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The rounded low-mid back vowel /ɔ/
quickinfo

The rounded low-mid back B-class vowel/ɔ/ is found in words such as:

Example 1

a. zot /zɔt/ crazy
b. rond /rɔnd/ [rɔnt] round
c. vol /vɔl/ full

It is invariably spelled with a single letter <o>.

Figure 1(cf. Gussenhoven 1992) depicts the (Dutch) vowel's position within the vowel chart.

Figure 1: Vowel chart

[click image to enlarge]

Articulation
/ɔ/ is a rounded, low-mid, back, B-class vowel. The tongue body is somewhat raised and retracted (Collins and Mees 2003; Eijkman 1937). /ɔ/ is nasalised before nasal consonants, and raised and centralised before velars (Collins and Mees 2003). /ɔ/ is lengthened and centralised before /r/.

Duration
/ɔ/ is phonetically short (Adank et al. 2004), but lengthened before /r/. Absolute duration varies with the type of speech and speaking rate, but reported average durations have ranged from 90 ms (Adank et al. 2004) to 105 ms (Rietveld et al. 2004), both in elicited read speech.

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[+] Acoustic properties of /ɔ/

Formant values vary with the type of speech, gender of the speaker, and speech community (the Netherlands or Flanders). Below are some reported average F1/F2 values.


Table 1
F1 mixed female male
Netherlands 470 578 523
426 419 538
402
Flanders 463 475 398
450

Table 2
F2 mixed female male
Netherlands 865 933 866
861 918 928
821
Flanders 868 987 850
900

Examples

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /ɔ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
die Amerikanen zijn zotthese Americans are crazy pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
hij schuift aan in de kringen, kijkt rond (...)he pulls up in the circles, looks around pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
vol wonderlijke dingenfull of miraculous things pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]

Table 4: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /ɔ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
ga weg, oude zotgo away, old fool pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
de groeven rond zijn mondhoekenthe furrows around the corners of his mouth pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
(...) het staat er vol ski's(...) it's full of skis there pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]

[+] Phonological analysis of /ɔ/

Features
A possible feature specification of  /ɔ/ is -high, -low, -tense, +round, +back.

/ɔ/ as a B-class vowel
The vowel alternates with /o/ in some singular-plural paradigms such as in 2a and 2b or the diminutive form as in 2c respectively:

Example 2

a. lot [lɔt] lottery ticket
b. loten [lotən] lottery tickets
c. lootje [lotjə] lottery ticket (DIM)

This process is not productive in modern Dutch, and usually seen as a remnant of a process of Open Syllable Lengthening in older stages of Dutch. It is also assumed that the /ɔ/ is the original vowel in these cases (or the underlying one). In some phonological analyses, the difference between /ɔ/ and /o/ is assumed to be one of length rather than tenseness also for this reason; in that case one would for instance assign the feature-longto /ɔ/.

Another possible reason for seeing /ɔ/ and /o/ as alternants is that /o/ is produced as something like a long /ɔː/ before /r/ and /l// (Botma et al. 2012).

References:
  • Adank, Patti, Hout, Roeland van & Smits, Roel2004An acoustic description of the vowels of Northern and Southern Standard DutchJournal of the Acoustical Society of America1161729--1738
  • Adank, Patti, Hout, Roeland van & Smits, Roel2004An acoustic description of the vowels of Northern and Southern Standard DutchJournal of the Acoustical Society of America1161729--1738
  • Botma, E.D., Sebregts, K. & Smakman, D2012The phonetics and phonology of Dutch mid vowels before /l/Laboratory Phonology3273-298
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Eijkman, L.P.H1937Phonetiek van het NederlandsHaarlemDe Erven F. Bohn N.V.
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1992DutchJournal of the International Phonetic Association2245-47
  • Rietveld, Toni, Kerkhoff, Joop & Gussenhoven, Carlos2004Word prosodic structure and vowel duration in DutchJournal of Phonetics32349-371
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