Near-open front unrounded vowel

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

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⟩.


  • 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/, in some dialects, before /k χ l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
Äiwoo ikuwä [ikuwæ] 'I go' Distinguished from both [a] and [ɑ~ɒ].
Arabic Standard[5] كتاب / kitāb [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
Bambam[6] bätä [ˈbætæ] 'stem'
Bashkir[7] йәй / yäy [jæj]  'summer'
Bengali[8] /ek [æk] 'one' See Bengali phonology
Catalan Majorcan[9] tesi [ˈt̪æzi] 'thesis' Main realization of /ɛ/. See Catalan phonology
Chechen аьрзу / ärzu [ærzu] 'eagle'
Danish Standard[2][10] dansk [ˈtænsk] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩ – the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[11] See Danish phonology
Dutch[12] 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.[13] See Dutch phonology
English Cultivated New Zealand[14] cat [kʰæt]  'cat' Higher in other New Zealand varieties. See New Zealand English phonology
General American[15] See English phonology
Conservative Received Pronunciation[16] Fully open [a] in contemporary RP.[16] See English phonology
Estonian[17] väle [ˈvæ̠le̞ˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[17] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[18] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Parisian[19] bain [bæ̃] 'bath' Nasalized; typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃⟩. See French phonology
Quebec[20] ver [væːʁ] 'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[20] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard Austrian[21] erlauben [æˈlɑɔ̯bn̩] 'allow' Variant of pretonic [ɛɐ̯].[21] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[22] oder [ˈoːdæ] 'or' Used instead of [ɐ].[22] See Standard German phonology
Northern accents[23] alles [ˈa̝ləs] 'everything' Lower and often also more back in other accents.[23] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[24] spät [ʃpæːt] 'late' Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[25] See Standard German phonology
Greek Macedonia[26] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[27] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hungarian[28] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Hungarian phonology
Kanoê[29] [æː] 'tobacco'
Kazakh әйел/äiel [æ̝ˈje̘l̪ʲ] 'woman' Varies between near-open and open-mid.
Kurdish Sorani (Central) گاڵته/ gältyä [gäːɫtʲæ] 'joke' Equal to Palewani (Southern) front [a]. See Kurdish phonology
Lakon[30] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Limburgish[31][32][33] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Front[32][33] or near-front,[31] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is near-front.
Lithuanian jachtą [ˈjæːxt̪aː] 'yacht' (accusative) See Lithuanian phonology
Luxembourgish[34] Käpp [kʰæpʰ] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[35][36] lær [læːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Persian[37][38] هشت/hašt [hæʃt] 'eight'
Portuguese Some dialects[39] pedra [ˈpædɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[40] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[41] piele [ˈpæle] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[41] See Romanian phonology
Russian[42][43] пять / pja [pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian Zeta-Raška dialect[44] дан/dan [d̪æn̪] 'day' Regional reflex of Proto-Slavic *ь and *ъ. Sometimes nasalised.[44]
Sinhala[45] ඇය/æya [æjə] 'she'
Swedish Central Standard[46][47][48] ära [²æːɾä]  'hono(u)r' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[48] läsa [²læːsä] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[49] 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 [].[49] See Turkish phonology

See also


  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. ^ Campbell (1991:5)
  7. ^ Berta (1998:183)
  8. ^ "Bengali romanization table" (PDF). Bahai Studies. Bahai Studies. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  9. ^ a b Rafel (1999:14)
  10. ^ Basbøll (2005:45)
  11. ^ Basbøll (2005:32)
  12. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:92, 129)
  13. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:92, 128–129, 131)
  14. ^ Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  15. ^ Wells (1982:486)
  16. ^ a b Cruttenden (2014:119–120)
  17. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  18. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  19. ^ Collins & Mees (2013:226)
  20. ^ a b Walker (1984:75)
  21. ^ a b Moosmüller, Schmid & Brandstätter (2015:342)
  22. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:40)
  23. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:64)
  24. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:65)
  25. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34, 64–65)
  26. ^ a b c Newton (1972:11)
  27. ^ Revithiadou & Spyropoulos (2009:41)
  28. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  29. ^ Bacelar (2004:60)
  30. ^ François (2005:466)
  31. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  32. ^ a b Peters (2006:119)
  33. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007:221)
  34. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  35. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  36. ^ Popperwell (2010:16, 21–22)
  37. ^ Majidi & Ternes (1991)
  38. ^ Campbell (1995)
  39. ^ Portuguese: A Linguistic Introduction – by Milton M. Azevedo Page 186.
  40. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (in Portuguese)
  41. ^ a b Pop (1938), p. 29.
  42. ^ Jones & Ward (1969:50)
  43. ^ Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224–225)
  44. ^ a b Okuka 2008, p. 171.
  45. ^ Perera & Jones (1919:5)
  46. ^ Eliasson (1986:273)
  47. ^ Thorén & Petterson (1992:15)
  48. ^ a b Riad (2014:38)
  49. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)


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  • Berta, Árpád (1998), "Tatar and Bashkir", in Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Á. (eds.), The Turkic languages, Routledge, pp. 283–300
  • Campbell, George L. (1995), "Persian", Concise compendium of the world's languages (1st publ. ed.), London: Routledge, p. 385, ISBN 0415160499
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External links

  • List of languages with [æ] on PHOIBLE
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