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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]
bol ball; bulb bol soft, pulpy
flok flock; flake flok curse
hok shed hok which
kop head kop cup, mug
lok lock, tress lok happiness, well-being
rop(pe) to tear, to wrench rop(pe) to call, to shout
skol shallow skol plaice
sok sock sok such
ban ban, sentence bon voucher; ticket
fal fall fol full
galle bile, gall golle storage for hay or corn in a barn
kalk limestone kolk cesspit
kant edge, side kont bottom, behind
task pile (of stones) tosk tooth; 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]ffer suitcase
v[ɔ]lgen f[o]lgje to follow
v[ɔ]lk f[o]lk people
d[ɔ]lk d[o]lk dagger
een k[ɔ]p(je) k[ɔ]ffie in k[o]p(ke) k[o]fje a cup of coffee
v[ɔ]s f[o]ks fox