Near-open front unrounded vowel

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Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA Number325
Entity (decimal)æ
Unicode (hex)U+00E6
Braille⠩ (braille pattern dots-146)
Audio sample

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 ⟨Æligature. 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.


  • 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 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[5] perd [pæːrt] 'horse' Allophone of /ɛ/ before sequences /rs/, /rt/, /rd/ and, in some dialects, before /k x l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Standard[6] كتاب About this sound[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
Bashkir йәй / yäy About this sound[jæj]  'summer'
Bengali দেখ [d̪ækʰ] 'meaning' Used by some speakers instead of /ɛ/. See Bengali phonology
Berber [æmæ] 'water'
Catalan[7][8][9] Valencian tesi [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.
Danish Standard[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
Dutch Standard[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
English Australian[19] cat About this sound[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
Norfolk[24] [kʰæ̠t] Near-front.[24]
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
French Parisian[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
German Standard Austrian[30] oder [ˈoːdæ] 'or' Used by some speakers instead of [ɐ].[30] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[31] Used instead of [ɐ].[31] See Standard German phonology
Chemnitz dialect[32] Werk [v̞æ̠ˤːʃ] 'work' Near-front; may be a backing diphthong [ɛːɒ̯ˤ] instead. May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨aˤː⟩.[32]
Northern accents[33] alles [ˈa̝ləs] 'everything' Lower and often also more back in other accents.[33] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[34] spät [ʃpæːt] 'late' Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[35] See Standard German phonology
Greek Macedonia[36] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[37] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hungarian[38] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Hungarian phonology
Lakon[39] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Kurdish South Kurdish گه‌ن [gæn] 'bad' See Kurdish phonology
Limburgish Many dialects[40][41][42] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Front[41][42] or near-front,[40] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is near-front.
Luxembourgish Standard[43] Käpp [kʰæpʰ] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Some speakers[44] Kap [kʰa̝ːpʰ] 'cap' Possible phonetic realization of /aː/; more often open near-front [a̠ː] instead.[45] See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[46][47] lær [læːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Persian هشت [hæʃt] 'eight'
Portuguese Some dialects[48] pedra [ˈpædɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[49] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[50] den [dæn] 'because' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʀ/.[50]
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[51] piele [ˈpæle] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[51] See Romanian phonology
Russian[52][53] пять About this sound[pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sinhala ඇය [æjə] 'she'
Serbo-Croatian Zeta-Raška dialect дан/dan [d̪æn̪] 'day' Regional reflex of Proto-Slavic *ь and *ъ. Sometimes nasalised.[54]
Slovak Some speakers[55] väzy [ˈʋæzi̞] 'ligaments' Many speakers pronounce it the same as [ɛ̝]. See Slovak phonology
Swedish Central Standard[56][57][58] ära About this sound[²æːɾä]  'hono(u)r' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[58] läsa [²læːsä] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[59] 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 [].[59] See Turkish phonology

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. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b Lodge (2009:168)
  25. ^ Wells (1982:309)
  26. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  27. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  28. ^ Collins & Mees (2013:226)
  29. ^ a b Walker (1984:75)
  30. ^ a b Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015:342)
  31. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:40)
  32. ^ a b Khan & Weise (2013:236–237)
  33. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:64)
  34. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:65)
  35. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34, 64–65)
  36. ^ a b c Newton (1972:11)
  37. ^ Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  38. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  39. ^ François (2005:466)
  40. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  41. ^ a b Peters (2006:119)
  42. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007:221)
  43. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  44. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70–71)
  45. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:71)
  46. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  47. ^ Popperwell (2010:16, 21–22)
  48. ^ Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  49. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP ‹See Tfd›(in Portuguese)
  50. ^ a b Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  51. ^ a b Pop (1938), p. 29.
  52. ^ Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  53. ^ Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  54. ^ Okuka 2008, p. 171.
  55. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  56. ^ Eliasson (1986:273)
  57. ^ Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  58. ^ a b Riad (2014:38)
  59. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)


External links[edit]