Close central unrounded vowel

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Close central unrounded vowel
IPA Number317
Entity (decimal)ɨ
Unicode (hex)U+0268
Braille⠴ (braille pattern dots-356)⠊ (braille pattern dots-24)
Audio sample

The close central unrounded vowel, or high central unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɨ, namely the lower-case letter i with a horizontal bar. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as barred i.

Occasionally, this vowel is transcribed ⟨ï⟩ (centralizedi⟩) or ⟨ɯ̈⟩ (centralized ⟨ɯ⟩).[2]

The close central unrounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the rare post-palatal approximant [j̈].[3]



/ɨ/ is uncommon as a phoneme in Indo-European languages, occurring most commonly as an allophone in some Slavic languages, such as Russian. However, it is very common as a separate phoneme in the indigenous languages of the Americas and is often in phonemic contrast with other close vowels such as /i/ and /u/ both in modern living languages as well as reconstructed proto-languages (such as Proto-Uto-Aztecan). Campbell, Kaufman & Smith-Stark (1986) identify the presence of this vowel phoneme as an areal feature of a Mesoamerican Sprachbund (although that is not a defining feature of the entire area).

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese tupeue [tupɨə] 'to know' Asyik[4] and Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi[5] describe this sound as such while Durie[6] describes it as closer to [ɯ]
Angami Khonoma[7] prü [pɻɨ˨] 'hail stone' The height varies between close [ɨ] and mid [ə].[7] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə⟩.
Arhuaco ikʉ [ɪk'ɨ] 'Arhuaco language'
Chinese Mandarin chī () [tʂʰɨ˥] 'to eat'
English Southeastern English[8] rude [ɹɨːd] 'rude' May be rounded [ʉː], or a diphthong [ʊʉ̯~əʉ̯] instead.
General American[9] chicken [tʃɪkɨn] 'chicken'
Guaraní[10] yvy [ɨʋɨ] 'earth'
Hausa[11] [example needed] Allophone of /i/.[11]
Irish Munster[12] caora [kɨːɾˠə] 'sheep' Allophone of /i/ between broad consonants.[12] See Irish phonology
Kalagan[13] [pɨˈnɨt̪] 'beard'
Kashmiri[14] teer [ˈt̪ɨːr] 'cold'
Kera[15] [ɡɨ̀ɡɨ̀r] 'knee'
Latgalian[16] dyžan [ˈd̪ɨʒän̪] 'very much' See Latgalian phonology
Mongolian[17] хүчир [xutʃʰɨɾɘ̆] 'difficult'
Mono[18] dɨ [dɨ] 'count'
Paicî[19] [example needed] May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɯ⟩.
Romanian[20] înot [ɨˈn̪o̞t̪] 'I swim' See Romanian phonology
Russian[21] ты About this sound[t̪ɨ] 'you' (singular) Occurs only after unpalatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sahaptin[22] [kʼsɨt] 'cold' Epenthetic. No lengthened equivalent
Sema[23] sü [ʃɨ̀] 'to hurt' Also described as near-close [ɨ̞].[24]
Shipibo[25] tenaitianronki [ˈt̪ɨnɐi̞ti̞ɐ̃ɽõ̞ɣi̞] [translation needed] Possible realization of /ɯ/ after coronal consonants.[25]
Sirionó[26] [eˈsɨ] 'dry wood'
Swedish Bohuslän[27] bli [blɨᶻː] 'to become' A fricated vowel that corresponds to [] in Central Standard Swedish.[27] See Swedish phonology
Tajik Bukharan[28] ғижғиж [ʁɨʑʁɨʑ] 'the sound of
wood sawing'
Allophone of /i/ in the environment of uvular consonants.[28]
Tamil[29] வால் [väːlɨ] 'tail' Epenthetic vowel inserted in colloquial speech after word-final liquids; can be rounded [ʉ] instead.[29] See Tamil phonology
Tera[30] zu [zɨ] 'said'
Turkish Standard[31] sığ [sɨː] 'shallow' Also described as close back [ɯ][32] and near-close near-back [ɯ̽][33] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɯ⟩. See Turkish phonology
Balkans[34] [example needed] Word-final merger of standard Turkish sounds /i/ and /ɯ/, shift of /y/ and /u/ into single phoneme due to interactions caused by Balkan sprachbund. Dombrowski[34] transcribes this phoneme as /i/.
Udmurt[35] ургетэ, ыргетэ[36] [ɨrgete] 'it growls'
Welsh Northern dialects[37] llun [ɬɨːn] 'picture' See Welsh phonology
Yaeyama pïtu [pɨtu] 'person'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[38] nɨ [nɨ] 'be sour'

The sound of Polish ⟨y⟩ is often represented as /ɨ/, but actually it is a close-mid advanced central unrounded vowel, more narrowly transcribed [ɘ̟].[39] Similarly, European Portuguese unstressed ⟨e⟩, often represented as /ɨ/, is actually a near-close near-back unrounded vowel,[40] more narrowly transcribed using ad hoc symbols such as [ɯ̽] (mid-centralized), [ɯ̟] (fronted) and [ʊ̜] (less rounded i.e. unrounded)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ See e.g. Gimson (2014:133), who transcribes the unrounded central realization of the English GOOSE vowel /uː/ with the symbol [ɯ̈ː].
  3. ^ Instead of "post-palatal", it can be called "retracted palatal", "backed palatal", "palato-velar", "pre-velar", "advanced velar", "fronted velar" or "front-velar".
  4. ^ Asyik, Abdul Gani (1982), "The agreement system in Acehnese" (PDF), Mon-Khmer Studies, 11: 1–33, archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2013, retrieved 9 November 2012
  5. ^ Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi, Awwad Ahmad (2003), "Acehnese coda condition: An optimality-theoretic account", Umm Al-Qura University Journal of Educational and Social Sciences and Humanities, 15: 9–21, archived from the original on 2009-07-29, retrieved 2009-03-06
  6. ^ Mid-vowels in Acehnese Archived 2010-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  8. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 174.
  9. ^ Akmajian, Adrian (2010). Linguistics An Introduction to Language and Communication. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-262-51370-8.
  10. ^ "Phonological inventory of Paraguayan Guarani". South American Phonological Inventory Database. Berkeley: University of California. 2015.
  11. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  12. ^ a b Ó Sé (2000), p. ?.
  13. ^ Wendel & Wendel (1978), p. 198.
  14. ^ "Koshur: Spoken Kashmiri: A Language Course: Transcription". Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  15. ^ Pearce (2011), p. 251.
  16. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 9–10.
  17. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 62, 66–67.
  18. ^ Olson (2004), p. 235.
  19. ^ Gordon & Maddieson (1996), p. 118.
  20. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  21. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 33.
  22. ^ Hargus & Beavert (2002).
  23. ^ Teo (2014), p. 28.
  24. ^ Teo (2012), p. 368.
  25. ^ a b Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  26. ^ Firestone (1965), p. ?.
  27. ^ a b c Riad (2014), p. 21.
  28. ^ a b Ido (2014), p. 91.
  29. ^ a b Keane (2004), p. 114.
  30. ^ Tench (2007), p. 230.
  31. ^ Zimmer & Organ (1999:155)
  32. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  33. ^ Kılıç & Öğüt (2004)
  34. ^ a b Dombrowski, Andrew. "Vowel Harmony Loss in West Rumelian Turkish".
  35. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 64, 68.
  36. ^ ургетыны [Udmurt-Russian dictionary] (in Russian)
  37. ^ Ball (1984), p. ?.
  38. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 109.
  39. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  40. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.


External links[edit]