Near-open front unrounded vowel

Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA number 325
Entity (decimal) æ
Unicode (hex) U+00E6
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The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel.[2] 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 rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish;[3][4] see open front rounded vowel for more information.

In practice, æ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.


IPA: Vowels
Front Central Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded

  • 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.


AfrikaansStandard[5]perd[pæːrt]'horse'Allophone of /ɛ/ before sequences /rs/, /rt/, /rd/ and, in some dialects, before /k x l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
ArabicStandard[6]كتاب [kiˈtæːb] '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
Catalan[7][8][9]Valenciantesi[ˈt̪æzi]'thesis'Main realization of /ɛ/. See Catalan phonology
set[s̠æ̠t̪]'seven'Near-front. Allophone of /ɛ/ found in contact with liquids and in monosyllabic terms. Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ
Some Valencian and Balearic speakers[10]llamp[ʎ̟æmp]'lightning'Allophone of /a/ in contact with palatal consonants. In some variants it can merge with /ɛ/.
Western Catalan[11][12]taula[ˈt̪ɑ̟wɫæ̝]'table'Somewhat retracted. Unstressed allophone of /a/ in the coda. It can alternate with rounded allophones in the Valencian dialects.
DanishStandard[3][13]Dansk[ˈd̥a̝nsɡ̊]'Danish'Most often transcribed in IPA with a - the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[14] See Danish phonology
DutchStandard[15]pen[pæn]'pen'Allophone of /ɛ/ before /n/ and the velarized or pharyngealized allophone of /l/. In non-standard accents this allophone is generalized to other positions, where [ɛ] is used in Standard Dutch.[16] See Dutch phonology
Some accents[17]bet[bæt]'(I) bathe'
The Hague dialect[18]maar[mæːʁ]'but'Allophone of /aː/ before /r/; more open [] in Standard Dutch.[18] See Dutch phonology
EnglishAustralian[19]cat [kʰæt] 'cat'Many younger speakers realize it as fully open [a],[20] whereas in broader accents it may be open-mid [ɛ]. See English phonology and Australian English phonology
Cultivated New Zealand[21]Higher in other New Zealand varieties. See New Zealand English phonology
General American[22]
Received Pronunciation[23]Lower [a] for many younger speakers
Cockney[25]town[tˢæːn]'town'May be lower [] or a diphthong [æə̯] instead. It corresponds to /aʊ̯/ in other dialects
Estonian[26]väle[ˈvæ̠le̞ˑ]'agile'Near-front.[26] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[27]mäki[ˈmæki]'hill'See Finnish phonology
FrenchParisian[28]bain[bæ̃]'bath'Nasalized; typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ̃. See French phonology
Quebec[29]ver[væːʁ]'worm'Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[29] See Quebec French phonology
GermanStandard[30]Teint[tʰæ̃ː]'complexion'Nasalized; also described as open-mid [ɛ̃ː].[31][32] Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ̃ː. Present only in loanwords. See Standard German phonology
Northern accents[33]alles[ˈæləs]'everything'Lower and often also more back in other accents.[33] See Standard German phonology
Standard Austrian[34]oder[ˈoːdæ]'or'Used by some speakers instead of [ɐ].[34] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[35]Used instead of [ɐ].[35] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[36]spät[ʃpæːt]'late'Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[37] See Standard German phonology
GreekMacedonia[38]γάτα/gáta[ˈɣætæ]'cat'See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian[40]nem[næm]'no'Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. See Hungarian phonology
LimburgishMany dialects[42][43][44]twelf[ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf]'twelve'Front[43][44] or near-front,[42] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is near-front.
LuxembourgishStandard[45]Käpp[kʰæpʰ]'heads'See Luxembourgish phonology
Some speakers[46]Kap[kʰa̝ːpʰ]'cap'Possible phonetic realization of /aː/; more often open near-front [a̠ː] instead.[47] See Luxembourgish phonology
NorwegianUrban East[48][49]lær[læːɾ]'leather'See Norwegian phonology
Persian هشت [hæʃt] 'eight'
PortugueseSome dialects[50]pedra[ˈpæðɾɐ]'stone'Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[51]também[tɐˈmæ̃]'also'Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
RipuarianKerkrade dialect[52]den[dæn]'because'Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʀ/.[52]
RomanianBukovinian dialect[53]piele[ˈpæle]'skin'Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[53] See Romanian phonology
Russian[54][55]пять [pʲætʲ] 'five'Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-CroatianZeta-Raška dialectдан/dan[d̪æn̪]'day'Regional reflex of Proto-Slavic *ь and *ъ. Sometimes nasalised.[56]
SlovakSome speakers[57]väzy[ˈʋæzi̞]'ligaments'Many speakers pronounce it the same as [ɛ̝]. See Slovak phonology
SwedishCentral Standard[58][59][60]ära [²æːɾä] 'hono(u)r'Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[60]läsa[²læːsä]'to read'Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[61]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 [].[61] See Turkish phonology

See also


  1. While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  3. 1 2 Grønnum (1998:100)
  4. Basbøll (2005:46)
  5. Donaldson (1993:3)
  6. Holes (2004:60)
  7. Recasens (1996:81)
  8. Recasens (1996:130–131)
  9. Rafel (1999:14)
  10. Saborit (2009:24–25)
  11. Recasens (1996:?)
  12. Saborit (2009:25–26)
  13. Basbøll (2005:45)
  14. Basbøll (2005:32)
  15. Collins & Mees (2003:92, 129)
  16. Collins & Mees (2003:92, 128–129, 131)
  17. Collins & Mees (2003:92, 131)
  18. 1 2 Collins & Mees (2003:133)
  19. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009a)
  20. Cox & Fletcher (2017:179)
  21. Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  22. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009b)
  23. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009c), Roach (2004:242)
  24. 1 2 Lodge (2009:168)
  25. Wells (1982:309)
  26. 1 2 Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  27. Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  28. Collins & Mees (2013:226)
  29. 1 2 Walker (1984:75)
  30. Mangold (2005:37)
  31. Hall (2003:106–107)
  32. Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34)
  33. 1 2 Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:64)
  34. 1 2 Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015:?)
  35. 1 2 Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:40)
  36. Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:65)
  37. Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34, 64–65)
  38. 1 2 3 Newton (1972:11)
  39. Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  40. Szende (1994:92)
  41. François (2005:466)
  42. 1 2 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  43. 1 2 Peters (2006:119)
  44. 1 2 Verhoeven (2007:221)
  45. Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  46. Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70–71)
  47. Gilles & Trouvain (2013:71)
  48. Vanvik (1979:13)
  49. Popperwell (2010:16, 21–22)
  50. Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  51. Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (in Portuguese)
  52. 1 2 Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  53. 1 2 Pop (1938), p. 29.
  54. Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  55. Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  56. Okuka 2008, p. 171.
  57. Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  58. Eliasson (1986:273)
  59. Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  60. 1 2 Riad (2014:38)
  61. 1 2 Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)


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