Close central unrounded vowel

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Close central unrounded vowel
IPA number 317
Entity (decimal) ɨ
Unicode (hex) U+0268
Kirshenbaum i"
Braille ⠴ (braille pattern dots-356) ⠊ (braille pattern dots-24)

The close central unrounded vowel, or high central unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɨ, namely the lower-case letter i with a horizontal bar. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as barred i. In American tradition this symbol (and the name "barred i") denote a slightly different sound, that of the second syllable of roses when distinct from Rosa's;[2] see also near-close central unrounded vowel.

Occasionally, this vowel is transcribed ⟨ï⟩ (centralizedi⟩) or ⟨ɯ̈⟩ (centralized ⟨ɯ⟩).[3]

The close central unrounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the rare post-palatal approximant [j̈].[4]


IPA: Vowels
Front Near-front Central Near-back Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded


/ɨ/ is uncommon as a phoneme in Indo-European languages, occurring most commonly as an allophone in some 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 (such as Proto-Uto-Aztecan). Campbell, Kaufman & Smith-Stark (1986) identify the presence of this vowel phoneme as an areal feature of a Mesoamerican Sprachbund (although that is not a defining feature of the entire area).

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese tupeue [tupɨə] 'to know' Asyik[5] and Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi[6] describe this sound as such while Durie[7] describes it as closer to [ɯ]
Angami Khonoma[8] prü [pɻɨ²] 'hail stone' The height varies between close [ɨ] and mid [ə].[8] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə⟩.
English Southeastern English[9] rude [ɹɨːd] 'rude' May be rounded [ʉː], or a diphthong [ʊʉ̯~əʉ̯] instead.
Guaraní[10] yvy [ɨʋɨ] 'earth'
Hausa[11] [example needed] Allophone of /i/.[11]
Irish Munster[12] caora [kɨ̟ːɾˠə] 'sheep' Somewhat fronted; allophone of /i/ between broad consonants.[12] See Irish phonology
Kalagan[13] [pɨˈnɨt̪] 'beard'
Kashmiri[14] teer [ˈt̪ɨːr] 'cold'
Kera[15] [ɡɨ̀ɡɨ̀r] 'knee'
Latgalian[16] dyžan [ˈd̪ɨʒän̪] 'very much' See Latgalian phonology
Mongolian[17] хүчир [xutʃʰɨɾɘ̆] 'difficult'
Mono[18] dɨ [dɨ] 'count'
Paicî[19] [example needed] May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɯ⟩.
Romanian[20] înot [ɨˈn̪o̞t̪] 'I swim' See Romanian phonology
Russian[21] ты About this sound [t̪ɨ] 'you' (singular) Occurs only after unpalatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sahaptin[22] [kʼsɨt] 'cold' Epenthetic. No lengthened equivalent
Sema[23] sü [ʃɨ̀] 'to hurt' Also described as near-close [ɨ̞].[24]
Shipibo[25] tenaitianronki [ˈt̪ɨnɐi̞ti̞ɐ̃ɽõ̞ɣi̞] [translation needed] Possible realization of /ɯ/ after coronal consonants.[25]
Sirionó[26] [eˈsɨ] 'dry wood'
Swedish Bohuslän[27] bli [blɨᶻː] 'to stay' A fricated vowel that corresponds to [] in Central Standard Swedish.[27] See Swedish phonology
Tajik Bukharan[28] ғижғиж [ʁɨʑʁɨʑ] 'the sound of
wood sawing'
Allophone of /i/ in the environment of uvular consonants.[28]
Tamil[29] வால் [väːlɨ] 'tail' Epenthetic vowel inserted in colloquial speech after word-final liquids; can be rounded [ʉ] instead.[29] See Tamil phonology
Tera[30] zu [zɨ] 'said'
Udmurt[31] ургетэ, ыргетэ[32] [ɨrgete] 'it growls'
Welsh Northern dialects[33] llun [ɬɨːn] 'picture' See Welsh phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[34] nɨ [nɨ] 'be sour'

The sound of Polish ⟨y⟩ is often represented as /ɨ/, but actually it is a close-mid advanced central unrounded vowel, more narrowly transcribed [ɘ̟].[35] Similarly, European Portuguese unstressed ⟨e⟩, often represented as /ɨ/, is actually a near-close near-back unrounded vowel,[36] more narrowly transcribed using ad hoc symbols such as [ɯ̽] (mid-centralized), [ɯ̟] (fronted) and [ʊ̜] (less rounded i.e. unrounded)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Flemming, E., Johnson, S. (2007), "Rosa’s roses: reduced vowels in American English", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37/1, pp. 83–96.
  3. ^ See e.g. Gimson (2014:133), who transcribes the unrounded central realization of the English GOOSE vowel /uː/ with the symbol [ɯ̈ː].
  4. ^ Instead of "post-palatal", it can be called "retracted palatal", "backed palatal", "palato-velar", "pre-velar", "advanced velar", "fronted velar" or "front-velar".
  5. ^ Asyik, Abdul Gani (1982), "The agreement system in Acehnese" (PDF), Mon-Khmer Studies, 11: 1–33, archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2013, retrieved 9 November 2012 
  6. ^ Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi, Awwad Ahmad (2003), "Acehnese coda condition: An optimality-theoretic account", Umm Al-Qura University Journal of Educational and Social Sciences and Humanities, 15: 9–21 
  7. ^ Mid-vowels in Acehnese Archived 2010-07-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  9. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 174.
  10. ^ "Phonological inventory of Paraguayan Guarani". South American Phonological Inventory Database. Berkeley: University of California. 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  12. ^ a b Ó Sé (2000), p. ?.
  13. ^ Wendel & Wendel (1978), p. 198.
  14. ^ "Koshur: Spoken Kashmiri: A Language Course: Transcription". Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  15. ^ Pearce (2011), p. 251.
  16. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 9–10.
  17. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 62, 66–67.
  18. ^ Olson (2004), p. 235.
  19. ^ Gordon & Maddieson (1996), p. 118.
  20. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  21. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 33.
  22. ^ Hargus & Beavert (2002).
  23. ^ Teo (2014), p. 28.
  24. ^ Teo (2012), p. 368.
  25. ^ a b Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  26. ^ Firestone (1965), p. ?.
  27. ^ a b c Riad (2014), p. 21.
  28. ^ a b Ido (2014), p. 91.
  29. ^ a b Keane (2004), p. 114.
  30. ^ Tench (2007), p. 230.
  31. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 64, 68.
  32. ^ ургетыны [Udmurt-Russian dictionary] (in Russian) 
  33. ^ Ball (1984), p. ?.
  34. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 109.
  35. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  36. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.