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Open back rounded vowel

Open back rounded vowel
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IPA number 313
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Kirshenbaum A.
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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. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɒ. This is called turned script a, because it is a rotated version of script a, so-called because it lacks the extra stroke on top of a printed 'a'. Turned script a, which has its linear stroke on the left, should not be confused with script a ɑ, which has its linear stroke on the right and corresponds to an unrounded version of this vowel, the open back unrounded vowel. A well rounded [ɒ] is rare, though 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].

The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. 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
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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  • 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 back, which means the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Note that unrounded back vowels tend to be centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-back.
  • It's rounded, which means that the lips are rounded rather than spread or relaxed.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Northern Transvaal daar [dɒːr] 'there'
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[1][2] soc [sɒk] 'clog' Typically transcribed as /ɔ/. See Catalan phonology
Danish Standard[3] og [ɒ̽ʊ̯] 'and' Fronted and somewhat raised,[3] also described as [ɔ].[4][5][6][7] See Danish phonology
Dutch Belgian maar [mɒːr] 'but' Some dialects. Corresponds to [äː] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Leiden[8] bad [bɒ̝t] 'bath' Raised;[8] may be unrounded [ɑ̝] instead.[8] It corresponds to [ɑ] in standard Dutch.
Some dialects[9] bot [bɒt] 'bone' Present in some non-Randstad dialects,[9] for example those of Den Bosch and Groningen. It corresponds to [ɔ] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Dutch Low Saxon Gronings op [ɒp] 'up', 'onto' Pronounced [ɔ~o] in other dialects.
Some dialects taol [tɒːɫ] 'language' Higher [ɔː] in other dialects.
English Boston not [nɒːt] 'not' It is one of the very few North American accents that have the cot–caught merger, but not the father–bother merger.
Cultivated Australian [nɒ̝t] Somewhat raised. Most other speakers use a closer vowel [ɔ] instead.
Cultivated New Zealand
Received Pronunciation[10] Somewhat raised. Younger RP speakers may pronounce a closer vowel [ɔ]. See English phonology
Northern English[11][12][13] [nɒt] May be somewhat raised and fronted.[11]
Western Canadian
South African[14] [nɒ̜̈t] Near-back;[14] weakly rounded.[14] Some younger speakers of the General variety may actually have a higher and fully unrounded vowel [ʌ̈].[14]
General American[15] thought About this sound [θɒt]  'thought' Present in accents without the cot–caught merger. May be as high as [ɔː].
Inland Northern American[16] See Northern cities vowel shift
Western Canadian
Indian[17] /ɒ/ and /ɔː/ differ entirely by length in Indian English.
Mainstream Dublin May be unrounded [ɑː]. It is front unrounded [] in Local Dublin, and higher [] in New Dublin.
Welsh[18] Open-mid in Cardiff; may merge with // in northern dialects.
French Quebec lézard About this sound [lezɒːʁ]  'lizard' Allophone of /ɑ/. See Quebec French phonology
Hungarian[19] magyar [ˈmɒ̜̽ɟɒ̜̽r] 'Hungarian' Somewhat fronted and raised, with only slight rounding; sometimes transcribed as /ɔ/. See Hungarian phonology
Irish Ulster[20] ólann [ɒ̝ːɫ̪ən̪ˠ] '(he) drinks' Raised;[20] may be transcribed /ɔː/.[21]
Istro-Romanian[22] cap [kɒp] 'head' Corresponds to [ä][in which environments?] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Kol öle [ɒle] 'name'
Korean certain dialects 서울 Seoul [sʰɒ.ul] 'Seoul'
Lehali dö [ⁿdɒ̝ŋ] 'yam' Raised vowel, being the back rounded counterpart of /æ/ in a symmetrical vowel inventory.[23]
Lemerig ān̄sār [ʔɒ̝ŋsɒ̝r] 'person' Raised vowel, being the back rounded counterpart of /æ/ in a symmetrical vowel inventory.[24]
Norwegian Standard Eastern[25] topp [t̪ʰɒ̝̈pː] 'top' Raised and somewhat fronted, typically transcribed as /ɔ/. See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Auvergnat país [pɒˈji] 'country'
Limousin Some northern dialects
Persian آب [ɒːb] 'water' See Persian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[26][27] jаg [jɒ̝ːɡ] 'I' Weakly rounded, fully back and raised.[26] Typically transcribed as /ɑː/. See Swedish phonology
Gothenburg[27] [jɒːɡ] More rounded than in Central Standard Swedish.[27]
Uzbek dono [dɒnɒ] 'wise'
Waris ov [ɒβ] 'sky'
Western Desert Martu Wangka waŋka [wɒŋɡɑ] 'talk'
West Frisian Schiermonnikoogs
[citation needed]
hanne [ˈhɒnə] 'to'

See also


  1. ^ a b c Recasens (1996:81 and 130–131)
  2. ^ a b c Rafel (1999:14)
  3. ^ a b Allan, Holmes & Lundskær-Nielsen (2000:17)
  4. ^ Grønnum (1998:100)
  5. ^ Grønnum (2005:268)
  6. ^ Grønnum (2003)
  7. ^ Basbøll (2005:47)
  8. ^ a b c d Collins & Mees (2003:131)
  9. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003:131)
  10. ^ Roach (2004:242)
  11. ^ a b Lodge (2009:163)
  12. ^ Watson (2007:357)
  13. ^ Watt & Allen (2003:268)
  14. ^ a b c d Lass (2002:115)
  15. ^ Wells (1982:476)
  16. ^ 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 
  17. ^ Sailaja (2009:24–25)
  18. ^ Coupland (1990:135)
  19. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  20. ^ a b Ní Chasaide (1999:114)
  21. ^ Ní Chasaide (1999)
  22. ^ Pop (1938), p. 29.
  23. ^ François (2011:194).
  24. ^ François (2011:195, 208).
  25. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  26. ^ a b Engstrand (1999:140–141)
  27. ^ a b c Riad (2014:35–36)