Skip to Content

Department of Linguistics

Important: If you have not yet either installed the phonetic font "Charis SIL" or tested this installation to determine if the phonetic characters installed properly then click here to go to the phonetic font help pages.

Australian English Vowel Symbols

The Australian English vowel symbols used throughout this site are those recommended by Harrington, Cox and Evans (1996). These symbols develop the proposals of Clark (1989) who strongly argued for the replacement of those used by Mitchell (1946) and Mitchell & Delbridge (1965a, 1965b) and still persisting in the Macquarie Dictionary. The Mitchell symbols, it was argued, much more closely resemble the way that English is pronounced in urban south east England. The Clark system takes a narrow transcription of the vowels of an average speaker of General Aus.E. utilising Bernard's (Bernard, 1970; Bernard and Mannell, 1986) data and uses that narrow transcription as the phonemic representation for the vowels of Aus.E. generally. Harrington et al (1996) carried out a subsequent acoustic analysis of Australian English on more recent data, and from a larger number of phonetic contexts, and this prompted them to modify the Clark proposal. Additionally, they substituted the symbol "", with the equivalent, but IPA-approved, symbol "ɐ". To assist the reader unfamiliar with Aus.E., table 1 has been included. This table displays Harrington's and Clark's vowel notations next to that of Mitchell, as well as a set of sample words containing each phoneme.


Mitchell (1946)
(Macquarie
Dictionary)
Clark (1988)
Harrington et al (1996)
ANDOSL
(Computer
readable)
Example word
i
i:
"heed"
ɪ
ɪ
ɪ
I
"hid"
ɛ
e
e
E
"head"
æ
æ
æ
A
"had"
a
ː
ɐː
a:
"hard"
ʌ
ɐ
V
"hut"
ɒ
ɔ
ɔ
O
"hot"
ɔ
o:
"hoard"
ʊ
ʊ
ʊ
U
"hood"
u
ʉː
ʉː
u:
"hoot"
ɜ
ɜː
ɜː
@:
"heard"
æe
æɪ
ei
"hate"
e
ɑe
ai
"hide"
æɔ
æɔ
au
"howl"
əʉ
əʉ
@u
"hope"
ɔɪ
ɔɪ
oi
"hoist"
ɪə
ɪə
ɪə
i@
"hear"
ɛə
e:
"hair"
ʊə
ʊə
ʊə
u@
"tour"

Table 1: Mitchell's (1946), Clark's (1988), and Harrington's et al (1996) Australian English vowel notations. The Harrington system is the one used on this web site. Also included are a set of ASCII symbols for Australian English used by the SHLRC speech database annotation package EMU and on the Australian National Database of Spoken English (ANDOSL) (Harrington et al., 1993). The ANDOSL symbols may be encountered on other parts of this web site.

References

Bernard, J.R. (1970) "Toward the acoustic specification of Australian English", Zeitschrift fur Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung, Band 23, Heft 2/3

Bernard, J.R. and Mannell, R.H. (1986) "A study /h_d/ words in Australian English", Working Papers of the Speech, Hearing and Language Research Centre, Macquarie University

Clark, J.E. (1989) "Some proposals for a revised phonetic transcription of Australian English" in Collins, P. & Blair, D. (eds) Australian English: The Language of a New Society, Univ. Queensland Press.

Harrington, J., Cox, F., & Evans, Z. (1996) "An acoustic study of broad, general and cultivated Australian English vowels", Australian Journal of Linguistics.

Mitchell, A.G. (1946) The Pronunciation of English in Australia, Angus and Robertson.

Mitchell, A.G., & Delbridge, A. (revised edition, 1965(a)) The Pronunciation of English in Australia, Angus and Robertson.