Open back rounded vowel

Open back rounded vowel
IPA number 313
Entity (decimal) ɒ
Unicode (hex) U+0252
Kirshenbaum A.
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠡ (braille pattern dots-16)
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The open back rounded vowel, or low back rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically, it is a near-open or near-low back rounded vowel.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɒ. It is called "turned script a", being a rotated version of "script (cursive) a", which is the variant of a that lacks the extra stroke on top of a "printed a". Turned script a ɒ has its linear stroke on the left, whereas "script a" ɑ (for its unrounded counterpart) has its linear stroke on the right.

A well-rounded [ɒ] is rare, but it is found in some varieties of English. In most languages with this vowel, such as English and Persian, the rounding of [ɒ] is slight, and in English at least, it is sulcal or "grooved". However, Assamese has an "over-rounded" [ɒ̹], with rounding as strong as that for [u].

According to the phonetician Geoff Lindsey, ɒ may be an entirely superfluous IPA symbol, as the sound it represents is far too similar to the open-mid back rounded vowel [ɔ], which makes it unlikely that any language would contrast these two vowels phonemically. He also writes that the contemporary Standard Southern British (SSB) accent lacks [ɒ], having replaced it with the more common [ɔ] (a realization that is also found in e.g. Australia,[2][3] New Zealand[4] and Scotland),[5][6] and advocates for transcribing this vowel with the symbol ɔ in SSB.[5]

This is not to be understood as /ɒ/ having the same quality as /ɔː/ (which Lindsey transcribes with ),[5] as the latter vowel is true-mid [ɔ̝ː] in SSB,[7] a pronunciation that was established decades ago.[8] Lindsey also says that more open variants of /ɒ/ used formerly in SSB are satisfyingly represented by the symbols [ɔ̞] and [ɑ] in narrow phonetic transcription, and ɔ in phonemic/broad phonetic transcription. According to him, the endless repetition of the symbol ɒ in publications on BrE has given this vowel a familiarity out of all proportion to its scarcity in the world’s languages.[5]

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


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
i  y
ɨ  ʉ
ɯ  u
ɪ  ʏ
ɪ̈  ʊ̈
ɯ̽  ʊ
e  ø
ɘ  ɵ
ɤ  o
ə  ɵ̞
ɛ  œ
ɜ  ɞ
ʌ  ɔ
ɐ  ɞ̞
a  ɶ
ä  ɒ̈
ɑ  ɒ
Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded
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IPA help  IPA key  chart   chart with audio  view


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Former Transvaal Province[9] daar [dɒːr] 'there' Higher [ɔː] for a very small number of speakers. It is unrounded [ɑː] in standard Afrikaans.[10] See Afrikaans phonology
Assamese ? [pɒ̹t] 'to bury'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic χwara [χwɒːra] 'white' May be realised as [ɑ] in some speakers. Corresponds to [ɔ] in the Urmian dialect.
Catalan Majorcan[11][12] soc [ˈsɒk] 'clog' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɔ. See Catalan phonology
Some Valencian speakers[13] taula [ˈt̪ɑ̟wɫɒ̝] 'table' Can be realized as unrounded [ɑ].
Danish Standard[14][15] ånd [ɒ̜̽nˀ] 'spirit' Weakly rounded near-open near-back vowel.[14][15] Most often transcribed in IPA with ʌ. The vowel transcribed in IPA with ɒ has been described variously as near-open [ɒ̝][15] and open-mid [ɔ].[14] See Danish phonology
Dutch Belgian maar [mɒːr] 'but' Some dialects. Corresponds to [äː] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Leiden[16] bad [bɒ̝t] 'bath' Near-open fully back; may be unrounded [ɑ̝] instead.[16] It corresponds to [ɑ] in standard Dutch.
Some dialects[17] bot [bɒt] 'bone' Some non-Randstad dialects,[17] for example those of Den Bosch and Groningen. It is open-mid [ɔ] in standard Dutch.
Dutch Low Saxon Gronings op [ɒp] 'up' Pronounced [ɔ~o] in other dialects.
Some dialects taol [tɒːɫ] 'language' Higher [ɔː] in other dialects.
English Received Pronunciation[18] not [nɒt] 'not' Somewhat raised. Younger RP speakers may pronounce a closer vowel [ɔ]. See English phonology
Northern English[19][20][21] May be somewhat raised and fronted.[19]
South African[22] [nɒ̜̈t] Near-back;[22] weakly rounded.[22] Some younger speakers of the General variety may actually have a higher and fully unrounded vowel [ʌ̈].[22]
General American[23] thought  [θɒt]  'thought' Present in accents without the cotcaught merger. May be as high as [ɔː].
Inland Northern American[24] See Northern cities vowel shift
Western Canadian
Indian[25] /ɒ/ and /ɔː/ differ entirely by length in Indian English.
Welsh[26][27] Open-mid in Cardiff; may merge with // in northern dialects.
French Quebec lézard  [lezɒːʁ]  'lizard' Allophone of /ɑ/. See Quebec French phonology
German Northern Bernese grad [ˈɡ̊rɒd̥] 'just now' May be as high as [ɔ]. See Bernese German phonology
Zurich dialect[28] mane [ˈmɒːnə] 'remind' Allophone of /ɒ/, in free variation with [ɑ].[28]
Hungarian Standard[29] magyar [ˈmɒ̜̽ɟɒ̜̽r] 'Hungarian' Somewhat fronted and raised, with only slight rounding; sometimes transcribed in IPA with ɔ. Unrounded [ɑ] in some dialects.[30] See Hungarian phonology
Ibibio[31] [dɒ̝́] 'marry' Near-open; typically transcribed in IPA with ɔ.[31]
Irish Ulster[32] ólann [ɒ̝ːɫ̪ən̪ˠ] '(he) drinks' Near-open;[32] may be transcribed in IPA with ɔː.[33]
Korean Jeju 서울/Seoul [sʰɒ.ul] 'Seoul' See Korean phonology
Lehalidö[ⁿdɒ̝ŋ]'yam'Raised vowel, being the back rounded counterpart of /æ/ in a symmetrical vowel inventory.[34]
Lemerigān̄sār[ʔɒ̝ŋsɒ̝r]'person'Raised vowel, being the back rounded counterpart of /æ/ in a symmetrical vowel inventory.[35]
Limburgish Maastrichtian[36] plaots [plɒ̝ːts] 'place' Near-open fully back; typically transcribed in IPA with ɔː.[36] Corresponds to [ɔː] in other dialects.
Norwegian Dialects along the Swedish border[37] hat [hɒ̜ːt] 'hate' Weakly rounded and fully back.[37] See Norwegian phonology
Standard Eastern[38] topp [t̻ʰɒ̽pː] 'top' Mid-centralized,[38] typically transcribed in IPA with ɔ. Also described as [ɔ̟] and [ɔ]. See Norwegian phonology
Limousin Some northern dialects
Persian آب [ɒːb] 'water' See Persian phonology
Romanian Istro-Romanian[39] cap [kɒp] 'head' Corresponds to [ä] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Slovak Some speakers[40] a [ɒ] 'and' Under Hungarian influence, some speakers realize the short /a/ as rounded.[40] See Slovak phonology
Swedish Central Standard[41][42] jаg [jɒ̝ːɡ] 'I' Near-open fully back weakly rounded vowel.[41] Typically transcribed in IPA with ɑː. See Swedish phonology
Gothenburg[42] [jɒːɡ] More rounded than in Central Standard Swedish.[42]
Western DesertMartu Wangkawaŋka[wɒŋɡɑ]'talk'
Yoruba[44] Most often transcribed in IPA with ɔ.

See also


  1. Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. Cox (2012:159)
  3. Horvath (2004:628)
  4. Hay, Maclagan & Gordon (2008:21). Note that some sources (e.g. Bauer et al. (2007:98)) describe it as more central [ɞ] than back.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Geoff Lindsey (2012) Morgen — a suitable case for treatment, Speech Talk
  6. Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006:7)
  7. Gimson (2014:128–129)
  8. Wells (1982a:293). According to this source, open-mid [ɔː] was the standard pronunciation in the 1930s.
  9. Donaldson (1993), p. 6.
  10. Donaldson (1993), pp. 6–7.
  11. 1 2 3 Recasens (1996:81 and 130–131)
  12. 1 2 3 Rafel (1999:14)
  13. Saborit (2009:25–26)
  14. 1 2 3 Grønnum (1998:100)
  15. 1 2 3 Basbøll (2005:47)
  16. 1 2 3 Collins & Mees (2003:131)
  17. 1 2 Collins & Mees (2003:132)
  18. Roach (2004:242)
  19. 1 2 Lodge (2009:163)
  20. Watson (2007:357)
  21. Watt & Allen (2003:268)
  22. 1 2 3 4 Lass (2002:115)
  23. Wells (1982b:476)
  24. W. Labov, S. Ash and C. Boberg (1997), A national map of the regional dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved May 27, 2013
  25. Sailaja (2009:24–25)
  26. Connolly (1990:125)
  27. Tench (1990:135)
  28. 1 2 Fleischer & Schmid (2006), p. 248.
  29. Szende (1994:92)
  30. Vago (1980:1)
  31. 1 2 Urua (2004:106)
  32. 1 2 Ní Chasaide (1999:114)
  33. Ní Chasaide (1999)
  34. François (2011):194.
  35. François (2011):195, 208.
  36. 1 2 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:158–159)
  37. 1 2 Popperwell (2010:23)
  38. 1 2 Vanvik (1979:13)
  39. Pop (1938), p. 29.
  40. 1 2 Kráľ (1988:54)
  41. 1 2 Engstrand (1999:140–141)
  42. 1 2 3 Riad (2014:35–36)
  43. "Vastesi Language - Vastesi in the World". Vastesi in the World. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  44. Bamgboṣe (1969:166)


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