Aesc (phonetic)

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For a note on how AWE organizes its group of articles on vowels, basically by aspects of sound and of writing, see category:vowels.


The symbol /æ/ ('aesc') is used in the International Phonetic alphabet to represent a 'near-open front unrounded vowel' - the sound, in the RP pronunciation of British English, of such words as 'can', 'fat', 'am' and 'at'. This is the sound usually described as a short a (a vowel intermediate between /a/ and /ɛ/).

This sound is nearly always represented in written English by the letter -a-'. The (rare) exceptions include 'salmon', 'plait', 'plaid', where the letter '-a-' is reinforced by another letter, and 'meringue', where the spelling and pronunciation are essentially French.

In Old and Middle English, and in some current Scandinavian languages, the sound is still represented by the symbol æ or Æ (see also Æ). In current English print, it will sometimes be reproduced as the separate letters '-a-' and '-e-' by printers whose fonts don't include the ligature, as in 'Aelfred the Great' to represent the original Old English Ælfred
Much of the information on this page has been taken from McArthur and Bell (2004).