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/o/ and /ɔ/

This section deals with the vowels /o/ and /ɔ/, which have phonemic value in Frisian.


Just like the half open front vowels /ɪ/ and /ɛ/, the back vowels /o/ and /ɔ/ have phonemic value, as appears from the minimal pairs in the table below:

Table 1
[ɔ] [o]
bolball; bulb bolsoft, pulpy
flokflock; flake flokcurse
hokshed hokwhich
kophead kopcup, mug
loklock, tress lokhappiness, well-being
rop(pe)to tear, to wrench rop(pe)to call, to shout
skolshallow skolplaice
soksock soksuch
banban, sentence bonvoucher; ticket
falfall folfull
gallebile, gall gollestorage for hay or corn in a barn
kalklimestone kolkcesspit
kantedge, side kontbottom, behind
taskpile (of stones) tosktooth; tusk
Dutch does not have the short vowel pair /ɔ/ - /o/. That is why speakers of Dutch find it hard to distinguish between short [o] and [ɔ], even if both of them are part of their speech. When they learn to speak Frisian it is also these sounds which cause problems. The table below lists a number of comparable words, but with different o-sounds in both languages:
Table 2
Dutch /ɔ/ Frisian /o/
k[ɔ]ffer k[o]ffersuitcase
v[ɔ]lgen f[o]lgjeto follow
v[ɔ]lk f[o]lkpeople
d[ɔ]lk d[o]lkdagger
een k[ɔ]p(je) k[ɔ]ffie in k[o]p(ke) k[o]fjea cup of coffee
v[ɔ]s f[o]ksfox

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