Open-mid back unrounded vowel

The open-mid back unrounded vowel, or low-mid back 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 ʌ, graphically a rotated lowercase "v" (called a turned V but created as a small-capital without the crossbar). Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as either a wedge, a caret, or a hat. In transcriptions for English, this symbol is commonly used for the near-open central unrounded vowel, and in transcriptions for Danish, it is used for the (somewhat mid-centralized) open back rounded vowel.

Open-mid back unrounded vowel
IPA Number314
Entity (decimal)ʌ
Unicode (hex)U+028C
Audio sample
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  • 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. Unrounded back vowels tend to be centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-back.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Catalan Solsonès[2] tarda [ˈtaɾð̞ʌ̃ː] 'afternoon' Realization of final unstressed /ə/
EnglishCape Town[3]lot[lʌt]'lot'It corresponds to a weakly rounded [ɒ̈] in all other South African dialects. See South African English phonology
Cardiff[4]thought[θʌːt]'thought'For some speakers it may be rounded and closer. See English phonology
General South African[5]no[nʌː]'no'May be a diphthong [ʌʊ̯] instead.[6] See South African English phonology
General American[7]gut[ɡʌt] 'gut'In most dialects, fronted to [ɜ], or fronted and lowered to [ɐ]. See English phonology and Northern Cities Vowel Shift
Inland Northern American[8]
Multicultural London[9]
Northern East Anglian[11]
Some Estuary English speakers[14]
FrenchPicardy[15]alors[aˈlʌʀ̥]'so'Corresponding to /ɔ/ in standard French.
GermanChemnitz dialect[16]machen[ˈmʌχɴ̩]'to do'Allophone of /ʌ, ʌː/ (which phonetically are central [ɜ, ɜː])[17] before and after /ŋ, kʰ, k, χ, ʁ/. Exact backness varies; it is most posterior before /χ, ʁ/.[18]
Haida[19]ḵwaáay[qʰwʌʔáːj]'the rock'Allophone of /a/ (sometimes also /aː/) after uvular and epiglottal consonants.[20]
IrishUlster dialect[21]ola[ʌl̪ˠə]'oil'See Irish phonology
Kaingang[22][ˈɾʌ]'mark'Varies between back [ʌ] and central [ɜ].[23]
Korean[25] / neo[nʌ]'you'See Korean phonology
LillooetRetracted counterpart of /ə/.
Mah Meri[26]Allophone of /ə/; can be mid central [ə] or close-mid back [ɤ] instead.[26]
Oʼodham Pima corresponds to [ɨ] in Papago.
RussianStandard Saint Petersburg[27]голова[ɡəɫ̪ʌˈvä]'head'Corresponds to [ɐ] in standard Moscow pronunciation;[27] occurs mostly immediately before stressed syllables. See Russian phonology
Tamil[28]Nasalized. Phonetic realization of the sequence /am/, may be [õ] or [ã] instead.[28] See Tamil phonology

Before World War II, the /ʌ/ of Received Pronunciation was phonetically close to a back vowel [ʌ]; this sound has since shifted forward towards [ɐ] (a near-open central unrounded vowel). Daniel Jones reports his speech (southern British), as having an advanced back vowel [ʌ̟] between his central /ə/ and back /ɔ/; however, he also reports that other southern speakers had a lower and even more advanced vowel approaching cardinal [a].[29] In American English varieties, e.g. the West and Midwest, and the urban South, the typical phonetic realization of the phoneme /ʌ/ is an open-mid central [ɜ].[30][31] Truly backed variants of /ʌ/ that are phonetically [ʌ] can occur in Inland Northern American English, Newfoundland English, Philadelphia English, some African-American Englishes, and (old-fashioned) white Southern English in coastal plain and Piedmont areas.[32][33] Despite this, the letter ʌ is still commonly used to indicate this phoneme, even in the more common varieties with central variants [ɐ] or [ɜ]. This may be due to both tradition as well as the fact that some other dialects retain the older pronunciation.[34]


  1. While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. "Anàlisi dialectològica d'uns parlars del Solsonès". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  3. Lass (2002), p. 115.
  4. Collins & Mees (1990), p. 95.
  5. Wells (1982), pp. 614, 621.
  6. Wells (1982), p. 614.
  7. Wells (1982), p. 485.
  8. W. Labov, S. Ash and C. Boberg (1997), A national map of the regional dialects of American English, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, retrieved May 27, 2013
  9. Gimson (2014), p. 91.
  10. Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 61–63.
  11. Trudgill (2004), p. 167.
  12. Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 73–74.
  13. Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 7.
  14. Altendorf & Watt (2004), p. 188.
  15. "Picardie : phonétique". Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  16. Khan & Weise (2013), pp. 235, 238.
  17. Khan & Weise (2013), p. 236.
  18. Khan & Weise (2013), p. 238.
  19. Lawrence (1977), pp. 32–33.
  20. Lawrence (1977), pp. 32–33, 36.
  21. Ní Chasaide (1999), pp. 114–115.
  22. Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676–677, 682.
  23. Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676, 682.
  24. Bishop (1996), p. 230.
  25. Lee (1999).
  26. Kruspe & Hajek (2009), p. 245.
  27. Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015), p. 225.
  28. Keane (2004), p. 114.
  29. Jones (1972), pp. 86–88.
  30. Gordon (2004b), p. 340.
  31. Tillery & Bailey (2004), p. 333.
  32. Thomas (2001), pp. 27–28, 112–115, 121, 134, 174.
  33. Gordon (2004a), pp. 294–296.
  34. Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 135.


  • Altendorf, Ulrike; Watt, Dominic (2004), "The dialects in the South of England: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 181–196, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Bishop, Nancy (1996), "A preliminary description of Kensiu (Maniq) phonology" (PDF), Mon–Khmer Studies Journal, 25
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (1990), "The Phonetics of Cardiff English", in Coupland, Nikolas; Thomas, Alan Richard (eds.), English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change, Multilingual Matters Ltd., pp. 87–103, ISBN 1-85359-032-0
  • Gimson, Alfred Charles (2014), Cruttenden, Alan (ed.), Gimson's Pronunciation of English (8th ed.), Routledge, ISBN 9781444183092
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004a), "New York, Philadelphia and other Northern Cities", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W. (eds.), A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 294–296, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Gordon, Matthew (2004b), "The West and Midwest: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W. (eds.), A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 340, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2009), "Fonologia e prosódia do Kaingáng falado em Cacique Doble", Anais do SETA, Campinas: Editora do IEL-UNICAMP, 3: 675–685
  • Jones, Daniel (1972), An outline of English phonetics (9th ed.), Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd.
  • Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549
  • Khan, Sameer ud Dowla; Weise, Constanze (2013), "Upper Saxon (Chemnitz dialect)" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (2): 231–241, doi:10.1017/S0025100313000145
  • Kruspe, Nicole; Hajek, John (2009), "Mah Meri", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 39 (2): 241–248, doi:10.1017/S0025100309003946
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend (ed.), Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052
  • Lawrence, Erma (1977), Haida dictionary, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center
  • Lee, Hyun Bok (1999), "Korean", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–122, ISBN 0-521-63751-1
  • Ní Chasaide, Ailbhe (1999). "Irish". Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Cambridge University Press. pp. 111–116. ISBN 0-521-63751-1.
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing
  • Scobbie, James M; Gordeeva, Olga B.; Matthews, Benjamin (2006), Acquisition of Scottish English Phonology: an overview, Edinburgh: QMU Speech Science Research Centre Working Papers
  • Thomas, Erik R. (2001), "An acoustic analysis of vowel variation in New World English", Publication of the American Dialect Society, Duke University Press for the American Dialect Society, 85, ISSN 0002-8207
  • Tillery, Jan; Bailey, Guy (2004), "The urban South: phonology", in Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar W. (eds.), A Handbook of Varieties of English: Volume 1: Phonology, Walter de Gruyter, p. 333, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Trudgill, Peter (2004), "The dialect of East Anglia: Phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 163–177, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Wells, J.C. (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.
  • Yanushevskaya, Irena; Bunčić, Daniel (2015), "Russian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 45 (2): 221–228, doi:10.1017/S0025100314000395
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