Open-mid back rounded vowel

Open-mid back rounded vowel
IPA Number306
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɔ
Unicode (hex)U+0254
Braille⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)

The open-mid back rounded vowel, or low-mid back rounded 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 ⟨ɔ⟩. The IPA symbol is a turned letter c and both the symbol and the sound are commonly called "open-o". The name open-o represents the sound, in that it is like the sound represented by ⟨o⟩, the close-mid back rounded vowel, except it is more open. It also represents the symbol, which can be remembered as an o which has been "opened" by removing part of the closed circular shape.

In English, the symbol ⟨ɔ⟩ (or ⟨ɔː⟩) is typically associated with the vowel in "thought", but in Received Pronunciation (standard British English), Australian English, New Zealand English and South African English that vowel is produced with considerably stronger lip rounding and higher tongue position than that of cardinal [ɔ], i.e. as close-mid [] or somewhat lower. Open-mid [ɔː] or even open [ɒː] realizations are found in North American English (where this vowel is often indistinguishable from the open back unrounded vowel in "bra") and Scottish English as well as Hiberno-English, Northern England English and Welsh English, though in the last three accent groups closer, []-like realizations are also found. In RP, the open-mid realization of /ɔː/ has been obsolete since the 1930s. Pronouncing that vowel as such is subject to correction for non-native speakers aiming at RP.[2][3][4][5]

In Received Pronunciation and Australian English, the open-mid back rounded vowel occurs as the main allophone of the LOT vowel /ɒ/. The contrast between /ɔː/ and /ɒ/ is thus strongly maintained, with the former vowel being realized as close-mid [] and the latter as open-mid [ɔ], similarly to the contrast between /o/ and /ɔ/ found in German, Italian and Portuguese.[2][3][6]

  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ a b Harrington, Cox & Evans (1997)
  3. ^ a b Geoff Lindsey (2012) Morgen — a suitable case for treatment, Speech Talk
  4. ^ Roach (2004:242)
  5. ^ Wells (1982)
  6. ^ Wikström (2013:45), "It seems to be the case that younger RP or near-RP speakers typically use a closer quality, possibly approaching Cardinal 6 considering that the quality appears to be roughly intermediate between that used by older speakers for the LOT vowel and that used for the THOUGHT vowel, while older speakers use a more open quality, between Cardinal Vowels 13 and 6."

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