Near-open front unrounded vowel

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. 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.

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

In IPA transcriptions of Hungarian and Valencian, this vowel is typically written with ⟨ɛ⟩. In the case of Danish, ⟨a⟩ is often used for the near-open vowel as ⟨æ⟩ is used for the open-mid front unrounded vowel.


  • 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 forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • 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
Bashkir[6] йәй / yäy About this sound[jæj]  'summer'
Catalan Majorcan[7] tesi [ˈt̪æzi] 'thesis' Main realization of /ɛ/. See Catalan phonology
Danish Standard[2][8] dansk [ˈd̥a̝nsɡ̊] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩ – the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[9] See Danish phonology
Dutch[10] 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.[11] See Dutch phonology
English Cultivated New Zealand[12] cat About this sound[kʰæt]  'cat' Higher in other New Zealand varieties. See New Zealand English phonology
General American[13] See English phonology
Conservative Received Pronunciation[14] Fully open [a] in contemporary RP.[14] See English phonology
Estonian[15] väle [ˈvæ̠le̞ˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[15] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[16] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Parisian[17] bain [bæ̃] 'bath' Nasalized; typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃⟩. See French phonology
Quebec[18] ver [væːʁ] 'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[18] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard Austrian[19] oder [ˈoːdæ] 'or' Used by some speakers instead of [ɐ].[19] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[20] Used instead of [ɐ].[20] See Standard German phonology
Northern accents[21] alles [ˈa̝ləs] 'everything' Lower and often also more back in other accents.[21] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[22] spät [ʃpæːt] 'late' Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[23] See Standard German phonology
Greek Macedonia[24] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[25] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hungarian[26] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Hungarian phonology
Kurdish Sorani (Central) گاڵته [gäːɫtʲæ] 'joke' Equal to Palewani (Southern) front [a]. See Kurdish phonology
Lakon[27] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Limburgish[28][29][30] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Front[29][30] or near-front,[28] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is near-front.
Luxembourgish[31] Käpp [kʰæpʰ] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[32][33] lær [læːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Persian[34][35] هشت [hæʃt] 'eight'
Portuguese Some dialects[36] pedra [ˈpædɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[37] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[38] piele [ˈpæle] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[38] See Romanian phonology
Russian[39][40] пять About this sound[pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian Zeta-Raška dialect[41] дан/dan [d̪æn̪] 'day' Regional reflex of Proto-Slavic *ь and *ъ. Sometimes nasalised.[41]
Sinhala[42] ඇය [æjə] 'she'
Slovak Some speakers[43] väzy [ˈʋæzi̞] 'ligaments' Many speakers pronounce it the same as [ɛ̝]. See Slovak phonology
Swedish Central Standard[44][45][46] ära About this sound[²æːɾä]  'hono(u)r' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[46] läsa [²læːsä] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[47] 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 [].[47] 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. ^ a b Grønnum (1998:100)
  3. ^ Basbøll (2005:46)
  4. ^ Donaldson (1993:3)
  5. ^ Holes (2004:60)
  6. ^ Berta (1998:183)
  7. ^ a b Rafel (1999:14)
  8. ^ Basbøll (2005:45)
  9. ^ Basbøll (2005:32)
  10. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:92, 129)
  11. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:92, 128–129, 131)
  12. ^ Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  13. ^ Wells (1982:486)
  14. ^ a b Gimson (2014:119–120)
  15. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  16. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  17. ^ Collins & Mees (2013:226)
  18. ^ a b Walker (1984:75)
  19. ^ a b Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015:342)
  20. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:40)
  21. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:64)
  22. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:65)
  23. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34, 64–65)
  24. ^ a b c Newton (1972:11)
  25. ^ Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  26. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  27. ^ François (2005:466)
  28. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  29. ^ a b Peters (2006:119)
  30. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007:221)
  31. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  32. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  33. ^ Popperwell (2010:16, 21–22)
  34. ^ Majidi & Ternes (1991)
  35. ^ Campbell (1995)
  36. ^ Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  37. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (in Portuguese)
  38. ^ a b Pop (1938), p. 29.
  39. ^ Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  40. ^ Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  41. ^ a b Okuka 2008, p. 171.
  42. ^ Perera & Jones (1919:5)
  43. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  44. ^ Eliasson (1986:273)
  45. ^ Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  46. ^ a b Riad (2014:38)
  47. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)


External links[edit]