Mid front unrounded vowel
IPA Number302 430
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)e​̞
Unicode (hex)U+0065 U+031E
Braille⠑ (braille pattern dots-15)⠠ (braille pattern dots-6)⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)

The mid front unrounded vowel is a type of vowel sound that is used in some spoken languages. There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the exact mid front unrounded vowel between close-mid [e] and open-mid [ɛ], but it is normally written e. If precision is required, diacritics may be used, such as or ɛ̝ (the former, indicating lowering, being more common). In Sinology and Koreanology, is sometimes used, for example in the Zhengzhang Shangfang reconstructions.

For many of the languages that have only one phonemic front unrounded vowel in the mid-vowel area (neither close nor open), the vowel is pronounced as a true mid vowel and is phonetically distinct from either a close-mid or open-mid vowel. Examples are Basque, Spanish, Romanian, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Greek, Hejazi Arabic, Serbo-Croatian and Korean (Seoul dialect). A number of dialects of English also have such a mid front vowel. However, there is no general predisposition. Igbo and Egyptian Arabic, for example, have a close-mid [e], and Bulgarian has an open-mid [ɛ], but none of these languages have another phonemic mid front vowel.

Kensiu, spoken in Malaysia and Thailand, is claimed to be unique in having true-mid vowels that are phonemically distinct from both close-mid and open-mid vowels, without differences in other parameters such as backness or roundedness.[1]



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[2] bed [bɛ̝t] 'bed' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. The height varies between mid [ɛ̝] and close-mid [e].[2] See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Hejazi[3] بـيـت / bēt [be̞ːt] 'home' See Hejazi Arabic phonology
Breton[4] [example needed] Possible realization of unstressed /ɛ/; can be open-mid [ɛ] or close-mid [e] instead.[4]
Chinese Mandarin[5] / [je̞˨˩˦] 'also' See Standard Chinese phonology
Czech Bohemian[6] led [lɛ̝̈t] 'ice' Near-front; may be open-mid [ɛ] instead.[6] See Czech phonology
Dutch Some speakers[7] zet [zɛ̝t] 'shove' (n.) Open-mid [ɛ] in Standard Dutch.[7] See Dutch phonology
English Broad New Zealand[8] cat [kʰɛ̝t] 'cat' Lower in other New Zealand varieties;[8] corresponds to [æ] in other accents. See New Zealand English phonology
Cockney[9] bird [bɛ̝̈ːd] 'bird' Near-front; occasional realization of /ɜː/. It can be rounded [œ̝ː] or, more often, unrounded central [ɜ̝ː] instead.[9] Typically transcribed in IPA with ɜː.
Cultivated New Zealand[8] let [le̞t] 'let' Higher in other New Zealand varieties.[8] See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[10] Many speakers pronounce a more open vowel [ɛ] instead. See English phonology
Inland Northern American[11] bit [bë̞t̚] 'bit' Near-front,[11][12] may be [ɪ] (also [ə] in Scotland) instead for other speakers. See Northern Cities vowel shift
Scottish[12] [bë̞ʔ]
Yorkshire[13] play [ple̞ː] 'play'
Estonian[14] sule [ˈsule̞ˑ] 'feather' (gen. sg.) Common word-final allophone of /e/.[15] See Estonian phonology
Finnish[16][17] menen [ˈme̞ne̞n] 'I go' See Finnish phonology
German Standard[18] Bett [b̥ɛ̝t] 'bed' More often described as open-mid front [ɛ].[19][20] See Standard German phonology
Bernese dialect[21] rède [ˈrɛ̝d̥ə] 'to speak' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. See Bernese German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[22][23] πες / pes [pe̞s̠] 'say!' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew[24] כן/ken [ke̞n] 'yes' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[25] hét [he̞ːt̪] 'seven' Also described as close-mid [].[26] See Hungarian phonology
Ibibio[27] [sé̞] 'look'
Icelandic[28] kenna [ˈcʰɛ̝nːä] 'to teach' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. The long allophone is often diphthongized to [eɛ].[29] See Icelandic phonology
Italian Standard[30] crederci [ˈkreːd̪e̞rt͡ʃi] 'to believe' Common realization of the unstressed /e/.[30] See Italian phonology
Northern accents[31] penso [ˈpe̞ŋso] 'I think' Common realization of /e/.[31] See Italian phonology
Japanese[32] 笑み/emi [e̞mʲi] 'smile' See Japanese phonology
Jebero[33] [ˈiʃë̞k] 'bat' Near-front; possible realization of /ɘ/.[33]
Korean 내가 / naega [nɛ̝ɡɐː] 'I' Pronunciation of ɛ. See Korean phonology
Latvian[34] ēst [ê̞ːs̪t̪] 'to eat' Typically transcribed in IPA with e.
Limburgish Maastrichtian[35] bèd [bɛ̝t] 'bed' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. See Maastrichtian dialect phonology and Weert dialect phonology
Weert dialect[36] zègke [ˈzɛ̝ɡə] 'to say'
Low Saxon Gelders-Overijssels and Drents[37] èèt zie? [e̞ːt] 'do they eat?' Only around the border of eten - èten, [e:] vs [ɛ:]
Macedonian Standard мед [ˈmɛd̪] 'honey'
Malay Standard elok [e̞ˈlo̞ʔ] 'good' See Malay phonology
Norwegian Urban East[38][39] nett [nɛ̝tː] 'net' See Norwegian phonology
Romanian[40] fete [ˈfe̞t̪e̞] 'girls' See Romanian phonology
Russian[41] человек [t͡ɕɪlɐˈvʲe̞k] 'human' Occurs only after soft consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[42][43] тек / tek [t̪ĕ̞k] 'only' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak Standard[44][45] behať [ˈbɛ̝ɦäc] 'to run' See Slovak phonology
Slovene[46] velikan [ʋe̞liˈká̠ːn] 'giant' Unstressed vowel,[46] as well as an allophone of /e/ before /j/ when a vowel does not follow within the same word.[47] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[48] bebé [be̞ˈβ̞e̞] 'baby' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[49] häll [hɛ̝l̪] 'flat rock' Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ. Many dialects pronounce short /e/ and /ɛ/ the same. See Swedish phonology
Tera[50] ze [zè̞ː] 'spoke'
Turkish[51][52] ev [e̞v] 'house' See Turkish phonology
Upper Sorbian[53] njebjo [ˈn̠ʲɛ̝bʲɔ] 'sky' Allophone of /ɛ/ between soft consonants and after a soft consonant, excluding /j/ in both cases.[53]
Yoruba[54] [example needed] Typically transcribed in IPA with ɛ̃. It is nasalized, and may be open-mid [ɛ̃] instead.[54]


  1. ^ Bishop, N. (1996). A preliminary description of Kensiw (Maniq) phonology. Mon–Khmer Studies Journal, 25.
  2. ^ a b Wissing (2016), section "The unrounded mid-front vowel /ɛ/".
  3. ^ Abdoh (2010), p. 84.
  4. ^ a b Ternes (1992), p. 433.
  5. ^ Lee & Zee (2003), p. 110.
  6. ^ a b Dankovičová (1999), p. 72.
  7. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 131.
  8. ^ a b c d Gordon & Maclagan (2004), p. 609.
  9. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 305.
  10. ^ Roach (2004), p. 242.
  11. ^ a b Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (15 July 1997). "A National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English". Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 7.
  13. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 179.
  14. ^ Asu & Teras (2009), pp. 368–369.
  15. ^ Asu & Teras (2009), p. 369.
  16. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 60, 66.
  17. ^ Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008), p. 21.
  18. ^ Kohler (1999), p. 87.
  19. ^ Hall (2003), pp. 82, 107.
  20. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 34.
  21. ^ Marti (1985), p. 27.
  22. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 28.
  23. ^ Trudgill (2009), p. 81.
  24. ^ Laufer (1999), p. 98.
  25. ^ Szende (1994), p. 92.
  26. ^ Kráľ (1988), p. 92.
  27. ^ Urua (2004), p. 106.
  28. ^ Brodersen (2011).
  29. ^ Árnason (2011), pp. 57–60.
  30. ^ a b Bertinetto & Loporcaro (2005), pp. 137–138.
  31. ^ a b Bertinetto & Loporcaro (2005), p. 137.
  32. ^ Okada (1999), p. 117.
  33. ^ a b Valenzuela & Gussenhoven (2013), p. 101.
  34. ^ Grigorjevs & Jaroslavienė (2015), p. 79, 85.
  35. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 159.
  36. ^ Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998), p. 107.
  37. ^ Reeks Nederlandse Dialectatlassen Zuid-Drente en Noord-Overijssel 1982. H. Entjes.
  38. ^ Strandskogen (1979), pp. 15–16.
  39. ^ Vanvik (1979), p. 13.
  40. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  41. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 41.
  42. ^ Kordić (2006), p. 4.
  43. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 67.
  44. ^ Pavlík (2004), pp. 93, 95.
  45. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010), p. 375.
  46. ^ a b Tatjana Srebot-Rejec. "On the vowel system in present-day Slovene" (PDF).
  47. ^ Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999), p. 138.
  48. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 256.
  49. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 140.
  50. ^ Tench (2007), p. 230.
  51. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999), p. 155.
  52. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005), p. 10.
  53. ^ a b Šewc-Schuster (1984), p. 34.
  54. ^ a b Bamgboṣe (1966), p. 166.