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The near-open central vowel, or near-low central 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 ⟨ɐ⟩, a rotated lowercase letter a.

Near-open central vowel
IPA Number324
Entity (decimal)ɐ
Unicode (hex)U+0250
Braille⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)
Audio sample

In English this vowel is most typically transcribed with the symbol ⟨ʌ⟩, i.e. as if it were open-mid back. That pronunciation is still found in some dialects, but most speakers use a central vowel like [ɐ].

Much like ⟨ə⟩, ⟨ɐ⟩ is a versatile symbol that is not defined for roundedness[2] and that can be used for vowels that are near-open central,[3] near-open near-front,[4] near-open near-back,[5] open-mid central,[6] open central[7] or a (often unstressed) vowel with variable height and backness that is produced in that general area.[8] In this article only the first three and the last variant are discussed, for the rest see open-mid central unrounded vowel, open-mid central rounded vowel and open central unrounded vowel.

When the usual transcription of the near-open near-front and the near-open near-back variants is different than ⟨ɐ⟩, they are listed in near-open front unrounded vowel and open back unrounded vowel or open back rounded vowel, respectively.

The near-open central unrounded vowel is sometimes the only open vowel in a language.[9] When that is the case, it is typically transcribed with ⟨a⟩.



  • 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 central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel.
  • It is undefined for roundedness, which means that it can be either rounded or unrounded. In practice however, the unrounded variant is more common.


In the following list, ⟨ɐ⟩ is assumed to be unrounded. The rounded variant is transcribed as ⟨ɐ̹⟩. Some instances of the latter may actually be fully open.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bengali[10] পা / pa [pɐ] 'leg' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Bengali phonology
Burmese[11] တ် [mɐʔ] 'vertical' Allophone of /a/ in syllables closed by a glottal stop and when nasalized; realized as fully open [ä] in open oral syllables.[12]
Chinese Shanghainese[13] [kɐʔ˦] 'to cut' Appears only in closed syllables; the exact height and backness is somewhat variable.[13]
Danish[14] fatter [ˈfa̝d̥ɐ] 'understands' Varies between near-open central unrounded [ɐ], near-open near-back rounded [ɐ̹˗] and mid near-back unrounded [ə̠].[14] See Danish phonology
English California[15] nut [nɐt] 'nut' See English phonology
Cockney[16][17] [nɐ̟ʔ] Near-front.[16]
East Anglian[18] [nɐʔ] Used in some places (e.g. Colchester) instead of the traditional [ʌ].[18]
New Zealand[19] [nɐʔt] Varies between near-open near-front [ɐ̟], near-open central [ɐ], open near-front [] and open central [ɐ̞].[19] See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[3] See English phonology
Inland Northern American[20] bet [bɐt] 'bet' Variation of /ɛ/ used in some places whose accents have undergone the Northern cities vowel shift.
Middle Class London[21] lot [lɐ̹ʔt] 'lot' Rounded; can be back [ɒ] instead.[21] See English phonology
German Standard[8] oder  [ˈoːdɐ]  'or' The exact height, backness and roundedness is somewhere between [ä] and [ɔ], depending on the environment. Sometimes, an opening diphthong of the [əɐ̯]-type is used instead.[8] See Standard German phonology
Northern German accents[22] kommen [ˈkʰɐmən] 'to come' Local realization of /ɔ/; can be back [ɑ] instead.[22] See Standard German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[9] ακακία / akaa [ɐkɐˈc̠i.ɐ] 'acacia' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Modern Greek phonology
Hausa[23] [example needed] Possible allophone of /a/, which can be as close as [ə] and as open as [ä].[23]
Hindustani[24] दस/دَس [ˈd̪ɐs] 'ten' Common realization of /ə/.[24] See Hindustani phonology
Korean[25] 하나 / hana [hɐnɐ] 'one' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Korean phonology
Kumzari[4] [orthographic form?] [ɡɐ̟p] 'large' Near-front.[4]
Luxembourgish[5] Kanner [ˈkʰɑnɐ̠] 'children' Near-back.[26] See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Østfold dialect[27] bada [ˈbɐ̹̂ːdɐ] 'to bathe' The example word illustrates both the rounded [ɐ̹] and the unrounded [ɐ].
Portuguese[28][29] aja [ˈäʒɐ] 'act' (subj.) Closer [ɐ̝] in European Portuguese than in Brazilian Portuguese ([ɐ]).[28][29] See Portuguese phonology
Romanian Moldavian dialects[30] bărbat [bɐrˈbat] 'man' Corresponds to [ə] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian Standard Moscow[31] голова  [ɡəɫ̪ɐˈvä]  'head' Corresponds to [ʌ] in standard Saint Petersburg pronunciation;[31] occurs mostly immediately before stressed syllables. See Russian phonology
Sabiny[32] [example needed] Contrasts overshort unrounded and overshort rounded near-open central vowels.[33]
Ukrainian[34] слива [ˈslɪwɐ] 'plum' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[35] chếch [cɐ̆jk̚] 'askance' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə̆⟩. See Vietnamese phonology

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 166.
  3. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 186.
  4. ^ a b c Anonby (2011), p. 378.
  5. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 68, 70.
  6. ^ Ternes & Vladimirova-Buhtz (1999), p. 56.
  7. ^ Cox & Fletcher (2017), pp. 64–65.
  8. ^ a b c Krech et al. (2009), p. 86.
  9. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007), p. 25.
  10. ^ Khan (2010), p. 222.
  11. ^ Watkins (2001), p. 293.
  12. ^ Watkins (2001), pp. 292–293.
  13. ^ a b Chen & Gussenhoven (2015), p. 328.
  14. ^ a b Basbøll (2005), p. 58.
  15. ^ Ladefoged (1999), p. 42.
  16. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 305.
  17. ^ Hughes & Trudgill (1979), p. 35.
  18. ^ a b Trudgill (2004), p. 167.
  19. ^ a b Bauer et al., p. 98.
  20. ^ Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (1997), A National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved March 15, 2013
  21. ^ a b Altendorf & Watt (2004:188). The authors differentiate between symbols [ɒ̟] and [ɒ̈]; the former denotes a more back vowel.
  22. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 64.
  23. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), pp. 90–91.
  24. ^ a b Ohala (1999), p. 102.
  25. ^ Lee (1999), p. 121.
  26. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 70.
  27. ^ Jahr (1990:92)
  28. ^ a b Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  29. ^ a b Barbosa & Albano (2004), p. 229.
  30. ^ Pop (1938), p. 29.
  31. ^ a b Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015), p. 225.
  32. ^ "UPSID 4)S". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  33. ^ "UPSID SEBEI". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  34. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  35. ^ Hoang (1965), p. 24.


External linksEdit