Is there any symbol to represent a vowel? Is there any symbol to represent a constant?

For example "bog", "bat" and "bag" can be represented by b[v][c] or b✦✧.

Udate: In a paper I want to describe how pronunciation of words are changed in Persian according to word that are before or after them. It depends on the initial letter of adjacent words, that is a vowel or a constant. I want to show some patterns, using a symbol for vowel and another one for constant. They will act like variables in mathematics.

  • 2
    Could you add more details about what you want to know? What do you mean by "unknown vowel"? That you can't identify it in a recording or something like that? Also, what kind of representation are you looking for? IPA?
    – edominic
    Feb 23, 2013 at 11:16
  • What about a capitalised V? Could be mistaken for some kind of archiphonemic notation though. Feb 23, 2013 at 12:21
  • @KleinePrins The question is updated. Feb 23, 2013 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


In principle I would suggest using capital C for consonants and capital V for vowels. This is the way syllable templates are discussed in phonology texts. Brackets are used for phonetic transcription, so [v] refers to the particular consonant called voiced labiodental fricative. Perhaps you could use something like b(V)(C) or bVC, but of course you should explain your notation clearly.

  • 2
    I agree with you that bVC would be the way to go, but the notation in brackets would suggest, to me, that they are optional vowel/consonant slots. But anything can be clarified in a footnote :) Feb 23, 2013 at 14:07
  • @DangerFourpence I was just being picky because brackets for me are enclosing the representation of what is really happening with sounds, like in [kæt]. Another option is curly brackets, which is also related to phonology: b{VC} or something like that.
    – edominic
    Feb 23, 2013 at 14:28
  • @KleinePrins What is your idea about non alphabetical symbols like squares or circle or even non-Latin alphabet? Feb 23, 2013 at 17:41
  • @PHPst Well, I don't know why you would need characters other than those in IPA or simply V and C for templates. Of course, you can try to provide a particular notation and explain very carefully why it needs to be the way you propose it.
    – edominic
    Feb 24, 2013 at 8:38
  • @Danger when you say "brackets" do you mean [ ] or ( )? (In American English we usually call the former "brackets" and the latter "parentheses", but I believe the latter are "brackets" in British English.) I agree that [ ] should be avoided because of their canonical use for phonetic transcription. It's also true that ( ) are widely used to indicate optionality. For example, in a discussion of syllable types, CV(C) usually indicates a syllable with an onset consonant, a nuclear vowel, and an optional coda consonant. Jul 16, 2013 at 14:16

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