Near-close front rounded vowel

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

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⟩, 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 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, this 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.

In some languages however, ⟨ʏ⟩ is used to transcribed a vowel that is as low as close-mid, though it 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 this rounded vowel is pronounced with compressed lips (in an exolabial manner). However, in a few cases the lips are protruded (in an endolabial manner). This is the case with Swedish, which contrasts the two types of rounding.

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˕⟩.


  • Its vowel height is near-close, also known as near-high, which means the tongue is not quite so constricted as a close vowel (high vowel).
  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Rounded front vowels are often centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-front.
  • Its roundedness is compressed, which means that the margins of the lips are tense and drawn together in such a way that the inner surfaces are not exposed.


Because front rounded vowels are assumed to have compression, and few descriptions cover the distinction, some of the following may actually have protrusion.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bashkir дүрт / dürt About this sound[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 [ˈkʰø̝ːb̥ə] '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
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 About this sound[y˕t̪] 'to 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 [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.
Ripuarian Kerkrade dialect[44] kümme [ˈky˕mə] 'to moan' May be transcribed in IPA with ⟨y⟩.
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[45] buit [bʏt] 'boot' May be central [ʉ] instead.[45]
Swedish Central Standard[5][46] ut [ʏːt̪] 'out' Often realized as a sequence [ʏβ̞] or [ʏβ][47][48] (hear the word: About this sound[ʏβt̪]). The height has been variously described as near-close [ʏː][5][46] and close [].[49] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ʉː⟩; it is central [ʉː] in other dialects. See Swedish phonology
Turkish[50] atasözü [ät̪äˈs̪ø̞z̪ʏ] 'proverb' Allophone of /y/ described variously as "word-final"[50] and "occurring in final open syllable of a phrase".[51] See Turkish phonology
Turkmen[52] Türkmençe [t̪ʏɾkmɛntʃɛ] 'Turkmen'
Wymysorys[53] büwa [ˈbʏvä] 'boys'