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English vowel chart

I needed to find an online vowel chart for English, but I couldn’t find one I liked, so I made one myself. Here it is: English vowel chart

miniature of vowel chart


16 Comments so far ↓

  • AmE | IPA

    Thanks for the chart, very nice indeed. Regarding General American pronunciation and using the IPA system, is LDCE the most accurate dictionary out there?

    • Tom

      Yes, I believe so.

      • Openness of ɑ and ɒ

        Just checked a LDCE for Advanced Learners and it uses /e/ for bed instead of the correct /ɛ/.

        One more thing, the chart distinguishes the openness of /ɑ/ and /ɒ/ by placing /ɒ/ higher with respect to /ɑ/, why is that? According to Wikipedia both have the same level of openness.

    • Tom

      The whole idea of the chart is that it shows the position of ENGLISH vowels, not cardinal vowels.

      • Openness of ɑ and ɒ

        Are you saying that the English ɒ is not exactly the same as the cardinal vowel ɒ? My understanding is that English features both cardinals ɑ and ɒ, and both are the same except that ɒ rounds the lips. Being that the case, ɑ and ɒ should be at the same horizontal level, otherwise I would think that ɒ is near-open rather than open according to the chart.

        Please correct me if I am wrong or missing something.

      • Tom

        In BrE, /ɒ/ (hot) is certainly not cardinal. In AmE, /ɒ:/ (law) can be pronounced in a variety of ways, but usually closer to /ɒ:/ than /ɔ:/. If I were making a chart for AmE only, I would put it a bit lower. I didn’t want to overcomplicate the chart by placing separate markers for British and American /ɒ/. They would have to be very close to each other.

        There are other compromises like this in the chart.

        In the end, a chart will never tell you what your ears will. If you want to know exactly how Americans pronounce /ɒ:/, listen to Americans instead of studying charts.

        BTW, discussions at this level of detail quickly become pointless, as there is no universally-agreed-upon definition of cardinal vowels. Just listen to these three recordings of /ɒ/ by three eminent phoneticians (Wells, Samsaran, Ladefoged). Do they sound the same to you?

  • Openness of ɑ and ɒ

    You are right. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

  • Javi

    An interesting and useful chart.

    When you say the vowel is “more closed”, shouldn’t you say the vowel is “closer”. As far as I know, “close” refers to the fact that the tongue rises towards the hard palate, thus getting closer to it.

    Are both terms used interchangeably ?

  • Someone

    Tom, what other words like “law” are pronounced with ɔ in AmE?

  • Someone

    Thank you, Tom. It seems that /ɔ/ is used before ‘r’, e.g. “door”, “four”; /ɒ/ is used in all other words.

    The following article about the Cot–caught merger is also interesting:

  • Nyla Port

    Thank you very much for posting this good content! I am looking forward to checking out more!

  • aya ibrahim ahmed

    Thank you very much for your effort .really this chart helps me a lot in under standing vowels.

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