Open-mid back rounded vowel
IPA Number306
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɔ
Unicode (hex)U+0254
Braille⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)
Spectrogram of ɔ

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]



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian Tosk tortë [ˈtɔɾtə] 'cake'
Armenian Eastern[7] հողմ hoġm [hɔʁm] 'storm'
Assamese কৰ / kor [kɔɹ] 'to do' May also be transcribed as fully low [ɒ] or "over-rounded" [ɒ̹]
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
Breton[10] roll [ˈrɔlː] 'list'
Bulgarian[11] род rod [rɔt̪] 'kin' See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan[12] soc [ˈsɔk] 'clog' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese ngo5 [ŋɔː˩˧] 'I, me, my' See Cantonese phonology
Hokkien bó͘ [bɔ⁵²] 'wife' See Hokkien phonology
Cipu Tirisino dialect[13] kødø [kɔ̟̀ɗɔ̟́] 'cut down!' Near-back.[14]
Danish Standard[15][16] kort [ˈkʰɔːt] 'map' Most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɒː⟩. See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard Belgian[17] och [ʔɔˤx] 'alas' 'Very tense, with strong lip-rounding',[18] strongly pharyngealized[19] (although less so in standard Belgian[20]) and somewhat fronted.[17][21] See Dutch phonology
Standard Northern[21]
English Australian[2] not [nɔt] 'not' See Australian English phonology
New Zealand[23] May be somewhat fronted.[24] 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/ before liquids /l ɹ/, and may thus be more familiar to many North Americans in r-colored form, /ɔ˞/.)
Scottish[25] Most Scottish dialects exhibit the cot-caught merger, the outcome of which is a vowel of [ɔ] quality.
Sheffield[26] goat [ɡɔːt] 'goat' Common realization of the GOAT vowel particularly for males.
Newfoundland[27] but [bɔt] 'but' Less commonly unrounded [ʌ].[27] See English phonology
Faroese lálla [ˈlɔtla] 'seal flipper' See Faroese phonology
French Parisian[28] sotte [sɔt] 'silly' (f.) The Parisian realization has been variously described as a back vowel [ɔ] centralized to [ɞ] before /ʁ/[28] and central [ɞ].[29] See French phonology
Galician home [ˈɔmɪ] 'man' See Galician phonology
Georgian[30] სწრი stsori [st͡sʼɔɾi] 'correct'
German Standard[31] voll [fɔl] 'full' See Standard German phonology
Hindustani Hindi कौन /kaun [kɔːn] 'who' See Hindustani phonology
Urdu کَون/kaun
Italian[32] parola [päˈrɔ̟ːlä] 'word' Near-back.[32] See Italian phonology
Javanese ꦫꦱ / råså [rɔsɔ] taste, feeling
Kaingang[33] [ˈpɔ] 'stone'
Kera[34] [dɔ̟̀l] 'hard earth' Near-back.[34]
Kokborok kwrwi [kɔrɔi] 'not'
Limburgish[35][36] mòn [mɔːn] 'moon' Lower [ɔ̞ː] in the Maastrichtian dialect.[37] The example word is from the Hasselt dialect.
Lower Sorbian[38] 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[39] [brɔːt] 'bread' Corresponds to [oː], [ou̯], [ɔu̯], [ɛo̯] in other dialects.
Luxembourgish[40] Sonn [zɔn] 'son' Possible realization of /o/.[40] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay Standard sotong [sotɔŋ] 'squid' Possible realization of /o/ and /u/ in closed final syllables. See Malay phonology
Negeri Sembilan كيت / kita [kitɔ] 'we' (inclusive) See Negeri Sembilan Malay
Kelantan-Pattani بياسا / biasa [bɛsɔ] 'normal' See Kelatan-Pattani Malay
Norwegian Some dialects[41] så [sɔː] 'so' Present e.g. in Telemark; realized as mid [ɔ̝ː] in other dialects.[41] See Norwegian phonology
Occitan òda [ɔðɔ] 'ode' See Occitan phonology
Odia ର୍ଥ [ɔɾtʰɔ] 'meaning'
Polish[42] kot [kɔt̪] 'cat' See Polish phonology
Portuguese Most dialects[43][44] 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[45] bronca [ˈbɾɔ̃kə] 'scolding' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /õ̞/. See Portuguese phonology
Russian Some speakers[46] сухой sukhoy [s̪ʊˈxɔj] 'dry' More commonly realized as mid [].[46] See Russian phonology
Slovak Standard[47] ohúriť [ˈɔɦu̞ːri̞c] 'to stun' See Slovak phonology
Swedish Standard moll [mɔlː] 'minor scale' See Swedish phonology
Tagalog oyayi [ʔɔˈjajɪ] 'lullaby' See Tagalog phonology
Thai ngo [ŋɔː˧] 'to bend'
Temne[48] pɔn [pɔ̟̀n] 'swamp' Near-back.[48]
Ukrainian[49] любов lyubov [lʲuˈbɔw] 'love' See Ukrainian phonology
Upper Sorbian[38][50] pos [pɔs̪] 'dog' See Upper Sorbian phonology
Welsh siop [ʃɔp] 'shop' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian[51] rôt [rɔːt] 'rat' See West Frisian phonology
Yoruba[52] [example needed] Nasalized; may be near-open [ɔ̞̃] instead.[52]

See also


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ a b c Harrington, Cox & Evans (1997)
  3. ^ a b c Geoff Lindsey (2012) Morgen — a suitable case for treatment, Speech Talk
  4. ^ Roach (2004:242)
  5. ^ Wells (1982)
  6. ^ a b Wikström (2013:45), "It seems to be the case that younger RP or near-RP speakers typically use a closer quality, possibly approaching Cardinal 6 considering that the quality appears to be roughly intermediate between that used by older speakers for the LOT vowel and that used for the THOUGHT vowel, while older speakers use a more open quality, between Cardinal Vowels 13 and 6."
  7. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  8. ^ a b Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  9. ^ Khan (2010:222)
  10. ^ Mikael Madeg, Traité de prononciation du breton du Nord-Ouest à l’usage des bretonnants, Emgleo Breiz, Brest, 2010
  11. ^ Ternes & Vladimirova-Buhtz (1999:56)
  12. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54)
  13. ^ McGill (2014), pp. 308–309.
  14. ^ McGill (2014), p. 308.
  15. ^ Grønnum (1998:100)
  16. ^ Basbøll (2005:47)
  17. ^ a b Verhoeven (2005:245)
  18. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:132)
  19. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:132, 222 and 224)
  20. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:222)
  21. ^ a b Gussenhoven (1992:47)
  22. ^ Wells (1982:305)
  23. ^ Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009)
  24. ^ Bauer et al. (2007:98)
  25. ^ Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006:7)
  26. ^ Stoddart, Upton & Widdowson:74)
  27. ^ a b Wells (1982:498)
  28. ^ a b Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  29. ^ Collins & Mees (2013:225)
  30. ^ Shosted & Chikovani (2006:261–262)
  31. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:34)
  32. ^ a b Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:119)
  33. ^ Jolkesky (2009:676–677, 682)
  34. ^ a b Pearce (2011:251)
  35. ^ Verhoeven (2007:221)
  36. ^ Peters (2006:118–119)
  37. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:158–159)
  38. ^ a b Stone (2002:600)
  39. ^ Schambach, Gerog (1858), "Wörterbuch der niederdeutschen Mundart der Fürstenthümer Göttingen und Grubenhagen oder GöttingischGrubenhagen'sches Idiotikon", p. 30.
  40. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  41. ^ a b Popperwell (2010:26)
  42. ^ Jassem (2003:105)
  43. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  44. ^ Variação inter- e intra-dialetal no português brasileiro: um problema para a teoria fonológica – Seung-Hwa LEE & Marco A. de Oliveira Archived 2014-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (in Portuguese)
  46. ^ a b Jones & Ward (1969:56)
  47. ^ Pavlík (2004), pp. 94–95.
  48. ^ a b Kanu & Tucker (2010:249)
  49. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  50. ^ Šewc-Schuster (1984:20)
  51. ^ Tiersma (1999), p. 10.
  52. ^ a b Bamgboṣe (1969:166)


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