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Characterization of the short monophthongs

The nine short monophthongs — and, to a lesser extent, schwa as well — are the building blocks of the vocalic system as a whole, which, in addition to monophthongs, also consists of complex vocalic sequences. The monophthongs can be distinguished from each other in terms of three dimensions:

  1. the degree of opening of the vocal tract: open, half open, half close or close;
  2. the form of the lips: spread or rounded;
  3. the position of the tongue: front, central or back.
This yields the picture below:

Table 1: The monophthongs of Frisian
front central back
close i spread
y u rounded
half close I spread
ø o rounded
half open ɛ spread
(ʌ) ɔ rounded
open a

There are monophthongs which deserve some comment; see the following topics: