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Open-mid central unrounded vowel

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Title: Open-mid central unrounded vowel  
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Subject: Open-mid back unrounded vowel, Mid central vowel, Table of vowels, International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects, Ë
Collection: Vowels
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Open-mid central unrounded vowel

Open-mid central unrounded vowel
IPA number 326
Entity (decimal) ɜ
Unicode (hex) U+025C
Kirshenbaum V"
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠜ (braille pattern dots-345)

The open-mid central unrounded vowel, or low-mid central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɜ. Note that the IPA symbol is not the digit 3 nor Cyrillic small letter Ze (which is arose from the Greek letter zeta, Ζ ζ), but a reversed Latinized variant of the lowercase epsilon, ɛ. The value of this letter was only specified in 1993; before that, it was transcribed ɛ̈.

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".


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


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

 •  • chart •  chart with audio •


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Received Pronunciation[1] bird [bɜːd] 'bird' Sulcalized (the tongue is grooved like in [ɹ]). 'Upper Crust RP' speakers pronounce a more open vowel [ɐː], but for most other speakers it's actually mid ([ɜ̝ː]). This vowel corresponds to rhotacized [ɝ] in rhotic dialects.
Norfolk[2] bet [bɜ̟ʔ] 'bet' Somewhat fronted,[2] corresponds to /ɛ/ in other dialects.
Great Lakes region [bɜ̟ˀt] Corresponds to /ɛ/ in other dialects, may be near-open central [ɐ] instead. See Northern Cities Vowel Shift
Ohio[3] bust [bɜst] 'bust' The most common realization of the vowel transcribed as ʌ in American English. Nevertheless, it is not a standard pronunciation throughout the whole country.[1][3]
Most of Texas[3]
Northern Welsh[4] Some speakers.[4] Corresponds to [ə] (or a further back vowel) in other Welsh dialects.[5]
Scottish[6] [bɜ̠st] Somewhat retracted; may be more back [ʌ] instead.
German Chemnitz dialect[7] passe [ˈpɜsə] 'I pass' Typically transcribed in IPA as ʌ. See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Kaingang[8] [ˈɾɜ] 'mark' Varies between central [ɜ] and back [ʌ].[9]
Ladin Some dialects Urtijëi     'Urtijëi'
Northern Tiwa Taos dialect [ʔɜ̃̄mˈpʊ̄i̯ˌwæ̀ˑʔɪ̄nã̄] 'his friends' Allophone of /æ/ and /ɑ/. See Taos phonology
Paicî [mbʷɜ̄] 'remainder'
Romanian Standard[10] măr [mɜ̠r] 'apple' Somewhat retracted;[10] also described as mid [ə]. See Romanian phonology
Transylvanian dialects[11] a [aˈʂɜ] 'such' Corresponds to [ä] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Vietnamese Southern bên [ˀɓɜːn˧˥] 'side' Allophone of /e/ before /t, n/. See Vietnamese phonology
Yiddish Standard[12] ענלעך [ˈɛnlɜχ] 'similar' Unstressed vowel.[12] See Yiddish phonology


  1. ^ a b Ladefoged (1993:82)
  2. ^ a b Lodge (2009:168)
  3. ^ a b c Thomas (2001:27–28)
  4. ^ a b Tench, Paul (1990). "The Pronunciation of English in Abercrave". In Coupland, Nikolas. English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change. Multilingual Matters.  
  5. ^ Wells (1982:380–381)
  6. ^ Lodge (2009:167)
  7. ^ Khan & Weise (2013:236)
  8. ^ Jolkesky (2009:676–677 and 682)
  9. ^ Jolkesky (2009:676 and 682)
  10. ^ a b Sarlin (2014:18)
  11. ^ Pop (1938:30)
  12. ^ a b Kleine (2003:263)


  • Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2009), "Fonologia e prosódia do Kaingáng falado em Cacique Doble", Anais do SETA (Campinas: Editora do IEL-UNICAMP) 3: 675–685 
  • Khan, Sameer ud Dowla; Weise, Constanze (2013), "Upper Saxon (Chemnitz dialect)" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43 (2): 231–241,  
  • Kleine, Ane (2003), "Standard Yiddish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 261–265,  
  • Lodge, Ken (2009), A Critical Introduction to Phonetics,  
  • Pop, Sever (1938), Micul Atlas Linguistic Român, Muzeul Limbii Române Cluj 
  • Roach, Peter (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 239–245,  
  • Sarlin, Mika (2014), Romanian Grammar, Helsinki: Books on Demand GmbH,  
  • Thomas, Erik R. (2001), An acoustic analysis of vowel variation in New World English, Publication of the American Dialect Society 85, Duke University Press for the American Dialect Society,  
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