Near-open front unrounded vowel

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Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA number 325
Entity (decimal) æ
Unicode (hex) U+00E6
Kirshenbaum &
Braille ⠩ (braille pattern dots-146)

The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel.[1] 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;[2][3] see open front rounded vowel for more information.

The IPA prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of this article follows this preference. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low".

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


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
i • y
ɨ • ʉ
ɯ • u
ɪ • ʏ
ɪ̈ • ʊ̈
ɯ̽ • ʊ
e • ø
ɘ • ɵ
ɤ • o
 • ø̞
ə • ɵ̞
ɤ̞ • 
ɛ • œ
ɜ • ɞ
ʌ • ɔ
æ • 
ɐ • ɞ̞
a • ɶ
ä • ɒ̈
ɑ • ɒ
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view
  • 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[4] 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[5] 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
Catalan[6][7][8] 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[9] llamp [ʎ̟æmp] 'lightning' Allophone of /a/ in contact with palatal consonants. In some variants it can merge with /ɛ/.
Western Catalan[10][11] taula [ˈt̪ɑ̟wɫæ̝] 'table' Somewhat retracted. Unstressed allophone of /a/ in the coda. It can alternate with rounded allophones in the Valencian dialects.
Danish Standard[2][12] Dansk [ˈd̥ænsɡ̊] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩ - the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[13] See Danish phonology
English Australian[14] cat About this sound [kʰæt]  'cat' Many younger speakers realize it as fully open [a],[15] whereas in broader accents it may be open-mid [ɛ]. See English phonology and Australian English phonology
Cultivated New Zealand[16] Higher in other New Zealand varieties. See New Zealand English phonology
General American[17]
Received Pronunciation[18] Lower [a] for many younger speakers
Norfolk[19] [kʰæ̠t] Near-front.[19]
Cockney[20] town [tˢæːn] 'town' May be lower [] or a diphthong [æə̯] instead. It corresponds to /aʊ̯/ in other dialects
Estonian[21] väle [ˈvæ̠lɛˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[21] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[22] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Parisian[23] bain [bæ̃] 'bath' Nasalized; typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃⟩. See French phonology
Quebec[24] ver [væːʁ] 'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[24] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[25] Teint [tʰæ̃ː] 'complexion' Nasalized; also described as open-mid [ɛ̃ː].[26][27] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃ː⟩. Present only in loanwords. See Standard German phonology
Northern accents[28] alles [ˈæləs] 'everything' Lower and often also more back in other accents.[28] See Standard German phonology
Standard Austrian[29] oder [ˈoːdæ] 'or' Used by some speakers instead of [ɐ].[29] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[30] Used instead of [ɐ].[30] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[31] spät [ʃpæːt] 'late' Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[32] See Standard German phonology
Greek Macedonia[33] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[34] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hungarian[35] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Hungarian phonology
Lakon[36] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Limburgish Hasselt dialect[37] mès [mæs²] 'knife'
Maastrichtian[38] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Near-front.[38]
Luxembourgish[39] Käpp [kʰæp] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[40][41] lær [læːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Polish[42] ten [t̪æn̪] 'this one'
(masc. nom.)
Rare realization of /ɛ/.[43] See Polish phonology
Portuguese Some dialects[44] pedra [ˈpæðɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[45] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[46] dem [dæm] [translation needed] Allophone of /ɛ/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[46]
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[47] piele [pæle][stress?] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[47] See Romanian phonology
Russian[48][49] пять About this sound [pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Slovak[50] väzy [ˈʋæzɪ] 'ligaments' Somewhat rare pronunciation, with [ɛ] being more common. See Slovak phonology
Swedish Central Standard[51][52][53] ära About this sound [²æːɾä]  'honour' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[53] läsa [²læːsä] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[54] 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 [].[54] See Turkish phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. ^ a b Grønnum (1998:100)
  3. ^ Basbøll (2005:46)
  4. ^ Donaldson (1993:3)
  5. ^ Holes (2004:60)
  6. ^ Recasens (1996:81)
  7. ^ Recasens (1996:130–131)
  8. ^ Rafel (1999:14)
  9. ^ Saborit (2009:24-25)
  10. ^ Recasens (1996:?)
  11. ^ Saborit (2009:25-26)
  12. ^ Basbøll (2005:45)
  13. ^ Basbøll (2005:32)
  14. ^ Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009a)
  15. ^ Cox (2012:160)
  16. ^ Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  17. ^ Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009b)
  18. ^ Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009c), Roach (2004:242)
  19. ^ a b Lodge (2009:168)
  20. ^ Wells (1982:309)
  21. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  22. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  23. ^ Collins & Mees (2013:226)
  24. ^ a b Walker (1984:75)
  25. ^ Mangold (2005:37)
  26. ^ Hall (2003:106–107)
  27. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34)
  28. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:64)
  29. ^ a b Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015:?)
  30. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:40)
  31. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:65)
  32. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34, 64–65)
  33. ^ a b c Newton (1972:11)
  34. ^ Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  35. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  36. ^ François (2005:466)
  37. ^ Peters (2006:119)
  38. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  39. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  40. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  41. ^ Popperwell (2010:16, 21–22)
  42. ^ Rocławski (1976:75, 108)
  43. ^ Rocławski (1976:108)
  44. ^ Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  45. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (Portuguese)
  46. ^ a b Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  47. ^ a b Pop (1938), p. 29.
  48. ^ Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  49. ^ Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  50. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  51. ^ Eliasson (1986:273)
  52. ^ Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  53. ^ a b Riad (2014:38)
  54. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)