Open-mid front unrounded vowel

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Open-mid front unrounded vowel
IPA number 303
Entity (decimal) ɛ
Unicode (hex) U+025B
Kirshenbaum E
Braille ⠜ (braille pattern dots-345)

The open-mid front unrounded vowel, or low-mid front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is a Latinized variant of the Greek lowercase epsilon, ⟨ɛ⟩.

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".


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
Akan pɛ [pʰɛ] 'to like'
Albanian tre [tɾɛ] 'three'
Arabic كريب [kɾɛp] 'crêpe' Only in loanwords and used by a small number of speakers, depending on country of origin. See Arabic phonology.
Armenian Eastern[1] էջ [ɛd͡ʒ] 'page'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic mes [mɛːs] 'table' Used predominantly in the Tyari, Barwari and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic dialects. Corresponds to [i] in other varieties.
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[2] [example needed] May be transcribed in IPA as ⟨æ⟩.[2]
Catalan[3] mel [mɛɫ] 'honey' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese /se4 [sɛː˩] 'snake' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin /xié [ɕjɛ˧˥] 'tilted' See Mandarin phonology
Wu / ngae [ŋɛ˥˨] 'face'
Czech[4][5][6] led [lɛt] 'ice' In Bohemian Czech, this vowel varies between open-mid front [ɛ], open-mid near-front [ɛ̠] and mid near-front [ɛ̝̈].[4] See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[7][8][9][10] frisk [ˈfʁ̞ɛsɡ̊] 'fresh' Most often transcribed in IPA as ⟨æ⟩. See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard[11] bed About this sound [bɛt]  'bed' See Dutch phonology
The Hague[12] jij About this sound [jɛ̞ː]  'you' Corresponds to [ɛi] in standard Dutch.
English General American[13] bed About this sound [bɛd]  'bed'
Northern English[14] May be somewhat lowered.[15]
Received Pronunciation[16][17] Older RP speakers pronounce a closer vowel []. See English phonology
Cockney[19] fat [fɛt] 'fat'
New Zealand[21]
Some Broad South African speakers[22] Other speakers realize this vowel as [æ] or [a].
Belfast[23] days [dɛːz] 'days' Pronounced [iə] in closed syllables; corresponds to [eɪ] in RP.
Zulu[24] mate [mɛt] 'mate' Speakers exhibit a met-mate merger.
Estonian[25] sule [ˈsulɛˑ] 'feather (gen. sg.)' Common word-final allophone of /e/.[26] See Estonian phonology
Faroese elska [ɛlska] 'love'
French[27] bête About this sound [bɛt̪]  'beast' See French phonology
Galician pé [pɛ] 'foot'
Georgian[28] გედი [ɡɛdɪ] 'swan'
German Standard[29] Bett About this sound [bɛt]  'bed' Also described as mid near-front [ɛ̝̈].[30] See Standard German phonology
Hindustani شَہَر / शहर [ʃɛɦɛr] 'city' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian nem [nɛm] 'no' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[31][32][33] kenna [ˈcʰɛnːa] 'to teach' Often diphthongized to [eɛ] when long.[34] See Icelandic phonology
Italian[35] bene About this sound [ˈbɛːne]  'good' See Italian phonology
Kaingang[36] [ˈᵐbɾɛ] 'with'
Korean 태도 [tʰɛː.do] 'attitude' Currently merging with [e] in Seoul dialects. See Korean phonology
Limburgish[37][38][39] crème [kʀ̝ɛːm] 'cream' The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.[40]
Lithuanian mane [mɐˈnʲɛ] 'me' (acc.)
Luxembourgish[41][42] Stär [ʃtɛːɐ̯] 'star' Allophone of /eː/ before /ʀ/.[42] See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonian елен [ˈɛl̪ɛn̪] 'deer' See Macedonian phonology
Ngwe Njoagwi dialect [lɛ̀rɛ́] 'eye'
North Frisian tech [tɛx] 'closed'
Polish[43] ten About this sound [t̪ɛn̪]  'this one' (masc. nom.) See Polish phonology
Portuguese Most dialects[44][45] meleca [mɛˈl̪ɛ̞kə] 'goo' Stressed vowel might be lower [æ]. The presence and use of other unstressed ⟨e⟩ allophones, such as [ e ɪ i ɨ], varies according to dialect.
Some speakers[46] tempo [ˈt̪ɛ̃pu] 'time' Stressed vowel, allophone of nasal vowel /ẽ̞/. See Portuguese phonology
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[47] vede [ˈvɛɟe] '(he) sees' Corresponds to mid [] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian[48] это About this sound [ˈɛt̪ə]  'this' See Russian phonology
Scottish Gaelic aig [ɛk] 'at' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Seri me [mɛ] 'you'
Shiwiar[49] [example needed] Allophone of /a/.
Slovak[6] behať [ˈbɛɦäc̟] 'to run' Rare realization of /e/; most commonly realized as mid [].[6] See Slovak phonology
Spanish Eastern Andalusian[50] las madres [læ̞ː ˈmæ̞ːð̞ɾɛː] 'the mothers' Corresponds to [] in other dialects, but in these dialects they're distinct. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[51] ät [ɛ̠ːt̪] 'eat' (imp.) Somewhat retracted. See Swedish phonology
Turkish[52][53] ülke''' [y̠l̠ˈcɛ] 'country' Allophone of /e/ described variously as "word-final"[52] and "occurring in final open syllable of a phrase".[53] See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian береза About this sound [bɛˈrɛz̪ɐ]  'birch' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese e [ɛ] 'to fear' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian têd [tɛːt] 'languid'
Yoruba[54] sẹ̀ [ɛ̄sɛ] 'leg'

The vowel transcribed /ɛ/ in Standard Eastern Norwegian is actually mid.[55]

See also


  1. Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  3. Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dankovičová (1999:72)
  5. Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012:228)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Kráľ (1988:92)
  7. Grønnum (1998:100)
  8. Grønnum (2005:268)
  9. Grønnum (2003)
  10. Basbøll (2005:45)
  11. Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  12. Collins & Mees (2003:136)
  13. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009a)
  14. Lodge (2009:163), Watson (2007:357), Watt & Allen (2003:268)
  15. Lodge (2009:163)
  16. Schmitt (2007:322–323)
  17. "Received Pronunciation". British Library. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  18. Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006:7)
  19. Hughes & Trudgill (1979:35)
  20. Bet Hashim & Brown (2000)
  21. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009b)
  22. Lanham (1967:9)
  23. "Week 18 (ii). Northern Ireland" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  24. Rodrik Wade, MA Thesis, Ch 4: Structural characteristics of Zulu English at the Wayback Machine (archived May 17, 2008)
  25. Asu & Teras (2009:368–369)
  26. Asu & Teras (2009:369)
  27. Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  28. Shosted & Chikovani (2006:261–262)
  29. Mangold (2005:37)
  30. Kohler (1999:87)
  31. Árnason (2011:60)
  32. Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  33. Haugen (1958:65)
  34. Árnason (2011:57–60)
  35. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:119)
  36. Jolkesky (2009:676–677 and 682)
  37. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  38. Peters (2006:119)
  39. Verhoeven (2007:221)
  40. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:158)
  41. Trouvain & Gilles (2009:75)
  42. 42.0 42.1 Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  43. Jassem (2003:105)
  44. Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  45. Variação inter- e intra-dialetal no português brasileiro: um problema para a teoria fonológica – Seung-Hwa LEE & Marco A. de Oliveira
  46. Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP
  47. Pop (1938), p. 29.
  48. Jones & Ward (1969:41)
  49. Fast Mowitz (1975:2)
  50. 50.0 50.1 Zamora Vicente (1967:?)
  51. Engstrand (1999:140)
  52. 52.0 52.1 Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  53. 53.0 53.1 Zimmer & Organ (1999:155)
  54. Bamgboṣe (1969:166)
  55. Vanvik (1979:13)