Jones reports his speech (southern British), as having an advanced back vowel [ʌ̟] between his central /ə/ and back /ɔ/; however, he also reports that other southern speakers had a lower and even more advanced vowel approaching cardinal [a].[21] In American English varieties, e.g. the West and Midwest, and the urban South, the typical phonetic realization of the phoneme /ʌ/ is an open-mid central unrounded vowel [ɜ].[22][23] Truly backed variants of /ʌ/ that are phonetically [ʌ] can occur in Inland Northern American English, Newfoundland English, Philadelphia English, some African-American Englishes, and (old-fashioned) white Southern English in coastal plain and Piedmont areas.[24][25] Despite this, the letter ʌ is still commonly used to indicate this phoneme, even in the more common varieties with central variants [ɐ] or [ɜ]. This may be due to both tradition as well as the fact that some other dialects retain the older pronunciation.[26]


  1. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. ^ a b c Lass (2002), p. 115.
  3. ^ a b Coupland (1990), p. 95.
  4. ^ a b Wells (1982a), p. 309.
  5. ^ Wells (1982b), pp. 614, 621.
  6. ^ Wells (1982b), p. 614.
  7. ^ W. Labov, S. Ash and C. Boberg (1997), A national map of the regional dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved May 27, 2013 
  8. ^ Gimson (2014), p. 91.
  9. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 61–63.
  10. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 73–74.
  11. ^ Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 7.
  12. ^ Khan & Weise (2013), pp. 235, 238.
  13. ^ Khan & Weise (2013), p. 236.
  14. ^ Khan & Weise (2013), p. 238.
  15. ^ Lawrence (1977), pp. 32–33.
  16. ^ Lawrence (1977), pp. 32–33, 36.
  17. ^ Ní Chasaide (1999), pp. 114–115.
  18. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676–677, 682.
  19. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676, 682.
  20. ^ Lee (1999).
  21. ^ Jones (1972), pp. 86–88.
  22. ^ Gordon (2004b), p. 340.
  23. ^ Tillery & Bailey (2004), p. 333.
  24. ^ Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 112–115, 121, 134, 174.
  25. ^ Gordon (2004a), pp. 294–296.
  26. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 135.


  • Coupland, Nikolas (1990), English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change, ISBN 1-85359-032-0 
  • Gimson, Alfred Charles (2014), Cruttenden, Alan, ed., Gimson's Pronunciation of English (8th ed.), Routledge, ISBN 9781444183092 
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004a), "New York, Philadelphia and other Northern Cities", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 294–296, ISBN 3-11-017532-0 
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004b), "The West and Midwest: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 340, ISBN 3-11-017532-0 
  • Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2009), "Fonologia e prosódia do Kaingáng falado em Cacique Doble", Anais do SETA (Campinas: Editora do IEL-UNICAMP) 3: 675–685 
  • Jones, Daniel (1972), An outline of English phonetics (9th ed.), Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. 
  • Khan, Sameer ud Dowla; Weise, Constanze (2013), "Upper Saxon (Chemnitz dialect)" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43 (2): 231–241, doi:10.1017/S0025100313000145 
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 
  • Lawrence, Erma (1977), Haida dictionary, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center 
  • Lee, Hyun Bok (1999), "Korean", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–122, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Ní Chasaide, Ailbhe (1999). "Irish". Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Cambridge University Press. pp. 111–116. ISBN 0-521-63751-1. 
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing 
  • Scobbie, James M; Gordeeva, Olga B.; Matthews, Benjamin (2006), Acquisition of Scottish English Phonology: an overview, Edinburgh: QMU Speech Science Research Centre Working Papers 
  • Thomas, Erik R. (2001), "An acoustic analysis of vowel variation in New World English", Publication of the American Dialect Society (Duke University Press for the American Dialect Society) 85, ISSN 0002-8207 
  • Tillery, Jan; Bailey, Guy (2004), "The urban South: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W., A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 333, ISBN 3-11-017532-0 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982a). "Accents of English 2: The British Isles". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982b). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.