Close back unrounded vowel

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Not to be confused with the Armenian letter ա or the Cyrillic letter ш.
Close back unrounded vowel
ɯ
IPA number 316
Encoding
Entity (decimal) ɯ
Unicode (hex) U+026F
X-SAMPA M
Kirshenbaum u-
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠥ (braille pattern dots-136)
Sound

The close back unrounded vowel, or high back unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɯ. Typographically a turned letter m, given its relation to the sound represented by the letter u it can be considered a u with an extra "bowl". The sound is sometimes referred to as "unrounded u".

The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, hence the name of this article. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low".

Features[edit]

IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Close
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
iy
ɨʉ
ɯu
ɪʏ
eø
ɘɵ
ɤo
ɛœ
ɜɞ
ʌɔ
aɶ
ɑɒ
Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
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IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view
  • 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 vowel backness is back, which means the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Note that unrounded back vowels tend to be centralized, which means that they're in fact near-back.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.

Occurrence[edit]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese eu [ɯ] 'see' Durie[1] describes this sound as such, while Asyik[2] and Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi[3] describe it as closer to [ɨ].
Alekano hanuva [hɑnɯβɑ] 'nothing'
Azeri qırx [gɯɾx] 'forty'
Bashkir ҡыҙ [qɯð] 'girl'
Min Nan [tɯ] 'pig' Some dialects
Wu [vɯ] 'father' Some dialects
Xiang [xɯ] 'fire'
Crimean Tatar canım [dʒanɯm] 'please'
Garifuna gürûgua ɡɯˈɹɯɡwə 'bite'
Irish Ulster caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'narrow' See Irish phonology
Korean[4] 음식 eumsik [ɯːmɕik̚] 'food' See Korean phonology
Kyrgyz кыз [qɯz] 'girl'
Ongota [kuˈbuːɯ] 'dry'
Sakha тыл [tɯl] 'tongue'
Scottish Gaelic caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'thin' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Sundanese meunang [mɯnaŋ] 'get'
Thai[5] ขึ้น[6] [kʰɯn˥˩] 'to go up'
Turkish ılık [ɯˈɫɯk] 'warm' See Turkish phonology
Turkmen ýaşyl [jäːˈʃɯl] 'green'
Vietnamese tư [tɯ] 'fourth' See Vietnamese phonology

The symbol ɯ is sometimes used for Japanese /u/, but that sound is rounded, albeit with labial compression rather than protrusion. It is more accurately described as an exolabial close back vowel.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Lee, Hyun Bok (1999), "Korean", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association:A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–123, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Tingsabadh, M.R. Kalaya; Abramson, Arthur S. (1993), Thai, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (1): 24–26, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004746