Close central unrounded vowel

Close central unrounded vowel
IPA number 317
Entity (decimal) ɨ
Unicode (hex) U+0268
Kirshenbaum i"
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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 (centralized i) or ɯ̈ (centralized ɯ).[2]

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


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.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


/ɨ/ is uncommon as a phoneme in Indo-European languages, occurring most commonly as an allophone in some Slavic languages. 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).

Acehnesetupeue[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]
AngamiKhonoma[7]prü[pɻɨ²]'hail stone'The height varies between close [ɨ] and mid [ə].[7] Typically transcribed in IPA with ə.
Arhuaco ikʉ ɪk'ɨ 'arhuaco language'
Mandarin[8]chi ()[tʂʰɨ]'to eat'
EnglishSoutheastern English[9]rude[ɹɨːd]'rude'May be rounded [ʉː], or a diphthong [ʊʉ̯~əʉ̯] instead.
Hausa[11]Allophone of /i/.[11]
IrishMunster[12]caora[kɨ̟ːɾˠə]'sheep'Somewhat fronted; allophone of /i/ between broad consonants.[12] See Irish phonology
Latgalian[16]dyžan[ˈd̪ɨʒän̪]'very much'See Latgalian phonology
Paicî[19]May be transcribed in IPA with ɯ.
Romanian[20]înot[ɨˈn̪o̞t̪]'I swim'See Romanian phonology
Russian[21]ты [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]Possible realization of /ɯ/ after coronal consonants.[25]
Sirionó[26][eˈsɨ]'dry wood'
SwedishBohuslän[27]bli[blɨᶻː]'to stay'A fricated vowel that corresponds to [] in Central Standard Swedish.[27] See Swedish phonology
TajikBukharan[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
TurkishEastern AnatoliaCorresponds to /ɯ/ in standard Turkish.
Balkans[31]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[31] transcribes this phoneme as /i/.
Udmurt[32]ургетэ, ыргетэ[33][ɨrgete]'it growls'
WelshNorthern dialects[34]llun[ɬɨːn]'picture'See Welsh phonology
ZapotecTilquiapan[35]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].[36] Similarly, European Portuguese unstressed e, often represented as /ɨ/, is actually a near-close near-back unrounded vowel,[37] more narrowly transcribed using ad hoc symbols such as [ɯ̽] (mid-centralized), [ɯ̟] (fronted) and [ʊ̜] (less rounded i.e. unrounded)

See also


  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
  6. Mid-vowels in Acehnese Archived 2010-07-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. 1 2 Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  8. "Chinese Vowels".
  9. Lodge (2009), p. 174.
  10. "Phonological inventory of Paraguayan Guarani". South American Phonological Inventory Database. Berkeley: University of California. 2015.
  11. 1 2 Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  12. 1 2 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. 1 2 Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  26. Firestone (1965), p. ?.
  27. 1 2 3 Riad (2014), p. 21.
  28. 1 2 Ido (2014), p. 91.
  29. 1 2 Keane (2004), p. 114.
  30. Tench (2007), p. 230.
  31. 1 2 Dombrowski, Andrew. "Vowel Harmony Loss in West Rumelian Turkish".
  32. Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 64, 68.
  33. ургетыны [Udmurt-Russian dictionary] (in Russian)
  34. Ball (1984), p. ?.
  35. Merrill (2008), p. 109.
  36. Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  37. Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.


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