Open-mid front rounded vowel

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Open-mid front rounded vowel
IPA number 311
Entity (decimal) œ
Unicode (hex) U+0153
Kirshenbaum W
Braille ⠪ (braille pattern dots-246)

The open-mid front rounded vowel, or low-mid front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is œ. The symbol œ is a lowercase ligature of the letters o and e. Note that ɶ, a small caps version of the Œ ligature, is used for a distinct vowel sound: the open front rounded vowel.

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

Open-mid front compressed vowel[edit]


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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  • Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between an open vowel (a low vowel) and a mid vowel.
  • 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.
  • Its roundedness is compressed, which means that the margins of the lips are tense and drawn together in such a way that the inner surfaces are not exposed.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Azeri öküz [œˈcyz] 'ox'
Afrikaans Standard[1] lug [lœχ] 'air' Many speakers merge /œ/ and /ə/ into [ɪ̈], especially in natural speech.[1] See Afrikaans phonology
Armenian Western Armenian Էօժենի [œʒɛˈni] 'Eugenie'
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[2] Seil [sœ̠ː] 'rope' Near-front; may be transcribed /ɶ/.[2]
Chinese Cantonese /hoe1 [hœː˥] 'boots' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin /y [ɥœ˥˩] 'moon' See Mandarin phonology
Wu [ɰœ˩˧] 'bowl'
Danish Standard[3][4][5] gøre [ˈɡ̊œ̠ːɐ] 'to do' Near-front.[3][4] Most often, it is transcribed [œ̞ː] or the same as [ɶː]. See Danish phonology
Dutch Southern uit [œːt] 'out' Some dialects, corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
The Hague[6] Corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch.
Limburg hut [hœt] 'hut' Some dialects. Corresponds to [ɵ] in standard Dutch.
English Cockney[7] bird [bœ̠ːd] 'bird' Near-front.[7] May as well be unrounded [ɜ̟ː], or the RP variant /ɜː/.
New Zealand[8] Near-front;[8] may be [ɵ̟ː] or [ø̞̈ː] instead. See English phonology
South African[9]
go [ɡœː] 'go' Some speakers. Can be a diphthong of the type [œʉ]~[œɤ̈] instead. Other South African varieties don't monophthongize.
Faroese løgdu [lœdːʊ] 'laid' (pl.)
French[10] jeune [ʒœn] 'young' See French phonology
German Standard[11] Hölle [ˈhœ̞̈lə] 'hell' Near-front and somewhat lowered.[11] See German phonology
Lori shö [ʃœ] 'night'
Mongolian Chakhar ᠣᠨᠢᠰᠤ [œnʲs] 'lock' The standard dialect in Inner Mongolia.
North Frisian blömk [blœmk] 'flower'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[12] øl [œ̠l̪] 'beer' Near-front.[12] See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Auvergnat puei [pœj] 'then' Some dialects, especially the northern ones
Western Lombard fioeu [fjœː] 'son' Old Milanese; now an allophone of /ø/
West Frisian Súdwesthoeksk[13] skoalle [ˈskœlə] 'school' See West Frisian phonology

Icelandic ö is often transcribed as /œ/, but it is actually central [ɞ].[14][15][16]

Open-mid front protruded vowel[edit]

Open-mid front protruded vowel

Catford notes that most languages with rounded front and back vowels use distinct types of labialization, protruded back vowels and compressed front vowels. However, a few languages, such as Scandinavian ones, have protruded front vowels. One of these, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels (see near-close near-front rounded vowel, with Swedish examples of both types of rounding).

As there are no diacritics in the IPA to distinguish protruded and compressed rounding, œʷ (an open-mid front rounded vowel modified by endolabialization) will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded open-mid front vowels.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Swedish Central Standard[17][18][19] öra About this sound [ˈœ̠̂ʷːˈrâ]  'ear' Allophone of /œ/ and most often also /øː/ before /r/.[17][18][19] May be more open [ɶ, ɶː] for younger speakers from Stockholm.[19] See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[19] köpa [ˈɕœ̠ʷːˈpa] 'to buy' Realization of /øː, œ/ for younger speakers.[19] Higher [øː, œ̝] for other speakers. See Swedish phonology
Southwestern dialects Corresponds to [øː] in Central Standard Swedish. See Swedish phonology


  1. ^ a b Donaldson (1993:5)
  2. ^ a b Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  3. ^ a b Grønnum (1998:100)
  4. ^ a b Grønnum (2003)
  5. ^ Basbøll (2005:46): "Nina Grønnum uses two different symbols for the vowels in these and similar words: gøre she transcribes with [œ̞] (semi-narrow transcription) and [œ] (narrow transcription), and grøn she transcribes with [ɶ] (semi-narrow transcription) and [ɶ̝] (narrow transcription). Clearly, there is variation within Standard Danish on this point, cf. the end of the present s. 2.2."
  6. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:136)
  7. ^ a b Wells (1982:305)
  8. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999:188)
  9. ^ Lass (2002:118)
  10. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  11. ^ a b Mangold (2005:37)
  12. ^ a b Vanvik (1979:13)
  13. ^ Hoekstra (2001:83)
  14. ^ Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  15. ^ Haugen (1958:65)
  16. ^ "Icelandic Phonetic Transcription.PDF - ptg_ice.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Eliasson (1986:273)
  18. ^ a b Thorén & Petterson (1992:13–14)
  19. ^ a b c d e Riad (2014:38)