Near-open central vowel

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Near-open central vowel
IPA Number324
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɐ
Unicode (hex)U+0250
Braille⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)

The near-open central vowel, or near-low central vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɐ, a rotated lowercase double-story a.

In English this vowel is most typically transcribed with the symbol ʌ, i.e. as if it were open-mid back. That pronunciation is still found in some dialects, but many speakers use a central vowel like [ɐ] or [ɜ]. To avoid the trap-strut merger, Standard Southern British English is moving away from the [ɐ] quality towards [ʌ] found in RP spoken in the first half of the 20th century (e.g. in Daniel Jones's speech).[2]

Much like ə, ɐ is a versatile symbol that is not defined for roundedness[3] and that can be used for vowels that are near-open central,[4] near-open near-front,[5] near-open near-back,[6] open-mid central,[7] open central[8] or an (often unstressed) vowel with variable height, backness and/or roundedness that is produced in that general area.[9] For open central unrounded vowels transcribed with ɐ, see open central unrounded vowel.

When the usual transcription of the near-open near-front and the near-open near-back variants is different from ɐ, they are listed in near-open front unrounded vowel and open back unrounded vowel or open back rounded vowel, respectively.

The near-open central unrounded vowel is sometimes the only open vowel in a language[10] and then is typically transcribed with a.


  • Its vowel height is near-open, also known as near-low, which means the tongue is positioned similarly to an open vowel, but is slightly more constricted – that is, the tongue is positioned similarly to a low vowel, but slightly higher.
  • Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel.
  • It is undefined for roundedness, which means that it can be either rounded or unrounded. In practice however, the unrounded variant is more common.


In the following list, ɐ is assumed to be unrounded. The rounded variant is transcribed as ɐ̹. Some instances of the latter may actually be fully open.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe сэ / să [sɐ] 'I' Varies between near-open and open-mid ɜ. See Adyghe phonology
Bengali[11] পা / pa [pɐ] 'leg' Typically transcribed in IPA with a. See Bengali phonology
Bulgarian[7] пара/para [pɐˈra] 'coin' Unstressed allophone of /ɤ/ and /a/.[7] May be transcribed in IPA with ə. See Bulgarian phonology
Burmese[12] တ်/maat [mɐʔ] 'vertical' Allophone of /a/ in syllables closed by a glottal stop and when nasalized; realized as fully open [ä] in open oral syllables.[13]
Catalan Barcelona metropolitan area[14][15] emmagatzemar [ɐm(ː)ɐɣ̞ɐd͡z̺ɐˈmä] 'to store' Corresponds to [ə] in other Eastern dialects. See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese[16] / sam1 [sɐ̝m˥] 'heart' Open-mid.[16] See Cantonese phonology
Shanghainese[17] [kɐʔ˦] 'to cut' Appears only in closed syllables; the exact height and backness is somewhat variable.[17]
Danish[18] fatter [ˈfætɐ] 'understands' Typically realized the same as /ɔ/, i.e. [ɒ̽]. Other possible realizations are [ɐ] and [ə̠].[18] See Danish phonology
Dinka Luanyjang[19] laŋ [lɐ́ŋ] 'berry' Short allophone of /a/; varies between near-open [ɐ] and open-mid [ɐ̝].[19]
Emilian Bulåggna [buˈlʌɲːɐ] 'Bologna' Centralized /a/.
English California[20] nut [nɐt] 'nut' See English phonology
Cockney[21][22] [nɐ̟ʔ] Near-front.[21]
East Anglian[23] [nɐʔ] Used in some places (e.g. Colchester) instead of the traditional [ʌ].[23]
New Zealand[24] [nɐʔt] Varies between near-open near-front [ɐ̟], near-open central [ɐ], open near-front [] and open central [ɐ̞].[24] See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[2][4] Increasingly retracted to [ʌ] to avoid the trap-strut merger.[2] See English phonology
Inland Northern American[25] bet [bɐt] 'bet' Variation of /ɛ/ used in some places whose accents have undergone the Northern cities vowel shift.
Middle Class London[26] lot [lɐ̹ʔt] 'lot' Rounded; can be back [ɒ] instead.[26] See English phonology
Galician feita [ˈfejt̪ɐ] 'done' Realization of final unstressed /a/. See Galician phonology
German Standard[9] oder [ˈoːdɐ] 'or' The exact height, backness and roundedness is somewhere between [ä] and [ɔ], depending on the environment. Sometimes, an opening diphthong of the [əɐ̯]-type is used instead.[9] See Standard German phonology
Northern German accents[27] kommen [ˈkʰɐmən] 'to come' Varies between central [ɐ] and back [ɑ]; corresponds to an open-mid rounded [ɔ] in Standard German.[27] See Standard German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[10] ακακία / akaa [ɐkɐˈc̠i.ɐ] 'acacia' Most often transcribed in IPA with a. See Modern Greek phonology
Hausa[28] [example needed] Possible allophone of /a/, which can be as close as [ə] and as open as [ä].[28]
Hindustani[29] दस/دَس/das [ˈd̪ɐs] 'ten' Common realization of /ə/.[29] See Hindustani phonology
Korean[30] 하나 / hana [hɐnɐ] 'one' Typically transcribed in IPA with a. See Korean phonology
Kumzari[5] [orthographic form?] [ɡɐ̟p] 'large' Near-front.[5]
Limburgish Maastrichtian[31] väöl [vɐ̹ːl] 'much' Rounded; contrasts with the open-mid [ɞː] in words with Accent 2 ([ɐ̹ː] itself is always toneless).[32] It may be transcribed in IPA with ɶː, as it is a phonological front vowel.
Venlo dialect[33] aan [ˈɐːn] 'on' Corresponds to [] in other dialects.
Lithuanian kas [kɐs̪] 'what' See Lithuanian phonology
Luxembourgish[6] Kanner [ˈkʰɑnɐ̠] 'children' Near-back.[34] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malayalam പത്ത് [pɐt̪ːɨ̆] 'ten' See Malayalam phonology
Mapudungun[35] ka [ˈkɐ̝ʐɘ̝] 'green' Open-mid;[35] often transcribed in IPA with a.
Norwegian Østfold dialect[36] bada [ˈbɐ̹̂ːdɐ] 'to bathe' The example word illustrates both the rounded [ɐ̹] and the unrounded [ɐ].
Piedmontese Eastern Piedmont pauta [ˈpɑwtɐ] 'mud' Common realization of final unstressed /a/.
Portuguese[37][38] aja [ˈäʒɐ] 'act' (subj.) Closer [ɐ̝] in European Portuguese than in Brazilian Portuguese ([ɐ]).[37][38] See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi[39] ਖੰਡ / کھنڈ [ˈkʰɐ̌ɳɖᵊ] 'sugar' Common realization of /ə/, the inherent vowel of Punjabi. See Punjabi phonology
ਪਊਆ / پوّا [pɐwːä] 'metric half pint' Can occur as realization of tense /i/ or /u/ in some contexts followed by a geminate semi-vowel.
Romanian Moldavian dialects[40] bărbat [bɐrˈbat] 'man' Corresponds to [ə] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian Standard Moscow[41] голова / golova [ɡəɫ̪ɐˈvä] 'head' Corresponds to [ʌ] in standard Saint Petersburg pronunciation;[41] occurs mostly immediately before stressed syllables. See Russian phonology
Sabiny[42] [example needed] Contrasts overshort unrounded and overshort rounded near-open central vowels.[43]
Ukrainian[44] слива / slyva [ˈslɪwɐ] 'plum' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[45] chếch [cɐ̆jk̚] 'askance' Typically transcribed in IPA with ə̆. See Vietnamese phonology
Xumi[46][47] [tsʰɐ˦] 'salt' Near-open [ɐ] in Lower Xumi, open-mid [ɐ̝] in Upper Xumi. The latter phone may be transcribed with ɜ. The example word is from Lower Xumi.[47][48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ a b c Cruttenden (2014), p. 122.
  3. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 166.
  4. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 186.
  5. ^ a b c Anonby (2011), p. 378.
  6. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 68, 70.
  7. ^ a b c Ternes & Vladimirova-Buhtz (1999), p. 56.
  8. ^ Cox & Fletcher (2017), pp. 64–65.
  9. ^ a b c Krech et al. (2009), p. 86.
  10. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007), p. 25.
  11. ^ Khan (2010), p. 222.
  12. ^ Watkins (2001), p. 293.
  13. ^ Watkins (2001), pp. 292–293.
  14. ^ Rafel (1999), p. 14.
  15. ^ Harrison (1997), pp. 2.
  16. ^ a b Zee (1999), p. 59.
  17. ^ a b Chen & Gussenhoven (2015), p. 328.
  18. ^ a b Basbøll (2005), p. 58.
  19. ^ a b Remijsen & Manyang (2009), pp. 117, 119.
  20. ^ Ladefoged (1999), p. 42.
  21. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 305.
  22. ^ Hughes & Trudgill (1979), p. 35.
  23. ^ a b Trudgill (2004), p. 167.
  24. ^ a b Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  25. ^ Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (1997), A National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved March 15, 2013
  26. ^ a b Altendorf & Watt (2004:188). The authors differentiate between symbols [ɒ̟] and [ɒ̈]; the former denotes a more back vowel.
  27. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 64.
  28. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), pp. 90–91.
  29. ^ a b Ohala (1999), p. 102.
  30. ^ Lee (1999), p. 121.
  31. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), pp. 158–159, 162.
  32. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), pp. 159, 161–162, 164.
  33. ^ Peeters (1951), p. 39.
  34. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 70.
  35. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 92.
  36. ^ Jahr (1990:92)
  37. ^ a b Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  38. ^ a b Barbosa & Albano (2004), p. 229.
  39. ^ Bhardwaj, Mangat Rai (2016). "Chapter 4: Tone and Related Phenomena in Panjabi". Panjabi: A Comprehensive Grammar (in English and Punjabi). Abingdon: Routledge. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-315-76080-3.
  40. ^ Pop (1938), p. 29.
  41. ^ a b Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015), p. 225.
  42. ^ "UPSID 4)S". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  43. ^ "UPSID SEBEI". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  44. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  45. ^ Hoang (1965), p. 24.
  46. ^ Chirkova & Chen (2013), pp. 369–370.
  47. ^ a b Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), pp. 388–389.
  48. ^ Chirkova & Chen (2013), p. 369.


External links[edit]