Near-close near-front rounded vowel
IPA Number320
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʏ
Unicode (hex)U+028F
Braille⠔ (braille pattern dots-35)⠽ (braille pattern dots-13456)

The near-close front rounded vowel, or near-high front rounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages.

The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʏ, a small capital version of the Latin letter y, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is Y.

Handbook of the International Phonetic Association defines [ʏ] as a mid-centralized (lowered and centralized) close front rounded vowel (transcribed [y̽] or [ÿ˕]), and the current official IPA name of the vowel transcribed with the symbol ʏ is near-close near-front rounded vowel.[2] However, acoustic analysis of cardinal vowels as produced by Daniel Jones and John C. Wells has shown that basically all cardinal front rounded vowels (so not just [y] but also [ø, œ, ɶ]) are near-front (or front-central) in their articulation, so [ʏ] may be just a lowered cardinal [y] ([y˕]), a vowel that is intermediate between cardinal [y] and cardinal [ø].[3] In many languages that contrast close, near-close and close-mid front rounded vowels, there is no appreciable difference in backness between them.[4][5][6][7] In some transcriptions, the vowel is transcribed with y[8] or ø.[9] When that is the case, this article transcribes it with the symbols (a lowered y) and ø̝ (a raised ø), respectively. ʏ implies too weak a rounding in some cases (specifically in the case of the vowels that are described as tense in Germanic languages, which are typically transcribed with øː), which would have to be specified as ʏ̹.

In some languages, however, ʏ is used to transcribe a vowel that is as low as close-mid but still fits the definition of a lowered and centralized (or just lowered) cardinal [y]. It occurs in German Standard German as well as some dialects of English (such as Estuary),[10][11][12] and it can be transcribed with the symbol ʏ̞ (a lowered ʏ) in narrow transcription. For the close-mid front rounded vowel that is not usually transcribed with the symbol ʏ (or y), see close-mid front rounded vowel.

In most languages, the rounded vowel is pronounced with compressed lips (in an exolabial manner). However, in a few cases, the lips are protruded (in an endolabial manner), such as in Swedish, which contrasts the two types of rounding.


The near-close front rounded vowel is transcribed with y, ʏ and ø in world's languages. However, when the Latin y or ø are used for this vowel, ʏ may still be used for phonological reasons for a vowel that is lower than near-close, potentially leading to confusion. This is the case in several Germanic language varieties, as well as in some transcriptions of Shanghainese.

In the following table, the difference between compressed and protruded vowels is ignored, except in the case of Swedish. Short vowels transcribed with ʉ, ʏ, ɵ and œ in broad transcription are assumed to have a weak rounding in most cases.

Symbol Phonetic values in various language varieties
Dutch Dzongkha Frisian languages German Limburgish Shanghainese Swedish
Fering Saterland Northern Standard Hamont-Achel Maastricht Weert Central Standard
y [y] ~ [ʏ] ~ [ʉ] [y] [y] [ʉ̞] [ʉ] [y] same as ʏ
[] ~ [ʏː] ~ [ʉː] [] ~ [ʏː] [] [] [] [] [ʉː] [] [y̫ː]
ʉ same as ʏ [ʉ̞ᵝ]
ʉː [ʏᵝː] ~ [yᵝː]
ʏ [ɵ] [ʉ̞] [ø] [ø̜] [ɵ] [ɵ] [ɵ] [ø] [ø̫] ~ [ʏ̫] ~ []
ø same as øː [ø̹] same as øː same as øː same as øː [ʏ] same as œ
øː [øʏ] ~ [øː] ~ [ɵː] [øː] ~ [œː] [ʉ̞ː] [ʏː] [ø̹ː] [ɵː] [ɵː] ~ [ɵʊ̈] [øə] [ø̫ː]
ɵ same as ʏ [ɵ̞ᵝ]
œ same as ʏ [ɵ] [œ] [œ] [œ] [œ̝] [œ̝] [œ̫˔]
œː [œː] [øː] [œː] [œː] [ɞː] [œ̝ː]

Because of that, IPA transcriptions of Limburgish dialects on Wikipedia utilize the symbol ɵ instead of ʏ, following the symbol chosen for the corresponding Standard Dutch vowel by Rietveld & Van Heuven (2009).

Near-close front compressed vowel

The near-close front compressed vowel is typically transcribed in IPA simply as ʏ, and that is the convention used in this article. There is no dedicated diacritic for compression in the IPA. However, the compression of the lips can be shown with the letter ⟨β̞⟩ as ɪ͡β̞ (simultaneous [ɪ] and labial compression) or ɪᵝ ([ɪ] modified with labial compression). The spread-lip diacritic   ͍ may also be used with a rounded vowel letter ʏ͍ as an ad hoc symbol, though technically 'spread' means unrounded.

The close-mid front compressed vowel can be transcribed ɪ̞͡β̞, ɪ̞ᵝ or ʏ͍˕.



Because front rounded vowels are assumed to have compression, and few descriptions cover the distinction, some of the following may actually have protrusion. Vowels transcribed with and ø̝ may have a stronger rounding than the prototypical value of ʏ.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian Gheg yll [ʏɫ] 'star'
Bashkir дүрт / dürt [dʏrt] 'four'
Bavarian Northern[13] vill [v̥ʏl] 'much' Allophone of /i/ before /l/.[13]
Buwal[14] [ɗɛ́ɗʏ̄wɛ̄k] 'bitter' Palatalized allophone of /ə/ when adjacent to a labialized consonant.[14]
Chinese Shanghainese[15] / koe [kø̝˩] 'liver' Realization of /ø/ in open syllables and /ʏ/ in closed syllables. Near-close [ø̝] in the former case, close-mid [ʏ̞] in the latter.[15]
Danish Standard[16] købe [ˈkʰø̝ːpə] 'buy' Also described as close-mid [øː].[17] See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard[18] nu [ny˕] 'now' Also transcribed as close front [y][19][20] and, in the Standard Northern accent, as close central [ʉ].[21] Typically transcribed in IPA with y. See Dutch phonology
English Estuary[22][23] foot [fʏʔt] 'foot' Possible realization of /ʊ/ and /uː/. In the former case, the height varies between near-close [ʏ] and close-mid [ʏ̞].[22][24]
Multicultural London[25] Possible realization of /ʊ/.[25]
Rural white Southern American[26] [fʏt̚] Can be central [ʊ̈] instead.[26]
West Country[27] [fʏt] Possible realization of /ʊ/ and /uː/.[27]
New Zealand[28][29] nurse [nʏːs] 'nurse' Possible realization of /ɵː/ (and also /ʉː/).[28][29][30] See New Zealand English phonology
Ulster[31] mule [mjʏl] 'mule' Short allophone of /u/; occurs only after /j/.[31] See English phonology
Multicultural London food [fʏːd] 'food'
Faroese[32] krúss [kɹʏsː] 'mug' See Faroese phonology
French Parisian[33] tu [t̪y˕] 'you' Also described as close [y];[34][35] typically transcribed in IPA with y. See French phonology
Quebec[36] lune [lʏn] 'moon' Allophone of /y/ in closed syllables.[36] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[10][11] schützen [ˈʃʏ̞t͡sn̩] 'protect' Close-mid; it may be as high as [y] for some speakers.[10][11] See Standard German phonology
Some speakers[37] schwimmen [ʃvʏmː] 'to swim' Allophone of /ɪ/ before labial consonants. Used by some speakers in Northern and Central Germany.[37] See Standard German phonology
Hungarian[4] üt [y˕t̪] 'hit' Typically transcribed in IPA with y. See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[38] vinur [ˈʋɪ̞ːnʏ̞ɾ] 'friend' Close-mid;[38] also described as central [ɵ].[39] See Icelandic phonology
Kazakh жүр/jür [ʑʏr] 'go'
Kurdish d [dʏneː] 'yesterday' Allophone of /weː/ before consonant.
Low German[40] lütt / lut [lʏt] 'little'
Norwegian[41] nytt [nʏtː] 'new' The example word is from Urban East Norwegian, in which the vowel varies between compressed [ʏ] and protruded [ʏ̫].[42] Its height has been variously described as near-close [ʏ][41] and close [y].[43] See Norwegian phonology.
Saterland Frisian[7] röögje [ˈʀø̝ːɡjə] 'to rain' Phonetic realization of /øː/ and /ʏ/. Near-close [ø̝ː] in the former case, close-mid [ʏ̞] in the latter. Phonetically, the latter is nearly identical to /œː/ ([øː]).[7]
Scots[44] buit [bʏt] 'boot' May be central [ʉ] instead.[44]
Swedish Central Standard[5][45] ut [ʏːt̪] 'out' Often realized as a sequence [ʏβ̞] or [ʏβ][46][47] (hear the word: [ʏβt̪]). The height has been variously described as near-close [ʏː][5][45] and close [].[48] Typically transcribed in IPA with ʉː; it is central [ʉː] in other dialects. See Swedish phonology
Turkish[49] atasözü [ät̪äˈs̪ø̞z̪ʏ] 'proverb' Allophone of /y/ described variously as "word-final"[49] and "occurring in final open syllable of a phrase".[50] See Turkish phonology
Turkmen[51] Türkmençe [tʏɾkmøntʃø] 'Turkmen'
Wymysorys[52] büwa [ˈbʏvä] 'boys'

Near-close front protruded vowel

Near-close front protruded vowel

Catford notes[full citation needed] that most languages with rounded front and back vowels use distinct types of labialization, protruded back vowels and compressed front vowels. However, a few languages, such as Scandinavian languages, have protruded front vowels. One of them, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels as well as height and duration.[53]

As there are no diacritics in the IPA to distinguish protruded and compressed rounding, the old diacritic for labialization, ◌̫, will be used here as an ad hoc symbol for protruded front vowels. Another possible transcription is ʏʷ or ɪʷ (a near-close front vowel modified by endolabialization), but that could be misread as a diphthong.

The close-mid front protruded vowel can be transcribed ʏ̫˕, ʏ̞ʷ or ɪ̞ʷ.

For the close-mid front protruded vowel that is not usually transcribed with the symbol ʏ (or y), see close-mid front protruded vowel.

Acoustically, this sound is "between" the more typical compressed near-close front vowel [ʏ] and the unrounded near-close front vowel [ɪ].



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Norwegian[41] nytt [nʏ̫tː] 'new' The example word is from Urban East Norwegian, in which the vowel varies between protruded [ʏ̫] and compressed [ʏ].[42] Its height has been variously described as near-close [ʏ][41] and close [y].[43] See Norwegian phonology.
Swedish Central Standard[5][45] ylle [²ʏ̫lːɛ̝] 'wool' The height has been variously described as close-mid [ʏ̫˕],[5] near-close [ʏ̫][45] and close [].[54] See Swedish phonology


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), pp. 13, 171, 180.
  3. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  4. ^ a b Szende (1994), p. 92.
  5. ^ a b c d e Engstrand (1999), p. 140.
  6. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 87.
  7. ^ a b c Peters (2017), p. ?.
  8. ^ For example, by Collins & Mees (2013:225) and Szende (1994:92).
  9. ^ For example by Chen & Gussenhoven (2015:328); Basbøll & Wagner (1985:40), cited in Basbøll (2005:48) and Peters (2017:?).
  10. ^ a b c Hall (2003), pp. 93–94, 107.
  11. ^ a b c Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), pp. 34, 64.
  12. ^ Altendorf & Watt (2004), pp. 188, 191.
  13. ^ a b Rowley (1990), p. 422.
  14. ^ a b Viljoen (2013), p. 50.
  15. ^ a b Chen & Gussenhoven (2015), p. 328.
  16. ^ Basbøll & Wagner (1985:40), cited in Basbøll (2005:48).
  17. ^ Basbøll (2005), p. 46.
  18. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 132.
  19. ^ Verhoeven (2005), p. 245.
  20. ^ Gussenhoven (2007), p. 30.
  21. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  22. ^ a b Przedlacka (2001), pp. 42–43.
  23. ^ Altendorf & Watt (2004), pp. 188, 190–191.
  24. ^ Altendorf & Watt (2004), pp. 188, 190.
  25. ^ a b Cruttenden (2014), p. 91.
  26. ^ a b Thomas (2004), pp. 303, 308.
  27. ^ a b Altendorf & Watt (2004), p. 200.
  28. ^ a b Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  29. ^ a b Mannell, Cox & Harrington (2009).
  30. ^ Bauer & Warren (2004), p. 582.
  31. ^ a b Jilka, Matthias. "Irish English and Ulster English" (PDF). Stuttgart: Institut für Linguistik/Anglistik, University of Stuttgart. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014.
  32. ^ Peterson (2000), cited in Árnason (2011:76)
  33. ^ Collins & Mees (2013), p. 225.
  34. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  35. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 84.
  36. ^ a b Walker (1984), pp. 51–60.
  37. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 65.
  38. ^ a b Árnason (2011), p. 60.
  39. ^ Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  40. ^ Prehn (2012), p. 157.
  41. ^ a b c d Vanvik (1979), pp. 13, 20.
  42. ^ a b Kristoffersen (2000), pp. 15–16.
  43. ^ a b Kvifte & Gude-Husken (2005), p. 2.
  44. ^ a b Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 54.
  45. ^ a b c d Bolander (2001), p. 55.
  46. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 141.
  47. ^ Riad (2014), p. 28.
  48. ^ Riad (2014), pp. 27–28.
  49. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005), p. 11.
  50. ^ Zimmer & Organ (1999), p. 155.
  51. ^ Hoey (2013), p. 6.
  52. ^ Jarosław Weckwerth. "The pure vowels (monophthongs) of Wilamowicean – spectral characteristics" (PDF). pp. 1–2, 5.
  53. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. ?.
  54. ^ Dahlstedt (1967), p. 16.