Open central unrounded vowel

Open central unrounded vowel
IPA Number304 415
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ä
Unicode (hex)U+00E4
X-SAMPAa_" or a

The open central unrounded vowel, or low central unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. While the International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no dedicated letter for this sound between front [a] and back [ɑ], it is normally written a. If precision is required, it can be specified by using diacritics, typically centralized ä.

However, it has been argued that the purported distinction between a front and central open vowel is based on outdated phonetic theories, and that cardinal [a] is the only open vowel, while [ɑ], like [æ], is a near-open vowel.[2][clarification needed]

It is usual to use plain a for an open central vowel and, if needed, æ for an open front vowel. Sinologists may use the letter (small capital A). The IPA has voted against officially adopting this symbol in 1976, 1989, and 2012.[3][4][5]

  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Geoff Lindsey, The vowel space, March 27, 2013
  3. ^ Wells (1976).
  4. ^ International Phonetic Association (1989), p. 74.
  5. ^ Keating (2012).

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