Front vowel

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A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also called bright vowels because they are perceived as sounding brighter than the back vowels.[1] The front vowels which have dedicated symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

There also are front vowels which don't have dedicated symbols in the IPA:

Rounded front vowels are typically centralized, i.e. near-front.

Effect on preceding consonant[edit]

Main article: Palatalization

In the history of many languages, for example French and Japanese, front vowels have altered preceding velar or alveolar consonants, bringing their place of articulation towards palatal or postalveolar. This change can be allophonic variation, or it can have become phonemic.

This historical palatalization is reflected in the orthographies of several European languages, including the "c" and "g" of almost all Romance languages, the "k" and "g" in Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic, and the "κ", "γ" and "χ" in Greek. English follows the French pattern, but without as much regularity. However, for native or early borrowed words affected by palatalization, English has generally altered the spelling after the pronunciation (Examples include cheap, church, cheese, churn from *k, and yell, yarn, yearn, yeast from .)

Before back vowel: hard Before front vowel: soft
English "C" call [kɔːl] cell [sɛl]
English "G" gall [ɡɔːl] gel [dʒɛl]
French "C" calque [kalk] cela [səla]
French "G" gare [ɡɑʁ] gel [ʒɛl]
Italian "C" cara [kaɾa] ciao [tʃao̯]
Italian "G" gallo [ɡalːo] genere [ˈdʒɛneɾe]
Italian "SC" scala [skala] scena [ˈʃɛna]
Swedish "K" karta [kɑːʈa] kär [ɕæːr]
Swedish "G" god [ɡuːd] göra [jœːra]
Swedish "SK" skal [skɑːl] skäl [ɧɛːl]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tsur, Reuven (February 1992). The Poetic Mode of Speech Perception. Duke University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-8223-1170-4.