Labialized palatal approximant

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Not to be confused with Կ or Ч.
Labial-palatal approximant
IPA number 171
Entity (decimal) ɥ
Unicode (hex) U+0265
Kirshenbaum j<rnd>
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)

The labialized palatal approximant, also called the labial–palatal or labio-palatal approximant, is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It has two constrictions in the vocal tract: with the tongue on the palate, and rounded at the lips. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɥ, a rotated lowercase letter h, or occasionally , since it is a labialized [j]. It is the semivocalic counterpart of the close front rounded vowel [y].


Features of the labial-palatal approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is called labio-palatal, which means it is labialized palatal, accomplished by raising the body of the tongue toward the palate while rounding the lips.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. However, in some languages (like Swiss German) it can just mean that this consonant is pronounced shorter and weaker than its voiceless counterpart, while its voicedness or lack thereof is not relevant. In such cases it's more accurate to call such sounds lenis or lax.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz ауаҩы [awaˈɥə] 'human' See Abkhaz phonology
Chinese Mandarin y [ɥœ˥˩] 'moon' See Mandarin phonology
Korean gwi [kɥi] 'ear' See Korean phonology
French nuit About this sound [nɥi]  'night' See French phonology
Swedish yla [ˈyː(ɥ)la] 'howl' Occurrence varies with dialect. See Swedish phonology

See also[edit]