Close central rounded vowel

Close central rounded vowel
IPA number 318
Entity (decimal) ʉ
Unicode (hex) U+0289
Kirshenbaum u"
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The close central rounded vowel, or high central rounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʉ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is }. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "barred u".

The close central rounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the rare labialized post-palatal approximant [ẅ].[2]

In most languages this rounded vowel is pronounced with protruded lips (endolabial). However, in a few cases the lips are compressed (exolabial).

There is also a near-close central rounded vowel in some languages.

Close central protruded vowel

The close central protruded vowel is typically transcribed in IPA simply as ʉ, and that is the convention used in this article. As there is no dedicated diacritic for protrusion in the IPA, symbol for the close central rounded vowel with an old diacritic for labialization,   ̫, can be used as an ad hoc symbol ʉ̫ for the close central protruded vowel. Another possible transcription is ʉʷ or ɨʷ (a close central vowel modified by endolabialization), but this could be misread as a diphthong.


IPA: Vowels
Front Central Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded

  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its roundedness is protruded, which means that the corners of the lips are drawn together, and the inner surfaces exposed.


Note: Because central rounded vowels are assumed to have protrusion, and few descriptions cover the distinction, some of the following may actually have compression.

AngamiKhonoma[3]su[sʉ⁴]'deep'Allophone of /u/ after /s/.[3]
ArmenianSome Eastern dialects[4]յուղ[jʉʁ]'oil'Allophone of /u/ after /j/.
BerberAyt Seghrouchen[5]?[lːæjˈɡːʉɾ]'he goes'Allophone of /u/ after velar consonants.
EnglishAustralian[6]choose[t͡ʃʉːz]'choose'In Australian English it is fronted [ʉ̟ː]. In Cockney and Estuary English it is often a diphthong [ʊʉ̯~əʉ̯]. In Scotland and the Scouse accent it can be more front, while in Geordie it can be more back. The exact length also varies between dialects. See Australian English phonology, English phonology, New Zealand English phonology and South African English phonology
Central Eastern American[7]
Modern RP speakers[10]
New Zealand[11]
Some speakers of Geordie[15]
South African[16]
Southern American[17]
Ulster[18]Long allophone of /u/.[18] See English phonology
GermanChemnitz dialect[19]Buden[ˈpʉːtn̩]'booths'
Hausa[20]Allophone of /u/.[20]
IbibioDialect of the Uruan area and Uyo[21]fuuk[fʉ́ʉk]'cover many things/times'Allophone of /u/ between consonants.[21]
Some dialects[21]Phonemic; contrasts with /u/.[21]
IrishMunster[22]ciúin[cʉ̠ːnʲ]'quiet'Somewhat retracted; allophone of /u/ between slender consonants.[22] See Irish phonology
Ulster[23]úllaí[ʉ̜ɫ̪i]'apples'Often only weakly rounded;[23] may be transcribed in IPA with u.
KurdishSouthern Kurdishmüçig[mʉː't͡ʃɯg]'dust'see Kurdish phonology
Russian[25]кюрий[ˈkʲʉrʲɪj]'curium'Allophone of /u/ between palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Scots[26]buit[bʉt]'boot'May be more front [ʏ] instead.[26]
SwedishBohuslän[27]yla[²ʉᶻːlä]'howl'A fricated vowel that corresponds to [y̫ː] in Central Standard Swedish.[27] See Swedish phonology
Tamil[28]வால்[väːlʉ]'tail'Epenthetic vowel inserted in colloquial speech after word-final liquids; can be unrounded [ɨ] instead.[28] See Tamil phonology

Close central compressed vowel

Close central compressed vowel

As there is no official diacritic for compression in the IPA, the centering diacritic is used with the front rounded vowel [y], which is normally compressed. Another possibility is ɏ, a centralized [y] by analogy with the other close central vowels. Other possible transcriptions are ɨ͡β̞ (simultaneous [ɨ] and labial compression) and ɨᵝ ([ɨ] modified with labial compression[29]).


  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its roundedness is compressed, which means that the margins of the lips are tense and drawn together in such a way that the inner surfaces are not exposed.


This vowel is typically transcribed in IPA with ʉ. It occurs in some dialects of Swedish, but see also close front compressed vowel. The close back vowels of Norwegian and Swedish are also compressed. See close back compressed vowel. Medumba has a compressed central vowel [ɨᵝ] where the corners of the mouth are not drawn together.[30]

JapaneseSome younger speakers[31]空気/kūki[kÿːki]'air'Near-back [] for other speakers.[31] See Japanese phonology
NorwegianUrban East[32][33]hus[hÿːs]'house'Typically transcribed in IPA with ʉː. Also described as front [].[34] See Norwegian phonology
SwedishSome dialectsful[fÿːl]'ugly'More front [ ~ ʏː] in Central Standard Swedish; typically transcribed in IPA as ʉː. See Swedish phonology

See also


  1. While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. Instead of "post-palatal", it can be called "retracted palatal", "backed palatal", "palato-velar", "pre-velar", "advanced velar", "fronted velar" or "front-velar".
  3. 1 2 Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  4. Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 14.
  5. Abdel-Massih (1971), p. 20.
  6. Harrington, Cox & Evans (1997).
  7. Jilka, Matthias. "North American English Dialects" (PDF). Stuttgart: Institut für Linguistik/Anglistik, University of Stuttgart. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014.
  8. Matthews (1938), p. 78.
  9. Przedlacka (2001), p. 42.
  10. "Received Pronunciation Phonology".
  11. Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009).
  12. Lodge (2009), p. 168.
  13. Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 7.
  14. Watson (2007), p. 357.
  15. Watt & Allen (2003), p. 269.
  16. Lass (2002), p. 116.
  17. Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006), p. ?.
  18. 1 2 Jilka, Matthias. "Irish English and Ulster English" (PDF). Stuttgart: Institut für Linguistik/Anglistik, University of Stuttgart. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014.
  19. Khan & Weise (2013), p. 236.
  20. 1 2 Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  21. 1 2 3 4 Urua (2004), p. 106.
  22. 1 2 Ó Sé (2000), p. ?.
  23. 1 2 Ní Chasaide (1999), p. 114.
  24. Chirkova & Chen (2013), p. 75.
  25. Jones & Ward (1969), pp. 67–68.
  26. 1 2 Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 54.
  27. 1 2 3 Riad (2014), p. 21.
  28. 1 2 Keane (2004), p. 114.
  29. e.g. in Flemming (2002) Auditory representations in phonology, p. 83.
  30. 1 2 Okada (1999), p. 118.
  31. Strandskogen (1979), pp. 15, 21.
  32. Popperwell (2010), pp. 16, 29.
  33. Vanvik (1979), pp. 13, 18.


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  • Blankenship, Barbara; Ladefoged, Peter; Bhaskararao, Peri; Chase, Nichumeno (1993), "Phonetic structures of Khonoma Angami", in Maddieson, Ian, Fieldwork studies of targeted languages, 84, Los Angeles: The UCLA Phonetics Laboratory Group, pp. 127–141 
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  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Harrington, J.; Cox, F.; Evans, Z. (1997), "An acoustic phonetic study of broad, general, and cultivated Australian English vowels" (PDF), Australian Journal of Linguistics, 17: 155–184, doi:10.1080/07268609708599550 
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