Open-mid front rounded vowel

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Open-mid front rounded vowel
IPA number 311
Entity (decimal) œ
Unicode (hex) U+0153
Kirshenbaum W
Braille ⠪ (braille pattern dots-246)

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

The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low".

Open-mid front compressed vowel


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view
  • Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between an open vowel (a low vowel) and a mid vowel.
  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Note that 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Azeri öküz [œˈcyz] 'ox'
Afrikaans Standard[2] lug [lœχ] 'air' Many speakers merge /œ/ and /ə/ into [ɪ̈], especially in natural speech.[2] See Afrikaans phonology
Armenian Western Armenian Էօժենի [œʒɛˈni] 'Eugenie'
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3] Seil [sœ̠ː] 'rope' Near-front; may be transcribed /ɶ/.[3]
Chinese Cantonese /hoe1 [hœː˥] 'boots' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin /y [ɥœ˥˩] 'moon' See Mandarin phonology
Wu [ɰœ˩˧] 'bowl'
Danish Standard[4][5][6] gøre [ˈɡ̊œ̠ːɐ] 'to do' Near-front.[4][5] Most often, it is transcribed [œ̞ː] or the same as [ɶː]. See Danish phonology
Dutch Southern uit [œːt] 'out' Some dialects, corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
The Hague[7] Corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch.
Limburg hut [hœt] 'hut' Some dialects. Corresponds to [ɵ] in standard Dutch.
English Cockney[8] bird [bœ̠ːd] 'bird' Near-front.[8] May as well be unrounded [ɜ̟ː], or the RP variant /ɜː/.
New Zealand[9] Near-front;[9] may be [ɵ̟ː] or [ø̞̈ː] instead. See English phonology
South African[10]
go [ɡœː] 'go' Some speakers. Can be a diphthong of the type [œʉ]~[œɤ̈] instead. Other South African varieties don't monophthongize.
Faroese løgdu [lœdːʊ] 'laid' (pl.)
French[11] jeune [ʒœn] 'young' See French phonology
German Standard[12] Hölle [ˈhœ̞̈lə] 'hell' Near-front and somewhat lowered.[12] See German phonology
Limburgish[13][14][15] väöl [vœ̠ːl] 'much' Near-front.[13][14][15] The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.[16]
Lori shö [ʃœ] 'night'
Luxembourgish[17][18] Interieur [ˈɛ̃ːtəʀiœːʀ] 'interior' Occurs only in loanwords.[17][18] See Luxembourgish phonology
Mongolian Chakhar ᠣᠨᠢᠰᠤ [œnʲs] 'lock' The standard dialect in Inner Mongolia.
North Frisian blömk [blœmk] 'flower'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[19] øl [œ̠l̪] 'beer' Near-front.[19] See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Limousin puei [pœj] 'then'
Some Auvergnat varieties Most common in the north.
Turkish [example needed] Near-front; allophone of /ø/ in final open syllable of a phrase. Occurs only in loanwords. See Turkish phonology
Western Lombard fioeu [fjœː] 'son' Allophone of /ø/.
West Frisian Hindeloopers[20] [example needed] See West Frisian phonology
Súdwesthoeksk[20][21] skoalle [ˈskœlə] 'school'

Icelandic ⟨ö⟩ is often transcribed as /œ/, but it is actually central [ɞ].[22][23][24]

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 languages, such as Scandinavian ones, have protruded front vowels. One of these, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels (see near-close near-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, ⟨œʷ⟩ (an open-mid front rounded vowel modified by endolabialization) will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded open-mid front vowels.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Swedish Central Standard[25][26][27] öra About this sound [ˈœ̠̂ʷːˈrâ]  'ear' Allophone of /œ/ and most often also /øː/ before /r/.[25][26][27] May be more open [ɶ, ɶː] for younger speakers from Stockholm.[27] See Swedish phonology
Stockholm[27] köpa [ˈɕœ̠ʷːˈpa] 'to buy' Realization of /øː, œ/ for younger speakers.[27] Higher [øː, œ̝] for other speakers. See Swedish phonology
Southwestern dialects Corresponds to [øː] in Central Standard Swedish. See Swedish phonology


  1. Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  2. 2.0 2.1 Donaldson (1993:5)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Grønnum (1998:100)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Grønnum (2003)
  6. 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 (...)."
  7. Collins & Mees (2003:136)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Wells (1982:305)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Roca & Johnson (1999:188)
  10. Lass (2002:118)
  11. Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Mangold (2005:37)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Peters (2006:119)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Verhoeven (2007:221)
  16. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:158)
  17. 17.0 17.1 Trouvain & Gilles (2009:75)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Gilles & Trouvain (2013:72)
  19. 19.0 19.1 Vanvik (1979:13)
  20. 20.0 20.1 van der Veen (2001:102)
  21. Hoekstra (2001:83)
  22. Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  23. Haugen (1958:65)
  24. "Icelandic Phonetic Transcription.PDF - ptg_ice.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. 25.0 25.1 Eliasson (1986:273)
  26. 26.0 26.1 Thorén & Petterson (1992:13–14)
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Riad (2014:38)


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