The close central unrounded vowel, or high central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɨ⟩. The IPA symbol is the letter i with a horizontal bar. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "barred-i".
The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low", and these are the only terms found in introductory textbooks on phonetics such as those by Peter Ladefoged.
/ɨ/ is uncommon as a phoneme in Indo-European languages, but does occur as an allophone in many 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 (e.g. proto-Uto-Aztecan). Campbell, Kaufman & Smith-Stark (1986) identify the presence of this vowel phoneme as an areal feature of a Mesoamerican Sprachbund (although this is not a defining feature of the entire area).
Polish ⟨y⟩ is often transcribed as /ɨ/, but actually it is a fronted and slightly raised close-mid central unrounded vowel, that could be narrowly transcribed as [ɘ̟˔]. Similarly, European Portuguese unstressed ⟨e⟩, often represented as /ɨ/, is actually a near-close near-back unrounded vowel, more narrowly transcribed using ad hoc symbols such as [ɯ̽] (mid-centralized), [ɯ̟] (fronted) and [ʊ̜] (less rounded i.e. unrounded).
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