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A near-front vowel is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a near-front vowel is that the tongue is positioned slightly further back in the mouth as in a front vowel, but not as back as in a central vowel. In practice, what are analyzed phonemically as rounded front vowels are typically near-front in their actual articulation.
Near-front vowels are sometimes called front-central, centralized front, retracted front or advanced central.
Near-front vowels are essentially a type of front vowels; no language is known to contrast a near-front vowel with a front vowel and a central vowel based on backness alone.
The near-front vowels that have dedicated symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:
There also are near-front vowels that don't have dedicated symbols in the IPA:
- near-close near-front protruded vowel [ʏʷ] (ʏ̫)
Other near-front vowels can be indicated with diacritics of relative articulation applied to letters for neighboring vowels, such as ⟨i̠⟩, ⟨ɪ̝⟩ or ⟨ɨ̟⟩ for a close near-front unrounded vowel.
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