Near-open front unrounded vowel

Near-open front unrounded vowel
IPA Number 325
Entity (decimal) æ
Unicode (hex) U+00E6
Braille ⠩ (braille pattern dots-146)
Audio sample
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The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded 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 ⟨æ⟩, a lowercase of the ⟨Æligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "ash".

The rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish;[2][3] see open front rounded vowel for more information.

In practice, ⟨æ⟩ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.

In IPA transcriptions of Hungarian and Valencian, this vowel is typically written with ⟨ɛ⟩.


  • 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 front, which means the tongue is positioned forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[4] perd [pæːrt] 'horse' Allophone of /ɛ/, in some dialects, before /k χ l r/. See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Standard[5] كتاب‎ / kitāb [kiˈtæːb] 'book' Allophone of /a/ in the environment of plain labial and coronal consonants as well as /j/ (depending on the speaker's accent). See Arabic phonology
Bashkir[6] йәй / yäy About this sound[jæj]  'summer'
Bengali[7] /ek [æk] 'one' Allophone of /ɛ/ or /e/. See Bengali phonology
Catalan Majorcan[8] tesi [ˈt̪æzi] 'thesis' Main realization of /ɛ/. See Catalan phonology
Danish Standard[2][9] dansk [ˈtænsk] 'Danish' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨a⟩ – the way it is realized by certain older or upper-class speakers.[10] See Danish phonology
Dutch[11] pen [pæn] 'pen' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /n/ and the velarized or pharyngealized allophone of /l/. In non-standard accents this allophone is generalized to other positions, where [ɛ] is used in Standard Dutch.[12] See Dutch phonology
English Cultivated New Zealand[13] cat About this sound[kʰæt]  'cat' Higher in other New Zealand varieties. See New Zealand English phonology
General American[14] See English phonology
Conservative Received Pronunciation[15] Fully open [a] in contemporary RP.[15] See English phonology
Estonian[16] väle [ˈvæ̠le̞ˑ] 'agile' Near-front.[16] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[17] mäki [ˈmæki] 'hill' See Finnish phonology
French Parisian[18] bain [bæ̃] 'bath' Nasalized; typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃⟩. See French phonology
Quebec[19] ver [væːʁ] 'worm' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /ʁ/ or in open syllables, and of /a/ in closed syllables.[19] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard Austrian[20] erlauben [æˈlɑɔ̯bm̩] 'allow' Variant of pretonic [ɛɐ̯].[20] See Standard German phonology
West Central German accents[21] oder [ˈoːdæ] 'or' Used instead of [ɐ].[21] See Standard German phonology
Northern accents[22] alles [ˈa̝ləs] 'everything' Lower and often also more back in other accents.[22] See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[23] spät [ʃpæːt] 'late' Open-mid [ɛː] or close-mid [] in other accents; contrasts with the open-mid /ɛː/.[24] See Standard German phonology
Greek Macedonia[25] γάτα/gáta [ˈɣætæ] 'cat' See Modern Greek phonology
Pontic[26] καλάθια/kaláthia [kaˈlaθæ] 'baskets'
Hungarian[27] nem [næm] 'no' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Hungarian phonology
Kurdish Sorani (Central) گاڵته/ gältyä [gäːɫtʲæ] 'joke' Equal to Palewani (Southern) front [a]. See Kurdish phonology
Lakon[28] rävräv [ræβræβ] 'evening'
Limburgish[29][30][31] twelf [ˈtβ̞æ̠ləf] 'twelve' Front[30][31] or near-front,[29] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is near-front.
Lithuanian jachtą [ˈjæːxt̪aː] 'yacht' (accusative) See Lithuanian phonology
Luxembourgish[32] Käpp [kʰæpʰ] 'heads' See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[33][34] lær [læːɾ] 'leather' See Norwegian phonology
Persian[35][36] هشت/hašt [hæʃt] 'eight'
Portuguese Some dialects[37] pedra [ˈpædɾɐ] 'stone' Stressed vowel. In other dialects closer /ɛ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some European speakers[38] também [tɐˈmæ̃] 'also' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/.
Romanian Bukovinian dialect[39] piele [ˈpæle] 'skin' Corresponds to [je] in standard Romanian. Also identified in some Central Transylvanian sub-dialects.[39] See Romanian phonology
Russian[40][41] пять / pja About this sound[pʲætʲ]  'five' Allophone of /a/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian Zeta-Raška dialect[42] дан/dan [d̪æn̪] 'day' Regional reflex of Proto-Slavic *ь and *ъ. Sometimes nasalised.[42]
Sinhala[43] ඇය/æya [æjə] 'she'
Swedish Central Standard[44][45][46] ära About this sound[²æːɾä]  'hono(u)r' Allophone of /ɛː, ɛ/ before /r/. See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[46] läsa [²læːsä] 'to read' Realization of /ɛː, ɛ/ for younger speakers. Higher [ɛː, ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] for other speakers
Turkish[47] sen [s̪æn̪] 'you' Allophone of /e/ before syllable-final /m, n, l, r/. In a limited number of words (but not before /r/), it is in free variation with [].[47] See Turkish phonology

See also