Open-mid front rounded vowel

The open-mid front rounded vowel, or low-mid front rounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the sound is œ. The symbol œ is a lowercase ligature of the letters o and e. The sound ɶ, a small capital version of the Œ ligature, is used for a distinct vowel sound: the open front rounded vowel.

Open-mid front rounded vowel
IPA Number311
Entity (decimal)œ
Unicode (hex)U+0153
Audio sample
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Open-mid front compressed vowel

The open-mid front compressed vowel is typically transcribed in IPA simply as œ, which is the convention used in this article. There is no dedicated IPA diacritic for compression. However, the compression of the lips can be shown by the letter β̞ as ɛ͡β̞ (simultaneous [ɛ] and labial compression) or ɛᵝ ([ɛ] modified with labial compression). The spread-lip diacritic   ͍ may also be used with a rounded vowel letter œ͍ as an ad hoc symbol, but 'spread' technically means unrounded.


  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Rounded front vowels are often centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-front.
  • Its roundedness is compressed, which means that the margins of the lips are tense and drawn together in such a way that the inner surfaces are not exposed.


Because front rounded vowels are assumed to have compression, and few descriptions cover the distinction, some of the following may actually have protrusion.

Asturian Some Western dialects[2] Asturian language [ˈfwœɾɐ] 'outside' Realization of o in the diphthong uo. May also be realized as [ɵ] or [ø].
BavarianAmstetten dialect[3]Seil[sœː]'rope'May be transcribed in IPA with ɶ.[3]
Northern[4]I helfad[i ˈhœlʲfɐd̥]'I'd help'Allophone of /ɛ/ before /l/.[4]
BretonAll speakers[5]Short counterpart of /øː/.[6] May be transcribed in IPA with ø.
Bas-Léon[6]Long; contrasts with the short open-mid /œ/ and the long close-mid /øː/. Other speakers have only one mid front rounded vowel /øː/.[6]
Buwal[7][kʷœ̄lɛ̄lɛ̄]'fine'Allophone of /a/ when adjacent to a labialized consonant.[7]
Chinese Cantonese / cheung4 [tsʰœːŋ˩] 'long' See Cantonese phonology
DanishStandard[8][9]gøre[ˈɡ̊œːɐ]'to do'Typically transcribed in IPA with ɶː. Some speakers may have an additional [ɶ̝ː] allophone, in case of which the open-mid allophone is transcribed with œ̞ː and the near-open allophone is written ɶː.[9] See Danish phonology
DutchStandard[10][11]manoeuvre[maˈnœːvrə]'manoeuvre'Occurs only in a few loanwords.[10][11] See Dutch phonology
Some speakers[12]parfum[pɑrˈfœ̃ː]'perfume'Nasalized; occurs only in a few loanwords and it is used mainly in southern accents. Often nativized as [ʏm].[12] See Dutch phonology
The Hague dialect[13]uit[œːt]'out'Corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch.[14] See Dutch phonology
EnglishGeneral New Zealand[15][16]bird[bœːd]'bird'May be mid [œ̝ː] instead. In broader varieties, it is close-mid or higher.[15][16][17] Typically transcribed in IPA with ɵː. See New Zealand English phonology
Scouse[18]Possible realization of the merged SQUARENURSE vowel /eː/.[18]
Southern Welsh[19]Also described as mid [œ̝ː][20] and close-mid [øː].[21][22]
General South African[23]go[ɡœː]'go'Some speakers. Can be a diphthong of the type [œʉ̯]~[œɘ̯] instead. Other South African varieties do not monophthongize. See South African English phonology
Faroese[24]høgt[hœkt]'high'See Faroese phonology
French[25][26]jeune[ʒœn]'young'See French phonology
Galician[27] semana [s̺œˈmãnɐ̃] ˈweek' Labialization of pre-tonic [e], which is usually realized as [o]
GermanStandard[28]Hölle[ˈhœlə]'hell'See Standard German phonology
Western Swiss accents[29]schön[ʃœːn]'beautiful'Close-mid [øː] in other accents.[30] See Standard German phonology
LimburgishMany dialects[31][32]mäö[mœː]'sleeve'Central [ɞː] in Maastricht;[33] the example word is from the Hasselt dialect.
Low German[34]söss / zös[zœs]'six'
Luxembourgish[35]Interieur[ˈɛ̃ːtəʀiœːʀ]'interior'Occurs only in loanwords.[35] See Luxembourgish phonology
Saterland Frisian[36][37]bölkje[ˈbœlkjə]'to rear'
West FrisianHindeloopers[38]See West Frisian phonology

Open-mid front protruded vowel

Open-mid front protruded vowel

Catford notes that most languages with rounded front and back vowels use distinct types of labialization, protruded back vowels and compressed front vowels. However, a few, such as Scandinavian languages, have protruded front vowels. One Scandinavian language, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels (see near-close front rounded vowel, with Swedish examples of both types of rounding).

As there are no diacritics in the IPA to distinguish protruded and compressed rounding, an old diacritic for labialization,   ̫, will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded front vowels. Another possible transcription is œʷ or ɛʷ (an open-mid front vowel modified by endolabialization), but it could be misread as a diphthong.

Acoustically, the sound is "between" the more typical compressed open-mid front vowel [œ] and the unrounded open-mid front vowel [ɛ].


  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Rounded front vowels are often centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-front.
  • Its roundedness is protruded, which means that the corners of the lips are drawn together, and the inner surfaces exposed.


Norwegian[40][41]nøtt[nœ̫tː]'nut'The example word is from Urban East Norwegian, in which the vowel has also been described as mid central [ɞ̝].[42] See Norwegian phonology
SwedishCentral Standard[43][44][45]öra[²œ̫ːra̠] 'ear'Allophone of /œ/ and most often also /øː/ before /r/.[43][44][45] May be more open [ɶ, ɶː] for younger speakers from Stockholm.[45] See Swedish phonology
Younger Stockholm speakers[45]köpa[²ɕœ̫ːpa̠]'to buy'Higher [øː] for other speakers. See Swedish phonology


  1. While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. García, Fernando Álvarez-Balbuena (2015-09-01). "Na frontera del asturllionés y el gallegoportugués: descripción y exame horiométricu de la fala de Fernidiellu (Forniella, Llión). Parte primera: fonética". Revista de Filoloxía Asturiana. 14 (14). ISSN 2341-1147.
  3. Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. Rowley (1990), p. 422.
  5. Ternes (1992), p. 433.
  6. Ternes (1992), pp. 431, 433.
  7. Viljoen (2013), p. 50.
  8. Grønnum (1998), p. 100.
  9. Basbøll (2005:46): "Nina Grønnum uses two different symbols for the vowels in these and similar words: gøre she transcribes with (...) [œ] (narrow transcription), and grøn she transcribes with (...) [ɶ̝] (narrow transcription). Clearly, there is variation within Standard Danish on this point (...)."
  10. Gussenhoven (1999), p. 76.
  11. Collins & Mees (2003), p. 137.
  12. van de Velde & van Hout (2002).
  13. Collins & Mees (2003), p. 136.
  14. Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 135–136.
  15. Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 188.
  16. Bauer & Warren (2004), pp. 582, 591.
  17. Wells (1982), p. 607.
  18. Gimson (2014), pp. 118, 138.
  19. Penhallurick (2004), p. 104.
  20. Wells (1982), p. 381.
  21. Collins & Mees (1990), p. 95.
  22. Connolly (1990), p. 125.
  23. Lass (2002), p. 118.
  24. Árnason (2011), pp. 68, 75.
  25. Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  26. Collins & Mees (2013), p. 225.
  27. Freixeiro Mato, X. Ramón. (2006-). Gramática da lingua galega (2. ed ed.). [Vigo, Spain]: Edicions A Nosa Terra. ISBN 84-8341-060-5. OCLC 213259857. Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: extra text (link)
  28. Hall (2003), pp. 97, 107.
  29. Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 65.
  30. Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), pp. 34, 65.
  31. Peters (2006), p. 119.
  32. Verhoeven (2007), p. 221.
  33. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 159.
  34. Prehn (2012), p. 157.
  35. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 72.
  36. Fort (2001), p. 411.
  37. Peters (2017), p. ?.
  38. van der Veen (2001), p. 102.
  39. Hoekstra (2001), p. 83.
  40. Vanvik (1979), pp. 13, 20.
  41. Kvifte & Gude-Husken (2005), p. 2.
  42. Kristoffersen (2000), pp. 16–17.
  43. Eliasson (1986), p. 273.
  44. Thorén & Petterson (1992), pp. 13–14.
  45. Riad (2014), p. 38.


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