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The rounded high-mid front-central vowel /ø/
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The rounded, high-mid, front-central A-class vowel/ø/ is found in words such as:

Example 1

a. sneu /snø/ bad luck
b. heuvel /hø.vəl/ [ˈhøvəl] hill
c. pineut /pi.nøt/ [piˈnøt] dupe
d. kleur /klør/ colour

It is invariably spelled with the letters <eu>.

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

Figure 1: Vowel chart

[click image to enlarge]

Articulation
/ø/ is a rounded, high-mid, front, A-class vowel (Collins and Mees 2003). The tongue body is fronted and raised, but less so than for /i/, the tongue tip is down. The lips are rounded. There is a relatively large front cavity (decreased in terms of jaw opening, but increased due to pursing of the lips) (Eijkman 1937).

Duration
/ø/ is phonetically long, though shorter than /a/ and the true diphthongs (Adank et al. 2004). It is lengthened before /r/. Absolute duration varies with the type of speech and speaking rate, but reported average durations have ranged from 79 ms in spontaneous speech (Jacobi 2009) to 184 ms in elicited read speech (Adank et al. 2004).

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[+] Acoustic properties of /ø/

In the Netherlands, the quality of the initial element of /ø/ before /r/, produced as a centring diphthong, may be close to [ʏ](Collins and Mees 2003). 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. Where the table shows only one measurement, this was taken from the midpoint of the vowel; where two measurements are reported, these are taken from the onset and offset of the vowels, showing the diphthongal quality of the NL vowels, especially.


Table 1
F1 mixed female male
Netherlands 454-357 476 443
445 406
375
Flanders 394-376 439 374

Table 2
F2 mixed female male
Netherlands 1656-1696 1690 1497
1713 1650
1563
Flanders 1744-1770 1804 1539

Differences between NSD and BSD
In the Netherlands, /ø/ is a narrow closing diphthong [øy], except before /r/ in the same word, where it has a centring glide [øə] (Gussenhoven 1992), and before /l/, where it is retracted (Botma et al. 2012). In Belgian Standard Dutch, /ø/ is a monophthong (Verhoeven 2005).

Examples

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /ø/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
we zijn het beuwe are sick of it word-final
[click image to enlarge]
niet dat ie een keus hadnot that he had a choice pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
nog steeds geven beide invloeden het leven kleurstill both influences bring colour to life 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 /ø/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
die is dat beuhe/she is sick of it word-final
[click image to enlarge]
omdat ik geen keus hebbecause I don't have a choice pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
(...) een onverwachte kleur haar (...)a not expected colour her (...) pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]

[+] Phonological analysis of /ø/

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

/ø/ as an A-class vowel
/ø/ is most profitably seen as an A-class vowel and as an alternant of the B-class vowel [ʏ] (see The phonology of /ʏ/).

Interaction with glides
When followed by another vowel, /ø/ can be followed by a glide [ʋ] or a glide [j]. In 2b we see that these are inserted in the plural form of 2a:

Example 2

a. reu [røː] bitch, sg.
b. reuën [røjən] [røʋən] bitch, pl.

Behaviour before /r/
When placed before a /r/ consonant, /ø/ colours to an [ʏ]-like segment. When the /r/ occurs in the same foot, the vowel furthermore lengthens to [ʏː] (Gussenhoven 1993).

Phonotactics
Like other A-class vowels /ø/ can occur at the end of a syllable; and like other A-class vowels /ø/ does not occur before two non-coronal consonants.

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
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1992DutchJournal of the International Phonetic Association2245-47
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1993The Dutch foot and the chanted callJournal of Linguistics2937-63
  • Jacobi, Irene2009On Variation and Change in Diphthongs and Long Vowels of Spoken DutchUniversity of AmsterdamThesis
  • Verhoeven, Jo2005Belgian Standard DutchJournal of the International Phonetic Association35243-247
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