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Mid front unrounded vowel

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Title: Mid front unrounded vowel  
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Subject: Hejazi Arabic, Hebrew diacritics, Hebrew alphabet, Near-close central unrounded vowel, Near-close near-back vowel
Collection: Vowels
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mid front unrounded vowel

The mid front unrounded vowel is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. While there is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the exact mid front unrounded vowel between close-mid [e] and open-mid [ɛ], it is normally written e. If precision is required, diacritics may be used, such as or ɛ̝ (the former, indicating lowering, being more common). In Sinology and Koreanology , (small capital E, U+1D07,
) is used sometimes.

For many languages that have only one phonemic front unrounded vowel in the mid-vowel area (i.e. neither close nor open), this vowel is pronounced as a true mid vowel, phonetically distinct from either a close-mid or open-mid vowel. Examples are Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Greek and Turkish. A number of dialects of English also have such a mid front vowel. However, there is no general predisposition for this. Igbo, for example, has a close-mid [e], whereas Bulgarian has an open-mid [ɛ], even though neither language has another phonemic mid front vowel.

The Kensiu language spoken in Malaysia and Thailand is claimed to be unique in having true-mid vowels that are phonemically distinct from both close-mid and open-mid vowels without differences in other parameters such as backness or roundedness.[1]


  • Features 1
  • Occurrence 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Hejazi[2] ليش [le̞ːʃ] 'why' Typically transcribed /eː/.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic h [he̞ː] 'yes' Usually shifted to [e] and [ɪ] in the Urmia and Jilu dialects.
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3]
Catalan Alguerese sec [se̞k] 'dry' /ɛ/ and /e/ merge into [e̞] in these dialects. See Catalan phonology
Danish[4] Conservative[5] hæl [ˈhe̞ːˀl] 'heel' Described variously as close-mid [e][6][7][8][9][10] and open-mid [ɛ][11] in contemporary Standard Danish. Most often, it is transcribed [ɛ(ː)]. See Danish phonology
Dutch Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect[12] wel [β̞e̞l] 'well' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. See Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect phonology
English Cardiff[13] square [skwe̞ː] 'square' Corresponds to /ɛə/ in RP.
Received Pronunciation[14] let [le̞t] 'let' Corresponds to [ɛ] in other dialects. See English phonology
Inland Northern American[15] bit [bë̞t̚] 'bit' Near-front,[15][16] may be [ɪ] (also [ə] in Scotland) instead for other speakers. See Northern Cities vowel shift
Scottish[16] [bë̞ʔ]
Yorkshire[17] play [ple̞ː] 'play'
Estonian[18] keha [ˈke̞ɦɑ̝ˑ] 'body' See Estonian phonology
Finnish[19][20] menen [ˈme̞ne̞n] 'I go' See Finnish phonology
German Standard[21] Bett     'bed' Near-front;[21] also described as open-mid front [ɛ].[22] See Standard German phonology
Greek φαινόμενο/fainómeno [fe̞ˈno̞me̞no̞] 'phenomenon' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew[23] כן [ke̞n] 'yes' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[24] hét [he̞ːt̪] 'seven' See Hungarian phonology
Japanese[25] 笑み     'smile' See Japanese phonology
Korean[26] 베개 [pe̞ˈɡɛ] 'pillow' See Korean phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[27] bed [be̞t] 'bed' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ.
Weert dialect[28] [ˈze̞ɡə] 'to say'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[29] [n̻e̞t̻ː] 'net' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese Brazilian [ẽ̞ne̞ɦˈʑi.ɐ] 'energy' Unstressed vowel.[30] See Portuguese phonology
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[31] birk [be̞ʁk] Allophone of /e/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[31]
Romanian [ˈfe̞t̪e̞] 'girls' See Romanian phonology
Russian[32] [t͡ɕɪlɐˈvʲe̞k] 'human' Occurs only after soft consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[33] /     'question' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak Standard[34][35][36] [ˈbe̞ɦäc̟] 'to run' See Slovak phonology
Slovene[37] [ʋe̞liˈká̠ːn] 'giant' Unstressed vowel,[37] as well as an allophone of /e/ before /j/ when a vowel does not follow within the same word.[38] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[39] [be̞ˈβ̞e̞] 'baby' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[40] [he̞l̪] 'flat rock' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ. Many dialects pronounce short /e/ and /ɛ/ the same. See Swedish phonology
Tagalog daliri [dɐˈliɾe̞] 'finger' See Tagalog phonology
Turkish[41] [e̞v] 'house' See Turkish phonology
Upper Sorbian[42] [ˈɲ̟e̞bʲɔ] 'sky' Allophone of /ɛ/ between soft consonants and after a soft consonant, excluding /j/ in both cases.[42] See Upper Sorbian phonology
West Frisian[43] [e̞k] 'I' Typically transcribed in IPA as ɪ. See West Frisian phonology
Yoruba[44] Typically transcribed in IPA as ɛ̃. It is nasalized, and may be open-mid [ɛ̃] instead.[44]


  1. ^ Bishop, N. (1996). A preliminary description of Kensiw (Maniq) phonology. Mon–Khmer Studies Journal, 25.
  2. ^ Jarrah, Mohamed Ali Saleh (1993)
  3. ^ Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. ^ Uldall (1933), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:289)
  5. ^ Ladefoged & Johnson (2010:227)
  6. ^ Grønnum (1998:100)
  7. ^ Grønnum (2005:268)
  8. ^ Grønnum (2003)
  9. ^ Basbøll (2005:45)
  10. ^
  11. ^ Allan, Holmes & Lundskær-Nielsen (2000:17)
  12. ^ Peters (2010:241)
  13. ^ Coupland (1990:95)
  14. ^ Roach (2004:242)
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ a b Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006:7)
  17. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999:179)
  18. ^ Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  19. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005:60, 66)
  20. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  21. ^ a b Kohler (1999:87)
  22. ^ Mangold (2005:37)
  23. ^ Laufer (1999:98)
  24. ^ Szende (1994:92)
  25. ^ Okada (1991:94)
  26. ^ Lee (1999:121)
  27. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  28. ^ Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998:107)
  29. ^ Vanvik (1979:13)
  30. ^ Corresponds to /ɛ/, or /ɨ/ and /i/ (where Brazilian dialects have [i ~ ɪ ~ e̞]), in other national variants. May be lowered to [ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] in amazofonia, nordestino, mineiro (MG) and fluminense (RJ) if not nasalized ([ẽ̞] does not corresponds to phoneme //), or be raised and merged to /e/ in sulista, paulistano, caipira and sertanejo.
  31. ^ a b Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  32. ^ Jones & Ward (1969:41)
  33. ^ Landau et al. (1999:67)
  34. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:375)
  35. ^ Kráľ (1988:92)
  36. ^ Pavlík (2004:93, 95)
  37. ^ a b
  38. ^ Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:138)
  39. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:256)
  40. ^ Engstrand (1999:140)
  41. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999:155)
  42. ^ a b Šewc-Schuster (1984), p. 34.
  43. ^ Sipma (1913:10)
  44. ^ a b Bamgboṣe (1969:166)


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