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I really can't tell the difference between these two. At first I thought that ɐ was something similar to ə, but I'm not sure. I'd appreciate any examples to distinguish these sounds

5

You can listen to expert IPA pronunciations of the difference here. "Examples" would come from a specific language. As you can see from the Wiki article on the vowel, it is widely transcribed as [ə], but maybe [a]. It does not apparently contrast with [ə] in one language, but may be found in certain dialects instead of [ə]. It may also be conflated with [ɜ]. It is most useful to compare the performance pronunciations of the above-linked experts, since IPA does not specify particular formant values or lexical items in specific languages as representing the value of a given symbol.

If you go to Forvo, you can get over a half million pronunciations of German words. There is a difference between er and e at the end of the word, where final er may be [ɐ]. I don't know of a way to efficiently assemble all of the relevant words, but this is a resource for potentially hearing examples (I'd generally suggest listening to anything with final r). It might be best to pick a single speaker and listen to their pronunciations. Sometimes speakers differ, and you can pick a speaker who has the pronunciation of interest like the first one, and see what similar words there are. Some words are attested with multiple recordings.

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  • 1
    What does this part mean: "It does not apparently contrast with [ə] in one language"? My understanding was that some varieties of German do have a contrast between a phone commonly transcribed [ə] and another phone commonly transcribed [ɐ], e.g. in "eine" [ˈaɪnə] vs. "einer" [ˈaɪnɐ]... Jan 15 '18 at 21:08
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    ...although the phonetic details and phonological analysis are not so obvious (German [ə] is typically considered to be an allophone of /ɛ/ in unstressed syllables, and I have heard that in some accents of German, the sound typically transcribed [ə] is in fact closer in quality to [ɛ]; furthermore, I have heard that some native German speakers find that [ɐ] doesn't really sound distinct from German short "a", although this could be because they actually use a not-fully-open quality for "short a") Jan 15 '18 at 21:09
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    I don't know about that variety of German. If these are indeed phonologically distinct as vowel quality, then it would mean that I have to invoke the "apparently" escape, and say "except in German" if it can be established. I'm really not clear what the status of those r's are.
    – user6726
    Jan 15 '18 at 22:19
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    Hmm, I thought it was a fairly well-known variety since I see that style of transcription a lot in materials for learners. E.g. this word-reference thread: Pronunciation: -er = -ɐ? and this book German Phonetics and Phonology: Theory and Practice (By Mary Grantham O'Brien, Sarah M. B. Fagan). Jan 15 '18 at 22:23
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    I forgot to mention, [ɐ] is also (often, at least) not considered a phoneme of German: it can be analyzed as /əʁ/ or /ɛʁ/. And actually, what I said earlier about [ə] being analyzed as an allophone of /ɛ/ doesn't actually seem to be done by all phonological analyses, although I don't know why not: users.monash.edu.au/~ewilkins/textbook/CHAP12.PDF Jan 15 '18 at 22:24

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