Close central unrounded vowel
IPA Number317
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɨ
Unicode (hex)U+0268
Braille⠴ (braille pattern dots-356)⠊ (braille pattern dots-24)
A spectrogram of /ɨ/.

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.

Occasionally, this vowel is transcribed ⟨ï⟩ (centralizedi⟩) or ⟨ɯ̈⟩ (centralized ⟨ɯ⟩).[2]

The close central unrounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the rare post-palatal approximant [j̈].[3]

Some languages feature the near-close central unrounded vowel (listen), which is slightly lower. It is most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɨ̞⟩ and ⟨ɪ̈⟩, but other transcriptions such as ⟨ɪ̠⟩ and ⟨ɘ̝⟩ are also possible. In many British dictionaries, this vowel has been transcribed ⟨ɪ⟩, which captures its height; in the American tradition it is more often ⟨ɨ⟩, which captures its centrality, or ⟨⟩,[4] which captures both. ⟨⟩ is also used in a number of other publications, such as Accents of English by John C. Wells. In the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, ⟨⟩ represents variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/.[5]



/ɨ/ is uncommon as a phoneme in Indo-European languages, occurring most commonly in some Slavic languages, such as Belarusian and Russian (see ы). 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, and Smith-Stark 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).[6]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese tupeue [tupɨə] 'to know' Asyik[7] and Al-Ahmadi Al-Harbi[8] describe this sound as such while Durie[9] describes it as closer to [ɯ]
Aikanã[10] tɨi [ˈtɨi] 'aunt' It also happens as allophone of /a/ before [i].[10]
Amharic[11] ሥር/sûr [sɨ̞r] 'root' Near-close.[11]
Angami Khonoma[12] prü [pɻɨ˨] 'hail stone' The height varies between close [ɨ] and mid [ə].[12] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ə⟩.
Arhuaco ikʉ [ɪk'ɨ] 'Arhuaco language'
Bantawa Ilam, Nepal küma [kɨma] 'afraid'
Berber Central Atlas Tamazight[13] ⵅⴷ/khdim [χdɨ̞m] 'to work' Epenthetically inserted into consonant clusters before labial and coronal consonants.
Chinese Hokkien /tir [tɨ˥] 'pig'
Mandarin /shí [ʂɨ˧˥] 'ten'
English Inland Southern American[14] good [ɡɨ̞d] 'good' Corresponds to [ʊ] in other dialects. See English phonology
Southeastern English[15] [ɡɪ̈d] May be rounded [ʊ̈] instead;[15] it corresponds to [ʊ] in other dialects. See English phonology
London[16][17] lip [lɪ̈ʔp] 'lip' Possible realization of /ɪ/.[16][17]
South African[18] [lɨ̞p] For some speakers it can be equal to [ə]. General and Broad varieties of SAE have an allophonic variation, with [ɪ] ([i] in Broad) occurring near velar and palatal consonants, and [ɨ̞~ə] elsewhere. See South African English phonology
Southern American[19] [lɪ̈p] Allophone of /ɪ/ before labial consonants, sometimes also in other environments.[19]
Southeastern English[20] rude [ɹɨːd] 'rude' May be rounded [ʉː], or a diphthong [ʊʉ̯~əʉ̯] instead.
Guaraní[21] yvy [ɨʋɨ] 'earth'
Hausa[22] cin abinci [t̠ʃin abɨnt̠ʃi] 'to eat' Allophone of /i/.[22]
Irish goirt [ɡɨ̞ɾˠtʲ] 'salty' Allophone of /i/ between broad consonants. See Irish phonology
Munster[23] caora [kɨːɾˠə] 'sheep' Allophone of /i/ between broad consonants.[23] See Irish phonology
Ulster[24] [example needed] Allophone of /ɪ/. Near-close.[24]
Kalagan[25] [pɨˈnɨt̪] 'beard'
Kashmiri[26] ژٕنُن/cûnun [t͡sɨnʊn] 'peach'
Kera[27] [ɡɨ̀ɡɨ̀r] 'knee'
Khmer គិត/kīt [kɨt] 'to think' See Khmer phonology
Kurdish[28][29] Palewani (Southern) کرماشان/kirmaşan [cʰɨɾmäːʃäːn] 'kermanshah' Equal to Kurmanji and Sorani [ɪ]. See Kurdish phonology
Latgalian[30] dyžan [ˈd̪ɨʒän̪] 'very much' See Latgalian phonology
Mah Meri[31] [d͡ʑäbɨ̞ʔ͡k̚] 'to be drunk'
Malay Kelantan-Pattani ngecat [ŋɨ.caʔ] 'to paint' See Kelantan-Pattani Malay
Mapudungun[32] müṉa [mɘ̝ˈn̪ɐ̝] 'male cousin on father's side' Unstressed allophone of /ɘ/.[32]
Mongolian[33] хүчир/hučir [xutʃʰɨɾɘ̆] 'difficult'
Matis[34] [kɨˈnɨ] 'wall'
Mono[35] dɨ [dɨ] 'count'
Mpade[36] sɨm [sɨm] 'to eat'
Paicî[37] [example needed] May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɯ⟩.
Romanian[38] înot [ɨˈn̪o̞t̪] 'I swim' See Romanian phonology
Russian[39] ты/ty [t̪ɨ] 'you' (singular/informal) Occurs only after unpalatalized consonants. Near-close when unstressed.[39] See Russian phonology
Sahaptin[40] kʼsit [kʼsɨt] 'cold' Epenthetic. No lengthened equivalent
Sanumá[41] [taˈaɨ] 'to see' The nasal version [ɨ̃] also occurs.[42]
Scottish Gaelic Lewis[43] uinneag [ˈɨɲak] 'window' Allophone of /ɯ/ when short and in proximity to slender consonants.
Shipibo[44] tenaitianronki [ˈt̪ɨnɐi̞ti̞ɐ̃ɽõ̞ɣi̞] [translation needed] Possible realization of /ɯ/ after coronal consonants.[44]
Sirionó[45] [eˈsɨ] 'dry wood'
Sümi[46] sü [ʃɨ̀] 'to hurt' Described variously as close [ɨ][46] and near-close [ɨ̞].[47]
Swedish Bohuslän[48] bli [blɨᶻː] 'to become' A fricated vowel that corresponds to [] in Central Standard Swedish.[48] See Swedish phonology
Tajik Bukharan[49] cižciž ғижғиж [ʁɨʑʁɨʑ] 'the sound of wood sawing' Allophone of /i/ in the environment of uvular consonants.[49]
Tamil[50] vály (வால்) [väːlɨ] 'tail' Epenthetic vowel inserted in colloquial speech after word-final liquids; can be rounded [ʉ] instead.[50] See Tamil phonology
Tera[51] z [zɨ] 'said'
vr [vɨ̞r] 'to give' Allophone of /ɨ/ in closed syllables.[52]
Tsou[53] hahocngx, hahocngʉ [ha.ˈho.t͡sŋɨ] 'man' /ɨ/, with free variant [ʉ]. Used to be written as ⟨ʉ⟩, but changed to ⟨x⟩ for more convenient typing.[53]
Tupi ybytyra [ɨβɨ'tɨɾa] 'mountain' See Tupian Phonology
Turkish Standard[54] sığ [sɨː] 'shallow' Also described as close back [ɯ][55] and near-close near-back [ɯ̽][56] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɯ⟩. See Turkish phonology
Balkans[57] [example needed] Word-final merger of standard Turkish sounds /i/ and /ɯ/, shift of /y/ and /u/ into single phoneme due to interactions caused by Balkan sprachbund. Dombrowski[57] transcribes this phoneme as /i/.
Udmurt[58] yrgete/ыргетэ[59] [ɨrɡete] 'it growls'
Vietnamese[60] bưng [ʔɓɨŋ˧˧] 'to carry'
Wayuu paanüküin [pa:nɨkɨinː] 'your mouth'
Welsh Northern dialects[61] llun [ɬɨːn] 'picture' Close when long, near-close when short.[61] Merges with /ɪ/ in southern dialects. See Welsh phonology
pump [pɨ̞mp] 'five'
Yaeyama pïtu [pɨtu] 'person'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[62] 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].[63] Similarly, European Portuguese unstressed ⟨e⟩, often represented as /ɨ/, is actually a near-close near-back unrounded vowel,[64] more narrowly transcribed using ad hoc symbols such as [ɯ̽] (mid-centralized), [ɯ̟] (fronted) and [ʊ̜] (less rounded, i.e. unrounded).

See also


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ See e.g. Cruttenden (2014:133), who transcribes the unrounded central realization of the English GOOSE vowel /uː/ with the symbol [ɯ̈ː].
  3. ^ Instead of "post-palatal", it can be called "retracted palatal", "backed palatal", "palato-velar", "pre-velar", "advanced velar", "fronted velar" or "front-velar".
  4. ^ Pullum & Ladusaw (1996:298)
  5. ^ Upton (2012), pp. 63, 68.
  6. ^ Campbell, Kaufman & Smith-Stark (1986)
  7. ^ Asyik, Abdul Gani (1982), "The agreement system in Acehnese" (PDF), Mon-Khmer Studies, 11: 1–33, archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2012, retrieved 9 November 2012
  8. ^ 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, archived from the original on 2009-07-29, retrieved 2009-03-06
  9. ^ Mid-vowels in Acehnese Archived 2010-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Tondineli (2020), p. 914.
  11. ^ a b Hayward & Hayward (1999), p. 47.
  12. ^ a b Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  13. ^ Abdel-Massih (1971:15)
  14. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 534–535.
  15. ^ a b Lodge (2009:174)
  16. ^ a b Altendorf & Watt (2004:188–189)
  17. ^ a b Mott (2012:75)
  18. ^ Lass (2002), pp. 113–115.
  19. ^ a b Wells (1982:534)
  20. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 174.
  21. ^ "Phonological inventory of Paraguayan Guarani". South American Phonological Inventory Database. Berkeley: University of California. 2015.
  22. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  23. ^ a b Ó Sé (2000), p. ?.
  24. ^ a b Ní Chasaide (1999:114)
  25. ^ Wendel & Wendel (1978), p. 198.
  26. ^ "Koshur: Spoken Kashmiri: A Language Course: Transcription". Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  27. ^ Pearce (2011), p. 251.
  28. ^ Thackston (2006a), p. 1.
  29. ^ Khan & Lescot (1970), pp. 8–16.
  30. ^ Nau (2011), pp. 9–10.
  31. ^ Kruspe & Hajek (2009), p. 244.
  32. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013:92)
  33. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 62, 66–67.
  34. ^ Ferreira (2005), p. 37.
  35. ^ Olson (2004), p. 235.
  36. ^ Allison (n.d.).
  37. ^ Gordon & Maddieson (1996), p. 118.
  38. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  39. ^ a b Jones & Ward (1969), pp. 33, 38.
  40. ^ Hargus & Beavert (2002).
  41. ^ Autuori (2019), p. 45.
  42. ^ Autuori (2019), pp. 45, 47.
  43. ^ Oftedal (1956), p. 80.
  44. ^ a b Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  45. ^ Firestone (1965), p. ?.
  46. ^ a b Teo (2014), p. 28.
  47. ^ Teo (2012), p. 368.
  48. ^ a b c Riad (2014), p. 21.
  49. ^ a b Ido (2014), p. 91.
  50. ^ a b Keane (2004), p. 114.
  51. ^ Tench (2007), p. 230.
  52. ^ Tench (2007:231)
  53. ^ a b 張, 永利; 潘, 家榮 (2018). 南島語言叢書⑦ 鄒語語法概論 (in Chinese) (2nd ed.). New Taipei: Council of Indigenous Peoples. pp. 5–14. ISBN 9789860556889.
  54. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999:155)
  55. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  56. ^ Kılıç & Öğüt (2004)
  57. ^ a b Dombrowski, Andrew. "Vowel Harmony Loss in West Rumelian Turkish".
  58. ^ Iivonen & Harnud (2005), pp. 64, 68.
  59. ^ ургетыны [Udmurt-Russian dictionary] (in Russian)
  60. ^ Ly Dinh Thuan; Tran Thanh Nga; Nguyen Cong Chinh (eds.). "bưng". VDict. Retrieved 2024-03-30.
  61. ^ a b Ball (1984), p. ?.
  62. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 109.
  63. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  64. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.