I was reading the Wikipedia page for vietnamese phonology and in the vowel chart, it says "/iə̯/ ⟨ia~iê⟩ /ɨə̯/ ⟨ưa~ươ⟩ /uə̯/ ⟨ua~uô⟩. What do the tildes mean?


1 Answer 1


A tilde generally indicates alternation or variation: "all of these options are possible and acceptable". In angle brackets, it indicates variation in spelling. So, ⟨ưa⟩ and ⟨ươ⟩ are both possible spellings of /ɨə̯/.

  • Isn't that what a comma represents? Aug 26, 2023 at 0:33
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    @Flagsiscool — Note that your question wasn't about a comma. A zillion other symbols can represent the idea of “or”, like three or two dots, or a slash, or whatever, but a tilde ~ does really represent that idea, too. Please, don't blame us, it wasn't we who wrote that Wiki article.
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 26, 2023 at 1:38
  • If a comma is used inside slashes or square brackets, as in [x, y], it means "[x] and [y] separately", whereas "[x~y]" means "varies between [x] and [y]".
    – Nardog
    Aug 26, 2023 at 6:05
  • @Nardog Do you have a reference for that? Couldn't spot it at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Pronunciation or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA but it sounds like the kind of thing that ought to be mentioned in one of those? Aug 30, 2023 at 18:27

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