Open central unrounded vowel

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Open central unrounded vowel
ɑ̈
ɐ̞
IPA number 304 415
Encoding
Entity (decimal) a​̈
Unicode (hex) U+0061 U+0308
X-SAMPA a_" or a_- or A_" or 6_o
Listen

The open central unrounded vowel, or low central unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. While the International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no dedicated letter for this sound between front [a] and back [ɑ], it is normally written ⟨a⟩. If precision is required, it can be specified by using diacritics, such as centralized ⟨ä⟩ or retracted ⟨⟩, but this is not common.

Acoustically, however, [a] is an extra-low central vowel.[2] It is more common to use plain [a] for an open central vowel and, if needed, [æ] (officially near-open front vowel) for an open front vowel. Alternatively, Sinologists may use the letter ⟨⟩ (small capital A), the IPA voted against officially adopting this symbol in 2011–2012.[3]

Contrast[edit]

The Hamont dialect of Limburgish has been reported to contrast long open front, central and back unrounded vowels,[4] which is extremely unusual.

Features[edit]

IPA: Vowels
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
Close
Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open

Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded

  • 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 central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel. This often subsumes open (low) front vowels, because the tongue does not have as much flexibility in positioning as it does for the close (high) vowels; the difference between an open front vowel and an open back vowel is equal to the difference between a close front and a close central vowel, or a close central and a close back vowel.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.

Occurrence[edit]

Most languages have some form of an unrounded open vowel, because the IPA uses ⟨a⟩ for both front and central unrounded open vowels, it is not always clear whether a particular language uses the former or the latter.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[5] [example needed]
Burmese[6] မာ / ma [mä] 'hard' Oral allophone of /a/ in open syllables; realized as near-open [ɐ] in other environments.[6]
Catalan[7] sac [s̠äk] 'sack' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Mandarin[8] / tā About this sound [tʰä˥]  'he' See Standard Chinese phonology
Cantonese[9] / fāan About this sound [faːn˥] 'return' Allophone of /aː/ in syllable closed by plosives and nasals.[10] See Cantonese phonology
Czech[11][12] prach [präx] 'dust' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[13][14] barn [ˈb̥äːˀn] 'child' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɑː⟩ - the way it is realized in the conservative variety.[15] See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard[16][17] zaal [zäːɫ] 'hall' Ranges from front to central;[18] in non-standard accents it may be back. See Dutch phonology
Amsterdam[19] bad [bät] 'bath' Also present in many other non-Randstad accents.[19] It corresponds to [ɑ] in Standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Antwerp[19]
Brabant[19]
English Australian[20] car [kʰäː] 'car' See Australian English phonology
Cultivated South African[21] Some speakers. For other speakers, it is less front [ɑ̟ː][21][22] or, in Estuary English, even more back [ɑː].[22] See South African English phonology
Estuary[22]
Norfolk[23]
General
South African[24]
time [tʰäːm] 'time' Corresponds to the diphthong /aɪ/ in most dialects. General South African speakers may also monophthongize /aʊ/. See English phonology and South African English phonology
Southern American[25]
General American[26] cot [kʰäʔt̚] 'cot' It may be more back [ɑ̟ ~ ɑ], especially for speakers with the cotcaught merger. See English phonology
Southern Michigan[27] See English phonology
Multicultural London[28] trap [t̠ɹ̝̊äʔp] 'trap' More front [ɛ ~ æ ~ a] for other Southeastern English speakers. See English phonology
Some speakers from Reading[22]
Northern England[29] [t̠ɹ̝̊äp] Notably prevalent in Yorkshire, mainly around the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. More front [æ ~ a] for some other speakers. See English phonology
Vancouver[30] [t̠ɹ̝̊äp̚] See Canadian Shift and English phonology
Younger speakers from Ontario[31]
Finnish[32] kana [ˈkänä] 'hen' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɑ⟩; also described as near-open back [ɑ̝].[33] See Finnish phonology
French Parisian[34][35] patte [pät̪] 'paw' Older speakers have two contrastive open vowels: front /a/ and back /ɑ/.[35] See French phonology
Galician[36] macio [ˈmäθjo̞] 'soft' See Galician phonology
German Standard[37][38] Katze [ˈkʰät͡sə] 'cat' Backness varies among regional accents.[39] See Standard German phonology
Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region[40] oder [ˈʔoːdä] 'or' Used instead of [ɐ].[41] See Standard German phonology
Many speakers[42] Haar [häː] 'hair' Used much more often than the closing diphthong [äːɐ̯][42] (hear the word: About this sound [häːɐ̯]). The exact backness may vary somewhat; for instance, in the Standard Austrian accent, it is back [ɑː].[43] See Standard German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[44] ακακία / akaa [äkäˈc̠i.ä] 'acacia' Also described as near-open [ɐ].[45][46] See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew[47] פח About this sound [päχ]   'garbage can' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[48] láb [läːb] 'leg' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[49][50] fara [ˈfäːrä] 'go' See Icelandic phonology
Italian[51] casa [ˈkäːzä] 'home' See Italian phonology
Japanese[52] ka About this sound [kä]   'mosquito' See Japanese phonology
Limburgish Hamont dialect[4] zaak [²zäːk] 'business' Contrasts with front [] and back [ɑː].[4] See Hamont dialect phonology
Lower Sorbian[53] glažk [ɡläʂk] 'glass'
Norwegian Sognamål[54] dag [däːɡ] 'day' See Norwegian phonology
Polish[55] kat About this sound [kät̪]  'executioner' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[56] vá [vä] 'go' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian[57] cal [käl] 'horse' See Romanian phonology
Sema[58] ala [à̠là̠] 'path' Also described as near-open [ɐ].[59]
Serbo-Croatian[60] патка / patka [pâ̠t̪ka̠] 'female duck' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Shiwiar[61] [example needed]
Slovak[62][63] a [ä] 'and' See Slovak phonology
Spanish[64] rata [ˈrät̪ä] 'rat' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[65][66] bank [bäŋk] 'bank' The backness has been variously described as central [ä],[65][66] near-front [][67] and front [a].[68] See Swedish phonology
Turkish[69] at [ät̪] 'horse' Also described as back [ɑ].[70] See Turkish phonology
Upper Sorbian[53][71] ale [ˈälɛ] 'but' See Upper Sorbian phonology
West Frisian[72] laad [ɫäːt] 'drawer' See West Frisian phonology
Yoruba[73] [example needed]

References[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. ^ Keating (2012), p. 245.
  4. ^ a b c Verhoeven (2007), p. 221.
  5. ^ Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  6. ^ a b Watkins (2001), pp. 292–293.
  7. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 54.
  8. ^ Lee & Zee (2003), pp. 110–111.
  9. ^ Zee (1999), pp. 59–60.
  10. ^ Zee (1999), p. 60.
  11. ^ Dankovičová (1999), p. 72.
  12. ^ Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012), p. 228.
  13. ^ Grønnum (1998), p. 100.
  14. ^ Basbøll (2005), p. 46.
  15. ^ Ladefoged & Johnson (2010), p. 227.
  16. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  17. ^ Verhoeven (2005), p. 245.
  18. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 104.
  19. ^ a b c d Collins & Mees (2003), p. 131.
  20. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007), p. 344.
  21. ^ a b Lass (2002), pp. 116–117.
  22. ^ a b c d Altendorf & Watt (2004), p. 188.
  23. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 168.
  24. ^ Lass (2002), p. 117.
  25. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006), p. ?.
  26. ^ Wells (1982), p. 476.
  27. ^ Hillenbrand (2003), p. 122.
  28. ^ Kerswill, Torgerson & Fox (2006), p. 30.
  29. ^ Boberg (2004), p. 361.
  30. ^ Esling & Warkentyne (1993), p. ?.
  31. ^ Boberg (2004), pp. 361–362.
  32. ^ Maddieson (1984), cited in Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  33. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008), p. 21.
  34. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  35. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2013), pp. 226–227.
  36. ^ Freixeiro Mato (2006), pp. 72–73.
  37. ^ Kohler (1999), p. 87.
  38. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 34.
  39. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 64.
  40. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), pp. 34, 37, 40.
  41. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 40.
  42. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 52.
  43. ^ Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015), p. 342.
  44. ^ Trudgill (2009), p. 81.
  45. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 25.
  46. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 89.
  47. ^ Laufer (1999), p. 98.
  48. ^ Szende (1994), p. 92.
  49. ^ Árnason (2011), p. 60.
  50. ^ Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  51. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 119.
  52. ^ Okada (1991), p. 94.
  53. ^ a b Stone (2002), p. 600.
  54. ^ Haugen (2004), p. 30.
  55. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  56. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  57. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  58. ^ Teo (2014), p. 28.
  59. ^ Teo (2012), p. 368.
  60. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 67.
  61. ^ Fast Mowitz (1975), p. 2.
  62. ^ Pavlík (2004), pp. 94–95.
  63. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010), p. 375.
  64. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 256.
  65. ^ a b Engstrand (1999), p. 140.
  66. ^ a b Riad (2014), p. 35.
  67. ^ Rosenqvist (2007), p. 9.
  68. ^ Bolander (2001), p. 55.
  69. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999), p. 155.
  70. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005), p. 10.
  71. ^ Šewc-Schuster (1984), p. 20.
  72. ^ de Haan (2010), p. 333.
  73. ^ Bamgboṣe (1969), p. 166.

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]