Open-mid back rounded vowel

Open-mid back rounded vowel
IPA Number 306
Entity (decimal) ɔ
Unicode (hex) U+0254
Braille ⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)
Audio sample
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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]


  • Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between an open vowel (a low vowel) and a mid vowel.
  • Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue is positioned back in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its roundedness is protruded, which means that the corners of the lips are drawn together, and the inner surfaces exposed.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Armenian Eastern[7] հողմ hoġm [hɔʁm] 'storm'
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[8] wås [β̞ɔs] 'what' Contrasts close [u], near-close [], close-mid [o] and open-mid [ɔ] back rounded vowels in addition to the open central unrounded [ä].[8] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɒ⟩.
Bengali[9] অর্থ ortho [ɔrt̪ʰo] 'meaning' See Bengali phonology
Bulgarian[10] род rod [rɔt̪] 'kin' See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan[11] soc [ˈsɔk] 'clog' See Catalan phonology
Cipu Tirisino dialect[12] kødø [kɔ̟̀ɗɔ̟́] 'cut down!' Near-back.[13]
Danish Standard[14][15] kort [ˈkʰɔːt] 'map' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɒː⟩. See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard Belgian[16] och About this sound[ʔɔˤx]  'alas' 'Very tense, with strong lip-rounding',[17] strongly pharyngealized[18] (although less so in standard Belgian[19]) and somewhat fronted.[16][20] See Dutch phonology
Standard Northern[20]
English Australian[2] not About this sound[nɔt]  'not' See Australian English phonology
New Zealand[22] May be somewhat fronted.[23] Often transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɒ⟩. See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[3][6] /ɒ/ has shifted up in emerging RP.
General American thought [θɔːt] 'thought' Mainly in speakers without the cot–caught merger. It may be lower [ɒ]. (It is rarely lowered to /ɒ/ in before liquids /l ɹ/, and may thus be more familiar to many North Americans in r-colored form, /ɔ˞/.)
Scottish[24] Many Scottish dialects exhibit the cot-caught merger, the outcome of which is a vowel of [ɔ] quality.
Sheffield[25] goat [ɡɔːt] 'goat' Common realization of the GOAT vowel particularly for males.
Newfoundland[26] but [bɔt] 'but' Less commonly unrounded [ʌ].[26] See English phonology
French Parisian[27] sotte [sɔt] 'silly' (f.) The Parisian realization has been variously described as a back vowel [ɔ] centralized to [ɞ] before /ʁ/[27] and central [ɞ].[28] See French phonology
Galician home [ˈɔmɪ] 'man' See Galician phonology
Georgian[29] სწრი stsori [st͡sʼɔɾi] 'correct'
German Standard[30] voll About this sound[fɔl]  'full' See Standard German phonology
Hindustani Hindi कौन kaun kɔːn 'who' See Hindustani phonology
Urdu کَون
Italian[31] parola About this sound[päˈrɔ̟ːlä]  'word' Near-back.[31] See Italian phonology
Kaingang[32] [ˈpɔ] 'stone'
Kera[33] [dɔ̟̀l] 'hard earth' Near-back.[33]
Kokborok kwrwi [kɔrɔi] 'not'
Limburgish[34][35] mòn [mɔːn] 'moon' Lower [ɔ̞ː] in the Maastrichtian dialect.[36] The example word is from the Hasselt dialect.
Lower Sorbian[37] osba [ˈpʂɔz̪bä] 'a request'
Low German Most dialects stok [stɔk] 'stick' May be more open [ɒ] in the Netherlands or more closed [o̞] in Low Prussian dialects.
Various dialects slaap [slɔːp] 'sleep' May be as low as [ɒː] and as high as [oː] in other dialects.
Southern Eastphalian brâd[38] [brɔːt] 'bread' Corresponds to [oː], [ou̯], [ɔu̯], [ɛo̯] in other dialects.
Luxembourgish[39] Sonn [zɔn] 'son' Possible realization of /o/.[39] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay Negeri Sembilan كيت / kita [kitɔ] 'we' (inclusive) See Negeri Sembilan Malay
Kelantan-Pattani بياسا / biasa [bɛsɔ] 'normal' See Kelatan-Pattani Malay
Norwegian Some dialects[40] så [sɔː] 'so' Present e.g. in Telemark; realized as mid [ɔ̝ː] in other dialects.[40] See Norwegian phonology
Odia ତିଥି atithi [ɔtitʰi] 'guest'
Polish[41] kot About this sound[kɔt̪]  'cat' See Polish phonology
Portuguese Most dialects[42][43] fofoca [fɔˈfɔ̞kɐ] 'gossip' Stressed vowel might be lower. The presence and use of other unstressed ⟨o⟩ allophones, such as [ o ʊ u], varies according to dialect.
Some speakers[44] bronca [ˈbɾɔ̃kə] 'scolding' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /õ̞/. See Portuguese phonology
Russian Some speakers[45] сухой sukhoy [s̪ʊˈxɔj] 'dry' More commonly realized as mid [].[45] See Russian phonology
Slovak dom [dɔm] 'house' See Slovak phonology
Spanish Some speakers sopa [ˈsɔ.pa] 'soup' More commonly realized as [o]. See Spanish phonology
Some Chilean and Peruvian dialects noticia [nɔˈti.sja] 'notice'
Swedish Standard moll [mɔlː] 'minor scale' See Swedish phonology
Thai ngo [ŋɔː˧] 'to bend'
Temne[46] pɔn [pɔ̟̀n] 'swamp' Near-back.[46]
Ukrainian[47] любов lyubov [lʲuˈbɔw] 'love' See Ukrainian phonology
Upper Sorbian[37][48] pos [pɔs̪] 'dog' See Upper Sorbian phonology
Welsh siop [ʃɔp] 'shop' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian[49] rôt [rɔːt] 'rat' See West Frisian phonology
Yoruba[50] itọju [itɔju] 'care' Nasalized; may be near-open [ɔ̞̃] instead.[50]

See also