From: "Paul Bennett"


> > Would this be the IPA sign that kinda sorta looks like a gamma with a
> > in it? If so, Shanghainese and Taiwanese have it, and I thinks it's
> > neat sound. Alas, it doesn't really jibe with the Géarthnuns phonetic
> > inventory.
> I'd guess that he means what the 1989 IPA has as (what looks like a)
> smallcap-theta, standing for a rounded mid-central vowel (although this
> symbol is used slightly differently in the 1993 IPA).  The 'baby gamma' or
> 'rams horns' symbol I think you're describing is used in both versions of
> the IPA as an unrounded /o/ and is represented {7} in X-SAMPA.

Alas, none of my resources seem to be using the same symbol. Rummaging
around Don Blaheta's site, it seems that you're right; barred o (Kirshenbaum
[log in to unmask]) would seem to be the sound I'm thinking of. Still, my Shanghainese
dictionary uses baby gamma for this sound. Adding further to the confusion,
Ramsey, in his book "The Languages of China", uses a schwa with an umalut on
it. He describes the sound this way:
"The central vowel @" is very unusual; it is pronounced with the tongue
bunched up in the center of the mouth, but how articulation differs from
that of schwa (@) is uncertain. The acoustic impression is that it has
rounding of some kind."
My Taiwanese dictionary goes so far as to use the schwa in its romanization
scheme, but says the IPA symbol for this sound is /o/.
Anyway, for me, after a little practice, the sound is easy to produce but a
bear to describe. And if the IPA is going to move the down markers every
couple of years, then I'll surely have a time keeping up.