Near-open central vowel

Near-open central vowel
IPA Number 324
Entity (decimal) ɐ
Unicode (hex) U+0250
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)
Audio sample
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The near-open central vowel, or near-low central 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 ⟨ɐ⟩, a rotated lowercase letter a.

In English this vowel is most typically transcribed with the symbol ⟨ʌ⟩, i.e. as if it were open-mid back. That pronunciation is still found in some dialects, but most speakers use a central vowel like [ɐ] or [ɜ].

Much like ⟨ə⟩, ⟨ɐ⟩ is a versatile symbol that is not defined for roundedness[2] and that can be used for vowels that are near-open central,[3] near-open near-front,[4] near-open near-back,[5] open-mid central,[6] open central[7] or a (often unstressed) vowel with variable height, backness and/or roundedness that is produced in that general area.[8] For open central unrounded vowels transcribed with ⟨ɐ⟩, see open central unrounded vowel.

When the usual transcription of the near-open near-front and the near-open near-back variants is different from ⟨ɐ⟩, they are listed in near-open front unrounded vowel and open back unrounded vowel or open back rounded vowel, respectively.

The near-open central unrounded vowel is sometimes the only open vowel in a language[9] and then is typically transcribed with ⟨a⟩.


  • Its vowel height is near-open, also known as near-low, which means the tongue is positioned similarly to an open vowel, but is slightly more constricted – that is, the tongue is positioned similarly to a low vowel, but slightly higher.
  • Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel.
  • It is undefined for roundedness, which means that it can be either rounded or unrounded. In practice however, the unrounded variant is more common.


In the following list, ⟨ɐ⟩ is assumed to be unrounded. The rounded variant is transcribed as ⟨ɐ̹⟩. Some instances of the latter may actually be fully open.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bengali[10] পা / pa [pɐ] 'leg' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Bengali phonology
Bulgarian[6] пара/para [pɐˈra] 'coin' Unstressed allophone of /ɤ/ and /a/.[6] May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə⟩. See Bulgarian phonology
Burmese[11] တ်/maat [mɐʔ] 'vertical' Allophone of /a/ in syllables closed by a glottal stop and when nasalized; realized as fully open [ä] in open oral syllables.[12]
Catalan Barcelona metropolitan area[13][14] emmagatzemar [ɐm(ː)ɐɣ̞ɐd͡z̺ɐˈmä] 'to store' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə⟩. See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese[15] / sam1 [sɐ̝m˥] 'heart' Open-mid.[15] See Cantonese phonology
Shanghainese[16] [kɐʔ˦] 'to cut' Appears only in closed syllables; the exact height and backness is somewhat variable.[16]
Danish[17] fatter [ˈfætɐ] 'understands' Varies between near-open central unrounded [ɐ], near-open near-back rounded [ɐ̹˗] and mid near-back unrounded [ə̠].[17] See Danish phonology
Dinka Luanyjang[18] [orthographic
form needed
[lɐ́ŋ] 'berry' Short allophone of /a/; varies between near-open [ɐ] and open-mid [ɐ̝].[18]
Emilian Bulåggna [buˈlʌɲːɐ] 'Bologna' Centralized /a/.
English Australia calm [kɐːm] 'calm' Central. See Australian English phonology
California[19] nut [nɐt] 'nut' See English phonology
Cockney[20][21] [nɐ̟ʔ] Near-front.[20]
East Anglian[22] [nɐʔ] Used in some places (e.g. Colchester) instead of the traditional [ʌ].[22]
New Zealand[23] [nɐʔt] Varies between near-open near-front [ɐ̟], near-open central [ɐ], open near-front [] and open central [ɐ̞].[23] See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[3] See English phonology
Inland Northern American[24] bet [bɐt] 'bet' Variation of /ɛ/ used in some places whose accents have undergone the Northern cities vowel shift.
Middle Class London[25] lot [lɐ̹ʔt] 'lot' Rounded; can be back [ɒ] instead.[25] See English phonology
Galician feita [ˈfejt̪ɐ] 'done' Realization of final unstressed /a/. See Galician phonology
German Standard[8] oder About this sound[ˈoːdɐ]  'or' The exact height, backness and roundedness is somewhere between [ä] and [ɔ], depending on the environment. Sometimes, an opening diphthong of the [əɐ̯]-type is used instead.[8] See Standard German phonology
Northern German accents[26] kommen [ˈkʰɐmən] 'to come' Varies between central [ɐ] and back [ɑ]; corresponds to an open-mid rounded [ɔ] in Standard German.[26] See Standard German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[9] ακακία / akaa [ɐkɐˈc̠i.ɐ] 'acacia' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Modern Greek phonology
Hausa[27] [example needed] Possible allophone of /a/, which can be as close as [ə] and as open as [ä].[27]
Hindustani[28] दस/دَس‎/das [ˈd̪ɐs] 'ten' Common realization of /ə/.[28] See Hindustani phonology
Korean[29] 하나 / hana [hɐnɐ] 'one' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩. See Korean phonology
Kumzari[4] [orthographic form?] [ɡɐ̟p] 'large' Near-front.[4]
Lithuanian kas [kɐs̪] 'what' See Lithuanian phonology
Luxembourgish[5] Kanner [ˈkʰɑnɐ̠] 'children' Near-back.[30] See Luxembourgish phonology
Mapudungun[31] ka [ˈkɐ̝ʐɘ̝] 'green' Open-mid;[31] often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩.
Norwegian Østfold dialect[32] bada [ˈbɐ̹̂ːdɐ] 'to bathe' The example word illustrates both the rounded [ɐ̹] and the unrounded [ɐ].
Portuguese[33][34] aja [ˈäʒɐ] 'act' (subj.) Closer [ɐ̝] in European Portuguese than in Brazilian Portuguese ([ɐ]).[33][34] See Portuguese phonology
Romanian Moldavian dialects[35] bărbat [bɐrˈbat] 'man' Corresponds to [ə] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian Standard Moscow[36] голова / golova About this sound[ɡəɫ̪ɐˈvä]  'head' Corresponds to [ʌ] in standard Saint Petersburg pronunciation;[36] occurs mostly immediately before stressed syllables. See Russian phonology
Sabiny[37] [example needed] Contrasts overshort unrounded and overshort rounded near-open central vowels.[38]
Ukrainian[39] слива / slyva [ˈslɪwɐ] 'plum' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[40] chếch [cɐ̆jk̚] 'askance' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə̆⟩. See Vietnamese phonology
Xumi[41][42] [ᴴtsʰɐ][clarification needed] 'salt' Near-open [ɐ] in Lower Xumi, open-mid [ɐ̝] in Upper Xumi. The latter phone may be transcribed with ⟨ɜ⟩. The example word is from Lower Xumi.[42][43]

See also