Open-mid central unrounded vowel
IPA Number326
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɜ
Unicode (hex)U+025C
Braille⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠜ (braille pattern dots-345)

The open-mid central unrounded vowel, or low-mid central 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 ɜ (formerly ). The IPA symbol is not the digit ⟨3⟩ or the Cyrillic small letter Ze (з). The symbol is instead a reversed Latinized variant of the lowercase epsilon, ɛ. The value was specified only in 1993; until then, it had been transcribed ɛ̈.

The ɜ letter may be used with a raising diacritic ɜ̝, to denote the mid central unrounded vowel. It may also be used with a lowering diacritic ɜ̞, to denote the near-open central unrounded vowel.

Conversely, ə, the symbol for the mid central vowel may be used with a lowering diacritic ə̞ to denote the open-mid central unrounded vowel, although that is more specifically written with an additional unrounding diacritic ə̞͑ to explicitly denote the lack of rounding (the canonical value of IPA ə is undefined for rounding).



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[2] lig [lə̞χ] 'light' Also described as mid [ə],[3] typically transcribed in IPA with ə. See Afrikaans phonology
Cotabato Manobo[4] [bätɜʔ] 'child' Allophone of /a/ before glottal consonants; may be transcribed in IPA with ʌ.[4]
Dutch[5] grappig [ˈχɾɑpə̞χ] 'funny' Possible realization of /ə/.[5] See Dutch phonology
Emilian Bolognese métter [ˈmet̪ːɜr] 'to put' [citation needed]
English Received Pronunciation[6] bird [bɜːd] 'bird' Sulcalized (the tongue is grooved like in [ɹ]). "Upper Crust RP" speakers pronounce a more open vowel [ɐː], but for most other speakers it is actually mid ([ɜ̝ː]). This vowel corresponds to rhotacized [ɝ] in rhotic dialects.
Ohio[7] bud [bɜd] 'bud' One realization of the vowel transcribed in IPA with ʌ in American English, typical of Midland or Southern American English. It is not a standard pronunciation throughout the whole country.[6][7]
Most Texas speakers[7]
Northern Wales[8] Some speakers.[8] Corresponds to /ə/ in other Welsh dialects.[9]
Scottish[10] [bɜ̠d] Somewhat retracted; may be more back /ʌ/ instead.
German Chemnitz dialect[11] passe [ˈb̥ɜsə] '[I] pass' Typically transcribed in IPA with a.
Many speakers[12] herrlich [ˈhɜːlɪç] 'fantastic' Common alternative to the diphthong [ɛɐ̯].[12] See Standard German phonology
Hausa[13] [example needed] Possible allophone of /a/, which can be as close as [ə] and as open as [ä].[13]
Jebero[14] [ˈkɘnmɜʔ] 'indigenous person' Allophone of /a/ in closed syllables.[14]
Kaingang[15] [ˈɾɜ] 'mark' Varies between central [ɜ] and back [ʌ].[16]
Kalagan Kaagan[17] [mɜˈt̪äs] 'tall' Allophone of /a/; may be transcribed in IPA with ʌ.[17]
Kallahan[18] [example needed]
Ladin Gherdëina Urtijëi [uʀtiˈʒɜi̯] Urtijëi When stressed usually spelled with the letter ë.
Neapolitan Central Basilicatan varieties (Appennine Area) pesäre [pə׳sɜrə] or [pə׳sɜ̃rə] 'to weigh' Nasalization [ɜ̃] occurs in dialects such as Accetturese.[19]
Paicî[20] rë [ɾɜ] 'they' (prefix) May be transcribed in IPA with ʌ.
Romanian Standard[21] măr [mə̞r] 'apple' Typically transcribed in IPA with ə. See Romanian phonology
Transylvanian varieties of Romanian[22] a [aˈʂɜ] 'such' Corresponds to [ä] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Sama Sibutu[23] [ˈsäpɜw] 'roof' Allophone of /a/; may be transcribed in IPA with ʌ.[23]
Sindhi[24] [sə̞rə̞] 'funeral' Typically transcribed in IPA with ə.
Temne[25] pʌs [pɜ́s] 'brew' Typically transcribed in IPA with ʌ.[25]
Yiddish Standard[26] ענלעך [ˈɛnlɜχ] 'similar' Unstressed vowel.[26] See Yiddish phonology

See also


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Wissing (2012), p. 711.
  3. ^ Wissing (2016), section "The rounded and unrounded mid-central vowels".
  4. ^ a b Kerr (1988), pp. 110, 113.
  5. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 129.
  6. ^ a b Ladefoged (1993), p. 82.
  7. ^ a b c Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28.
  8. ^ a b Tench (1990), p. 135.
  9. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 380–381.
  10. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 167.
  11. ^ Khan & Weise (2013), p. 236.
  12. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 52.
  13. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), pp. 90–91.
  14. ^ a b Valenzuela & Gussenhoven (2013), p. 101.
  15. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676–677, 682.
  16. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676, 682.
  17. ^ a b Wendel & Wendel (1978), p. 198.
  18. ^ Santiago (2010), pp. 1, 8–10.
  19. ^ Volpe, Luigi (2011). La lingua dei masciaioli : dizionario del dialetto di Accettura, cittadina lucana in provincia di Matera / Luigi Volpe ; presentazione [di] Patrizia Del Puente (in Italian). Potenza: EditricErmes.
  20. ^ Gordon & Maddieson (1996), p. 118.
  21. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  22. ^ Pop (1938), p. 30.
  23. ^ a b Allison (1979), p. 82.
  24. ^ Nihalani (1999), p. 132.
  25. ^ a b Kanu & Tucker (2010), p. 249.
  26. ^ a b Kleine (2003), p. 263.