Mid front unrounded vowel

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Mid front unrounded vowel
IPA number 302 430
Entity (decimal) e​̞
Unicode (hex) U+0065 U+031E
Braille ⠑ (braille pattern dots-15) ⠠ (braille pattern dots-6) ⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)

The mid front unrounded vowel is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. While there is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the exact mid front unrounded vowel between close-mid [e] and open-mid [ɛ], it is normally written ⟨e⟩. If precision is required, diacritics may be used, such as ⟨⟩ or ⟨ɛ̝⟩ (the former, indicating lowering, being more common). In Sinology and Koreanology⟩, (small capital E, U+1D07, ᴇ) is used sometimes.

For many languages that have only one phonemic front unrounded vowel in the mid-vowel area (i.e. neither close nor open), this vowel is pronounced as a true mid vowel, phonetically distinct from either a close-mid or open-mid vowel. Examples are Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Greek and Turkish. A number of dialects of English also have such a mid front vowel. However, there is no general predisposition for this. Igbo, for example, has a close-mid [e], whereas Bulgarian has an open-mid [ɛ], even though neither language has another phonemic mid front vowel.

The Kensiu language spoken in Malaysia and Thailand is claimed to be unique in having true-mid vowels that are phonemically distinct from both close-mid and open-mid vowels without differences in other parameters such as backness or roundedness.[1]


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Hejazi[2] ليش [le̞ːʃ] 'why' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic h [he̞ː] 'yes' Usually shifted to [e] and [ɪ] in the Urmia and Jilu dialects.
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3] [example needed]
Catalan Modern Alguerese[4] sec [se̞k] 'dry' /ɛ/ and /e/ merge into [e̞] in these dialects. See Catalan phonology
Chinese Mandarin /fēi [fe̞ɪ̯˥] 'to fly' See Standard Chinese phonology
Czech Bohemian[5] led [lë̞t] 'ice' Near-front; may be open-mid [ɛ] instead.[5] See Czech phonology
Danish[6] Conservative[7] hæl [ˈhe̞ːˀl] 'heel' Realized as close-mid [] in contemporary standard Danish;[8][9] most often, it is transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛː⟩. See Danish phonology
Dutch Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect[10] wel [β̞e̞ɫ] 'well' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect phonology
English Broad New Zealand[11] cat [kʰe̞t] 'cat' Lower in other New Zealand varieties;[11] corresponds to [æ] in other accents.
Cardiff[12] square [skwe̞ː] 'square' May be open-mid [ɛː] instead.[12]
Cultivated New Zealand[11] let [le̞t] 'let' Higher in other New Zealand varieties.[11]
Received Pronunciation[13] Many speakers pronounce a more open vowel [ɛ] instead. See English phonology
Inland Northern American[14] bit [bë̞t̚] 'bit' Near-front,[14][15] may be [ɪ] (also [ə] in Scotland) instead for other speakers. See Northern Cities vowel shift
Scottish[15] [bë̞ʔ]
Yorkshire[16] play [ple̞ː] 'play'
Estonian[17] keha [ˈke̞ɦɑ̝ˑ] 'body' See Estonian phonology
Finnish[18][19] menen [ˈme̞ne̞n] 'I go' See Finnish phonology
German Standard[20] Bett [bɛ̝̈t] 'bed' Near-front;[20] also described as open-mid front [ɛ].[21] See Standard German phonology
Bernese dialect[22] rède [ˈre̞d̥ə] 'to speak' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Bernese German phonology
Greek φαινόμενο /
[fe̞ˈno̞me̞no̞] 'phenomenon' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew[23] כן [ke̞n] 'yes' Hebrew vowels are not shown in the script, see Niqqud and Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[24] hét [he̞ːt̪] 'seven' Also described as close-mid [].[25] See Hungarian phonology
Ibibio[26] [sé̞] 'look'
Italian Piedmont bene [ˈbe̞ːne̞] 'good' Corresponds to /ɛ/ and /e/ in standard Italian. See Italian phonology
Japanese[27] 笑み About this sound [e̞mʲi]  'smile' See Japanese phonology
Jebero[28] [ˈiʃë̞k] 'bat' Near-front; possible realization of /ɘ/.[28]
Korean[29] 베개 [pe̞ˈɡɛ] 'pillow' See Korean phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[30] bed [be̞t] 'bed' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩.
Weert dialect[31] zegke [ˈze̞ɡə] 'to say'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[32] nett [n̻e̞t̻ː] 'net' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese Brazilian energia [ẽ̞ne̞ɦˈʑi.ɐ] 'energy' Unstressed vowel.[33] See Portuguese phonology
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[34] birk [be̞ʁk] [translation needed] Allophone of /e/ before /m, n, ŋ, l, ʁ/.[34]
Romanian fete [ˈfe̞t̪e̞] 'girls' See Romanian phonology
Russian[35] человек [t͡ɕɪlɐˈvʲe̞k] 'human' Occurs only after soft consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[36] питање /
About this sound [pǐːt̪äːɲ̟e̞]  'question' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak Standard[25][37][38] behať [ˈbe̞ɦäc̟] 'to run' Backness varies between front and near-front.[38] See Slovak phonology
Slovene[39] velikan [ʋe̞liˈká̠ːn] 'giant' Unstressed vowel,[39] as well as an allophone of /e/ before /j/ when a vowel does not follow within the same word.[40] See Slovene phonology
Sorbian Upper[41] njebjo [ˈɲ̟e̞bʲɔ] 'sky' Allophone of /ɛ/ between soft consonants and after a soft consonant, excluding /j/ in both cases.[41] See Upper Sorbian phonology
Spanish[42] bebé [be̞ˈβ̞e̞] 'baby' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[43] häll [he̞l̪] 'flat rock' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ⟩. Many dialects pronounce short /e/ and /ɛ/ the same. See Swedish phonology
Tagalog daliri [dɐˈliɾe̞] 'finger' See Tagalog phonology
Tera[44] ze [zè̞ː] 'spoke'
Turkish[45][46] ev [e̞v] 'house' See Turkish phonology
Võro [example needed]
West Frisian[47] ik [e̞k] 'I' Also described as close-mid [e];[48] typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɪ⟩. See West Frisian phonology
Yoruba[49] [example needed] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɛ̃⟩. It is nasalized, and may be open-mid [ɛ̃] instead.[49]


  1. Bishop, N. (1996). A preliminary description of Kensiw (Maniq) phonology. Mon–Khmer Studies Journal, 25.
  2. Jarrah, Mohamed Ali Saleh (1993)
  3. Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Recasens (1996:59-60)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dankovičová (1999:72)
  6. Uldall (1933), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:289)
  7. Ladefoged & Johnson (2010:227)
  8. Grønnum (1998:100)
  9. Basbøll (2005:45)
  10. Peters (2010:241)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Gordon & Maclagan (2004:609)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Collins & Mees (1990:95)
  13. Roach (2004:242)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (15 July 1997). "A National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English". Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006:7)
  16. Roca & Johnson (1999:179)
  17. Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  18. Iivonen & Harnud (2005:60, 66)
  19. Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Kohler (1999:87)
  21. Mangold (2005:37)
  22. Marti (1985), p. ?.
  23. Laufer (1999:98)
  24. Szende (1994:92)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Kráľ (1988:92)
  26. Urua (2004:106)
  27. Okada (1991:94)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Valenzuela & Gussenhoven (2013:101)
  29. Lee (1999:121)
  30. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  31. Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998:107)
  32. Vanvik (1979:13)
  33. Corresponds to /ɛ/, or /ɨ/ and /i/ (where Brazilian dialects have [i ~ ɪ ~ e̞]), in other national variants. May be lowered to [ɛ̝ ~ ɛ] in amazofonia, nordestino, mineiro (MG) and fluminense (RJ) if not nasalized ([ẽ̞] does not corresponds to phoneme //), or be raised and merged to /e/ in sulista, paulistano, caipira and sertanejo.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:16)
  35. Jones & Ward (1969:41)
  36. Landau et al. (1999:67)
  37. Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:375)
  38. 38.0 38.1 Pavlík (2004:93, 95)
  39. 39.0 39.1 Tatjana Srebot-Rejec. "On the vowel system in present-day Slovene" (PDF). 
  40. Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:138)
  41. 41.0 41.1 Šewc-Schuster (1984:34)
  42. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:256)
  43. Engstrand (1999:140)
  44. Tench (2007:230)
  45. Zimmer & Orgun (1999:155)
  46. Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  47. Sipma (1913:10)
  48. Tiersma (1999:10)
  49. 49.0 49.1 Bamgboṣe (1969:166)


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