Mid central vowel

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Template:Short description Template:Infobox IPA Template:IPA vowels

The mid central vowel (also known as schwa) is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is Template:Angbr IPA, a rotated lowercase letter e.

While the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association does not define the roundedness of Template:IPA,Template:Sfnp it is more often unrounded than rounded. The phonetician Jane Setter describes the pronunciation of the unrounded variant as follows: "Template:IPA is a sound which can be produced by basically relaxing the articulators in the oral cavity and vocalising."[1] To produce the rounded variant, all that needs to be done in addition to that is to round the lips.

Afrikaans contrasts unrounded and rounded mid central vowels; the latter is usually transcribed with Template:Angbr IPA. The contrast is not very stable, and many speakers use an unrounded vowel in both cases.Template:Sfnp

Some languages, such as DanishTemplate:Sfnp and Luxembourgish,Template:Sfnp have a mid central vowel that is variably rounded. In some other languages, things are more complicated, as the change in rounding is accompanied with the change in height and/or backness. For instance, in Dutch, the unrounded allophone of Template:IPA is mid central unrounded Template:IPA, but its word-final rounded allophone is close-mid front rounded Template:IPAblink, close to the main allophone of Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp

The symbol Template:Angbr IPA is often used for any unstressed obscure vowel, regardless of its precise quality. For instance, the English vowel transcribed Template:Angbr IPA is a central unrounded vowel that can be close-mid Template:IPAblink, mid Template:IPA or open-mid Template:IPAblink, depending on the environment.Template:Sfnp

Mid central unrounded vowel

The mid central unrounded vowel is frequently written with the symbol Template:IPA. If greater precision is desired, the symbol for the close-mid central unrounded vowel may be used with a lowering diacritic, Template:IPA. Another possibility is using the symbol for the open-mid central unrounded vowel with a raising diacritic, Template:IPA.


Template:Mid vowel Template:Central vowel Template:Unrounded vowel


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans StandardTemplate:Sfnp lig Template:IPA 'light' Also described as open-mid Template:IPAblink.Template:Sfnp See Afrikaans phonology
Many speakersTemplate:Sfnp lug 'air' Many speakers merge Template:IPA with Template:IPA, even in formal speech.Template:Sfnp See Afrikaans phonology
Catalan Eastern CatalanTemplate:Sfnp amb Template:IPA 'with' Reduced vowel. The exact height, backness and rounding are variable.Template:Sfnp See Catalan phonology
Some Western accentsTemplate:Sfnp
Chinese MandarinTemplate:Sfnp / gēn Template:Audio-IPA 'root' See Standard Chinese phonology
Danish StandardTemplate:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp hoppe Template:IPA 'mare' Sometimes realized as rounded Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp See Danish phonology
Dutch StandardTemplate:Sfnp renner Template:IPA 'runner' The backness varies between near-front and central, whereas the height varies between close-mid and open-mid. Many speakers feel that this vowel is simply an unstressed allophone of Template:IPAslink.Template:Sfnp See Dutch phonology
English Most dialectsTemplate:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp Tina Template:IPA 'Tina' Reduced vowel; varies in height between close-mid and open-mid. Word-final Template:IPA can be as low as Template:IPAblink.Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp See English phonology
Cultivated South AfricanTemplate:Sfnp bird Template:IPA 'bird' May be transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA. Other South African varieties use a higher, more front and rounded vowel Template:IPAblink. See South African English phonology
Received PronunciationTemplate:Sfnp Often transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA. It is sulcalized, which means the tongue is grooved like in Template:IPA. 'Upper Crust RP' speakers pronounce a near-open vowel Template:IPAblink, but for some other speakers it may actually be open-mid Template:IPAblink. This vowel corresponds to rhotacized Template:IPAblink in rhotic dialects.
GeordieTemplate:Sfnp bust Template:IPA 'bust' Spoken by some middle class speakers, mostly female; other speakers use Template:IPAblink. Corresponds to Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink in other dialects.
IndianTemplate:Sfnp May be lower. Some Indian varieties merge Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink with Template:IPA like Welsh English.
WalesTemplate:Sfnp May also be further back; it corresponds to Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink in other dialects.
YorkshireTemplate:Sfnp Middle class pronunciation. Other speakers use Template:IPAblink. Corresponds to Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink in other dialects.
Galician Some dialects leite Template:IPA 'milk' Alternative realization of final unstressed Template:IPA or Template:IPA (normally Template:IPA)
fenecer Template:IPA 'to die' Alternative realization of unstressed Template:IPA or Template:IPA in any position
German StandardTemplate:Sfnp Beschlag Template:Audio-IPA 'fitting' See Standard German phonology
Southern German accentsTemplate:Sfnp oder Template:IPA 'or' Used instead of Template:IPAblink.Template:Sfnp See Standard German phonology
KensiuTemplate:Sfnp Template:IPA 'to be bald' Contrasts with a rhotacized close-mid Template:IPAblink.Template:Sfnp
Kurdish Sorani (Central) شه‌و Template:IPA 'night' See Kurdish phonology
Palewani (Southern)
LuxembourgishTemplate:Sfnp dënn Template:IPA 'thin' More often realized as slightly rounded Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Many dialectsTemplate:Sfnp sterkeste Template:IPA 'the strongest' Occurs only in unstressed syllables. The example word is from Urban East Norwegian. Some dialects (e.g. Trondheimsk) lack this sound.Template:Sfnp See Norwegian phonology
PlautdietschTemplate:Sfnp bediedt Template:IPA 'means' The example word is from the Canadian Old Colony variety, in which the vowel is somewhat fronted Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp
Serbo-CroatianTemplate:Sfnp vrt Template:IPA 'garden' Template:IPA is a possible phonetic realization of the syllabic trill Template:IPA when it occurs between consonants.Template:Sfnp See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Swedish SouthernTemplate:Sfnp vante Template:IPA 'mitten' Corresponds to a slightly retracted front vowel Template:IPA in Central Standard Swedish.Template:Sfnp See Swedish phonology

Mid central rounded vowel

Template:Infobox IPA Languages may have a mid central rounded vowel (a rounded Template:IPA), distinct from both the close-mid and open-mid vowels. However, since no language is known to distinguish all three, there is no separate IPA symbol for the mid vowel, and the symbol Template:IPA for the close-mid central rounded vowel is generally used instead. If precision is desired, the lowering diacritic can be used: Template:IPA. This vowel can also be represented by adding the more rounded diacritic to the schwa symbol, or by combining the raising diacritic with the open-mid central rounded vowel symbol, although it is rare to use such symbols.


Template:Mid vowel Template:Central vowel Template:Rounded vowel


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans StandardTemplate:Sfnp lug Template:IPA 'air' Also described as open-mid Template:IPAblink,Template:Sfnp typically transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA. Many speakers merge Template:IPA and Template:IPA, even in formal speech.Template:Sfnp See Afrikaans phonology
Danish StandardTemplate:Sfnp hoppe Template:IPA 'mare' Possible realization of Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp See Danish phonology
Dutch Southern[2] hut Template:IPA 'hut' Found in certain accents, e.g. in Bruges. Close-mid Template:IPAblink in Standard Dutch.[2] See Dutch phonology
FrenchTemplate:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp je Template:IPA 'I' Only somewhat rounded;Template:Sfnp may be transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA or Template:Angbr IPA. Also described as close-mid Template:IPAblink.[3] May be more front for a number of speakers. See French phonology
German Chemnitz dialectTemplate:Sfnp Wonne Template:IPA 'bliss' Typically transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA.Template:Sfnp
Irish MunsterTemplate:Sfnp scoil Template:IPA 'school' Allophone of Template:IPA between a broad and a slender consonant.Template:Sfnp See Irish phonology
LuxembourgishTemplate:Sfnp dënn Template:IPA 'thin' Only slightly rounded; less often realized as unrounded Template:IPA.Template:Sfnp See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban EastTemplate:Sfnp nøtt Template:IPA 'nut' Also described as open-mid front Template:IPAblink;Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp typically transcribed in IPA with Template:Angbr IPA or Template:Angbr IPA. See Norwegian phonology
Plautdietsch Canadian Old ColonyTemplate:Sfnp butzt Template:IPA 'bumps' Mid-centralized from Template:IPAblink, to which it corresponds in other dialects.Template:Sfnp
Swedish Central StandardTemplate:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp full Template:Audio-IPA 'full' Pronounced with compressed lips, more closely transcribed Template:IPA or Template:IPA. Less often described as close-mid Template:IPAblink.Template:Sfnp See Swedish phonology

See also


  1. "A World of Englishes: Is [[:Template:IPA]] "real"?". Retrieved 8 March 2016.  URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Harvcoltxt. The source describes the Standard Dutch vowel as front-central Template:IPAblink, but more sources (e.g. Template:Harvcoltxt and Template:Harvcoltxt) describe it as central Template:IPAblink. As far as the lowered varieties of this vowel are concerned, Collins and Mees do not describe their exact backness.
  3. "english speech services | Le FOOT vowel". Retrieved 20 October 2018. 


External links

Template:IPA navigation