The (near) open front rounded vowel, or (near) low front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, not confirmed to be phonemic in any spokenlanguages. While traditionally characterized as a fully open (low) vowel, the rounded equivalent of [a], acoustically it is near-open (or near-low), the rounded equivalent of [æ]. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɶ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is &. The letter ⟨ɶ⟩ is a small caps rendition of ⟨Œ⟩. Note that ⟨œ⟩, the lowercase version of the ligature, is used for the open-mid front rounded vowel.
A phoneme generally transcribed by this symbol is reported from the Bavarian subdialect of Amstetten. However, phonetically it is open-mid, i.e. [œ].
Riad (2014) reports that [ɶː] in Stockholm Swedish is sometimes difficult to distinguish from [ɒː] (which is the main realization of the /ɑː/ phoneme). He states that it is a sign that these vowels are phonetically very close.
Its vowel height is open, also known as low, which means the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth – that is, as low as possible in the mouth.
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 rounded, which means that the lips are rounded rather than spread or relaxed.