First post here, so hope I do it right. I'm trying to nail down the basics of a phonetic inventory for my language. I'm not interested in doing more than creating a chart/alphabet sort of thing with a couple of allophones, specifically for the stressed vowels. How do you pick which sound to use to represent a vowel when that language doesn't distinguish between three extremely similar sounds on the chart? I just listened to all the "e" and "a" sounds on the IPA vowel chart and have no idea which one is most accurate. If it's basically all the way from e to ɛ for the standard e sound but it gets retracted/stressed to a specific sound, then how do I treat that? Do I need to break out the entire set of allophones or do I just pick one or what? Second question: if I can't find a sound on the vowel chart that actually sounds just like the retracted i, should I just mark it with a retracted diacritic and not keep trying? Wikipedia and a helpful person on an internet board pointed me in the direction of retracted vowels and a, for example, retracts neatly to ɑ, as predicted by Wikipedia. But i does not retract to ɪ. It retains its i sound, but my tongue does retract and it does sound a little different when I pronounce it. Can't tell where it fits on the vowel chart though.