Up to now, a thorough phonetic-acoustic and phonological description of the vowels and the vowel system of Standard Austrian German has not been provided.


Approximately 11,000 vowels of three female and three male speakers of Standard Austrian German have been segmented and analyzed acoustically.


Standard Austrian German discerns 13 vowels on five constriction locations:

  • pre-palatal for the /i/ and the /y/ vowels
  • mid-palatal for the /e/ and the /ø/ vowels
  • velar for the /u/ vowels
  • upper pharyngeal for the /o/ vowels
  • lower pharyngeal for /ɑ/

Each vowel pair consists of a constricted and an unconstricted vowel. The front vowels (pre-palatal and mid-palatal) additionally distinguish rounded and unrounded vowels. The following articulatory features sufficiently discriminate all vowels:

  • [± constricted]
  • [± front]
  • [± prepalatal]
  • [± pharyngeal]
  • [± round]

Contrary to general assumptions, F1 and F2 do not sufficiently discern the vowels of Standard Austrian German; F3 is necessary as well. Discriminatory ability is maintained over all speaking styles and prosodic positions.