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Near-close near-front rounded vowel

Near-close near-front rounded vowel
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IPA number 320
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Kirshenbaum I.
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The near-close near-front rounded vowel, or near-high near-front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʏ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is Y.

The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, though many linguists prefer the terms "high" and "low".

In most languages this rounded vowel is pronounced with compressed lips (in an exolabial manner). However, in a few cases the lips are protruded (in an endolabial manner). This is the case with Swedish, which contrasts the two types of rounding.

Near-close near-front compressed vowel


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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Note: Since front rounded vowels are assumed to have compression, and few descriptions cover the distinction, some of the following may actually have protrusion.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Armenian Western գիւղ [kʰʏʁ] 'village'
Chinese Wu tseu [tsœʏ˩˧] 'walk' Occurs only in some dialects such as Ningbo dialect and Suzhou dialect
Dutch Standard[1] fuut [fʏt] 'grebe' Also described as central [ʉ̞][2] and close [ÿ].[3] See Dutch phonology
English Southern England[4] book [bʏk] 'book' Some dialects.[4] Corresponds to /ʊ/ in other English dialects. See English phonology
Ulster[5] mule [mjʏl] 'mule' Short allophone of /u/; occurs only after /j/. See English phonology
Faroese krúss [kɹʏsː] 'mug'
French Quebec lune [lʏn] 'moon' Allophone of /y/ in closed syllables. See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[6] schützen [ˈʃʏt͡sn̩] 'protect' May be somewhat lowered.[7] See German phonology
Lori tü [tʏ] 'you'
Portuguese Azorean[8] figura [fiˈɣʏ̝ɾə] 'figure' Stressed vowel, fronting of original /u/ in some dialects. Raised, i.e. fully close. See Portuguese phonology
Peninsular[9] tudo [ˈt̪ʏ̝ðu] 'all', 'everything'
Swedish Central Standard[10] ut About this sound [ʏβ̞t̪]  'out' May be central [ʉː] in other dialects. See Swedish phonology

Dutch short u is often transcribed as /ʏ/, but it is actually a central vowel, close-mid [ɵ] in the Netherlands,[2][11] and near-close [ʊ̈] in Belgium.[3]

Similarly, Icelandic u is often transcribed as /ʏ/, but it is actually close-mid central [ɵ].[12][13][14]

Near-close near-front protruded vowel

Near-close near-front protruded vowel
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Catford notes that most languages with rounded front and back vowels use distinct types of labialization, protruded back vowels and compressed front vowels. However, a few languages, such as Scandinavian ones, have protruded front vowels. One of these, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels (together with height and duration).[15]

As there are no diacritics in the IPA to distinguish protruded and compressed rounding, old diacritic for labialization, ◌̫, will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded front vowels. Another possible transcription is ʏʷ or ɪʷ (a near-close near-front vowel modified by endolabialization), but this could be misread as a diphthong.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Norwegian Standard Eastern[16] nytt [nʏ̫tː] 'new' Described variously as near-front[17] and front.[18] See Norwegian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[10] ylle About this sound [ˈʏ̫l̪ːɛ]  'wool' See Swedish phonology



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  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173 
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