The open-mid front rounded vowel, or low-mid front rounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically, it is an open-mid front-central rounded vowel.[2] 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 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.


IPA: Vowels
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded

  • 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.


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

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[3] Seil [sœ̠ː] 'rope' Near-front; may be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɶ⟩.[3]
Northern[4] I helfad [i ˈhœlʲfɐd̥] 'I'd help' Allophone of /ɛ/ before /l/.[4]
Breton All speakers[5] [example needed] Short counterpart of /øː/.[6] May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ø⟩.
Bas-Léon[6] [example needed] 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]
Danish Standard[7][8] gøre [ˈɡ̊œ̠ːɐ] 'to do' Near-front;[7] 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⟩.[8] See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard[9][10] manoeuvre About this sound [maˈnœ̠ːvrə] 'manoeuvre' Near-front; occurs only in a few loanwords.[9][10] See Dutch phonology
Some southern accents[11] hut [ɦœt] 'hut' Also used by certain speakers of the Standard Northern accent; the prestigious realization is close-mid [ʏ̞ ~ ɵ].[12][13] See Dutch phonology
The Hague dialect[14] uit [œːt] 'out' Corresponds to [œy] in standard Dutch.[15] See Dutch phonology
English Cockney[16] bird [bœ̠ːd] 'bird' Near-front.[16] May as well be unrounded [ɜ̟ː], or the RP variant /ɜː/.
New Zealand[17] Near-front;[17] may be [ɵ̟ː] or [ø̞̈ː] instead. See New Zealand English phonology
Southern Welsh[18] Near-front;[18] also described as mid [œ̝̈][19][20] and close-mid [øː].[21]
South African[22]
go [ɡœː] 'go' Some speakers. Can be a diphthong of the type [œʉ̯]~[œɘ̯] instead. Other South African varieties don't monophthongize. See South African English phonology
Faroese[23] høgt [hœkt] 'high' See Faroese phonology
French[24][25] jeune [ʒœn] 'young' See French phonology
German Standard[26][27] Hölle [ˈhœ̠lə] 'hell' Near-front.[26][27] See Standard German phonology
Some dialects[28][29] [example needed] Used by some dialect speakers in cognates of Standard German words.[28][29]
Western Swiss accents[30] schön [ʃœːn] 'beautiful' Close-mid [øː] in other accents.[31] See Standard German phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[32] lui [lœ̠́ː] 'lazy' Allophone of /œy/ in words with Accent 2. More often a slight diphthong.[32]
Many dialects[33][34][35] mèù [mœ̠ː] 'sleeve' Near-front.[33][34][35] The example word is from the Hasselt dialect.
Low German[36] söss / zös [zœs] 'six'
Luxembourgish[37] Interieur [ˈɛ̃ːtə̹ʀiœːʀ] 'interior' Occurs only in loanwords.[37] See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Arendalsk[38] torn [²tʰœːnə] 'thorn' Phonetic realization of the sequence /ʉʀ/; may be an opening diphthong [ʉæ̯] instead.[38] See Norwegian phonology
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[39] mölle [ˈmœlə] [translation needed]
Saterland Frisian[40][41] bölkje [ˈbœ̠lkjə] 'to rear' Near-front.[41]
West Frisian Hindeloopers[42] [example needed] See West Frisian phonology
Súdwesthoeksk[42][43] skoalle [ˈskœlə] 'school'

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 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, 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].



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Norwegian Urban East[44][45] nøtt [nœ̫tː] 'nut' Described variously as open-mid near-front [œ̠],[44][45] ranging from open-mid near-front [œ̠] to mid near-front [ø̽][46] and mid central [ə].[47] See Norwegian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[48][49][50] öra About this sound [²œ̫ːra̠]  'ear' Allophone of /œ/ and most often also /øː/ before /r/.[48][49][50] May be more open [ɶ, ɶː] for younger speakers from Stockholm.[50] See Swedish phonology
Younger Stockholm speakers[50] 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. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  3. ^ a b Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  4. ^ a b Rowley (1990), p. 422.
  5. ^ Ternes (1992), p. 433.
  6. ^ a b c Ternes (1992), pp. 431, 433.
  7. ^ a b Grønnum (1998), p. 100.
  8. ^ a b 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 (...)."
  9. ^ a b Gussenhoven (1999), p. 76.
  10. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 137.
  11. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 131.
  12. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 128, 131.
  13. ^ van Heuven & Genet (2002), cited in Gussenhoven (2007:10)
  14. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 136.
  15. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 135–136.
  16. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 305.
  17. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 188.
  18. ^ a b Penhallurick (2004), p. 104.
  19. ^ Collins & Mees (1990), p. 95.
  20. ^ Wells (1982), p. 381.
  21. ^ Connolly (1990), p. 125.
  22. ^ Lass (2002), p. 118.
  23. ^ Árnason (2011), pp. 68, 75.
  24. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  25. ^ Collins & Mees (2013), p. 225.
  26. ^ a b Hall (2003), pp. 97, 107.
  27. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2013), p. 235.
  28. ^ a b Green (1990), p. 245.
  29. ^ a b Khan & Weise (2013), p. 238.
  30. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 65.
  31. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), pp. 34, 65.
  32. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), pp. 161–162.
  33. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 159.
  34. ^ a b Peters (2006), p. 119.
  35. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007), p. 221.
  36. ^ Prehn (2012), p. 157.
  37. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 72.
  38. ^ a b Kristoffersen (2000), p. 36.
  39. ^ Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997), p. 16.
  40. ^ Fort (2001), p. 411.
  41. ^ a b Peters (2017), p. ?.
  42. ^ a b van der Veen (2001), p. 102.
  43. ^ Hoekstra (2001), p. 83.
  44. ^ a b Vanvik (1979), pp. 13, 20.
  45. ^ a b Popperwell (2010), pp. 35-36.
  46. ^ Strandskogen (1979), p. 23.
  47. ^ Kristoffersen (2000), pp. 16-17.
  48. ^ a b Eliasson (1986), p. 273.
  49. ^ a b Thorén & Petterson (1992), pp. 13–14.
  50. ^ a b c d Riad (2014), p. 38.