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A near-open vowel or a near-low vowel is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a near-open vowel is that the tongue is positioned similarly to an open vowel, but slightly more constricted. Near-open vowels are sometimes described as lax variants of the fully open vowels.
The near-open vowels with dedicated symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:
- near-open front unrounded vowel [æ]
- near-open central vowel without specified rounding [ɐ] (usually used for an unrounded vowel; the distinction can be made as ⟨ɜ̞⟩ (or ⟨æ̈⟩) vs ⟨ɞ̞⟩)
Other near-open vowels can be indicated with diacritics of relative articulation applied to letters for neighboring vowels, such as ⟨ɒ̽⟩ and ⟨ɑ̽⟩ for near-open near-back rounded and unrounded vowels.