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. Acoustically it is an open-mid front-central rounded vowel.[1] 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]

The open-mid front compressed vowel is typically transcribed in IPA simply as œ, and that is the convention used in this article. There is no dedicated diacritic for compression in the IPA. However, the compression of the lips can be shown with the letter β̞ as ɛ͡β̞ (simultaneous [ɛ] and labial compression) or ɛᵝ ([ɛ] modified with labial compression). The spread-lip diacritic   ͍ may also be used with a rounded vowel letter œ͍ as an ad hoc symbol, though technically 'spread' means unrounded.


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[2] lug [lœχ] 'air' Many speakers merge /œ/ and /ə/ into [ɪ̈], especially in natural speech.[2] See Afrikaans phonology
Armenian Western Armenian Էօժենի [œʒɛˈni] 'Eugenie'
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3] Seil [sœ̠ː] 'rope' Near-front; may be transcribed /ɶ/.[3]
Chinese Cantonese /hoe1 [hœː˥] 'boots' See Cantonese phonology
Wu [ɰœ˩˧] 'bowl'
Danish Standard[4][5][6] gøre [ˈɡ̊œ̠ːɐ] 'to do' Near-front.[4][5] 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[7] Corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch.
Limburg hut [hœt] 'hut' Some dialects. Corresponds to [ɵ] in standard Dutch.
English Cockney[8] bird [bœ̠ːd] 'bird' Near-front.[8] May as well be unrounded [ɜ̟ː], or the RP variant /ɜː/.
New Zealand[9] Near-front;[9] may be [ɵ̟ː] or [ø̞̈ː] instead. See English phonology
South African[10]
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[11] jeune [ʒœn] 'young' See French phonology
German Standard[12] Hölle [ˈhœ̞̈lə] 'hell' Near-front and somewhat lowered.[12] See German phonology
Limburgish[13][14][15] väöl [vœ̠ːl] 'much' Near-front.[13][14][15] The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.[16]
Lori shö [ʃœ] 'night'
Luxembourgish[17][18] Interieur [ˈɛ̃ːtəʀiœːʀ] 'interior' Occurs only in loanwords.[17][18] See Luxembourgish phonology
Mongolian Chakhar ᠣᠨᠢᠰᠤ [œnʲs] 'lock' The standard dialect in Inner Mongolia.
North Frisian blömk [blœmk] 'flower'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[19] øl [œ̠l̪] 'beer' Near-front.[19] See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Limousin puei [pœj] 'then'
Some Auvergnat varieties Most common in the north.
Turkish [example needed] Near-front; allophone of /ø/ in final open syllable of a phrase. Occurs only in loanwords. See Turkish phonology
Western Lombard fioeu [fjœː] 'son' Allophone of /ø/.
West Frisian Hindeloopers[20] [example needed] See West Frisian phonology
Súdwesthoeksk[20][21] skoalle [ˈskœlə] 'school'

Icelandic ö is often transcribed as /œ/, but it is actually central [ɞ].[22][23][24]

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, an old diacritic for labialization,   ̫, will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded front vowels. Another possible transcription is œʷ or ɛʷ (an open-mid front vowel modified by endolabialization), but this could be misread as a diphthong.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Swedish Central Standard[25][26][27] öra About this sound [ˈœ̫̂ːˈrâ̠]  'ear' Allophone of /œ/ and most often also /øː/ before /r/.[25][26][27] May be more open [ɶ, ɶː] for younger speakers from Stockholm.[27] See Swedish phonology
Southwestern dialects köpa [ˈɕœ̫ːˈpa̠] 'to buy' Higher [øː] for other speakers. See Swedish phonology
Younger Stockholm speakers[27]


  1. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. ^ a b Donaldson (1993:5)
  3. ^ a b Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. ^ a b Grønnum (1998:100)
  5. ^ a b Grønnum (2003)
  6. ^ Basbøll (2005:46): "Nina Grønnum uses two different symbols for the vowels in these and similar words: gøre she transcribes with (...) [œ] (narrow transcription), and grøn she transcribes with (...) [ɶ̝] (narrow transcription). Clearly, there is variation within Standard Danish on this point (...)."
  7. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:136)
  8. ^ a b Wells (1982:305)
  9. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999:188)
  10. ^ Lass (2002:118)
  11. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  12. ^ a b Mangold (2005:37)
  13. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  14. ^ a b Peters (2006:119)
  15. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007:221)
  16. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:158)
  17. ^ a b Trouvain & Gilles (2009:75)
  18. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013:72)
  19. ^ a b Vanvik (1979:13)
  20. ^ a b van der Veen (2001:102)
  21. ^ Hoekstra (2001:83)
  22. ^ Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  23. ^ Haugen (1958:65)
  24. ^ "Icelandic Phonetic Transcription.PDF - ptg_ice.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Eliasson (1986:273)
  26. ^ a b Thorén & Petterson (1992:13–14)
  27. ^ a b c d Riad (2014:38)