|voiced labialized palatal approximant|
the voiced labialized palatal approximant, also called the voiced labial–palatal or labio-palatal approximant, is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. it has two constrictions in the vocal tract: with the tongue on the palate, and rounded at the lips. the symbol in the international phonetic alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɥ⟩, a rotated lowercase letter ⟨h⟩, or occasionally ⟨jʷ⟩, since it is a labialized [j].
the labialized palatal approximant can in many cases be considered the semivocalic equivalent of the close front rounded vowel [y]. the two are almost identical featurally. they alternate with each other in certain languages, such as french, and in the diphthongs of some languages, ⟨ɥ⟩ and ⟨y̑⟩ with the non-syllabic diacritic are used in different transcription systems to represent the same sound. sometimes, ⟨y̆⟩ is written in place of ⟨y̑⟩, even though the former symbol denotes an extra-short [y] in the official ipa.
some languages, though, have a palatal approximant that is unspecified for rounding, and therefore cannot be considered the semivocalic equivalent of either [y] or its unrounded counterpart [i]. an example of such language is spanish, in which the labialized palatal approximant consonant (not semivowel, which does not exist in spanish) appears allophonically with rounded vowels in words such as ayuda [aˈʝ̞ʷuð̞a] 'help'. it is not correct to transcribe it with the symbols ⟨ɥ⟩ or ⟨jʷ⟩; the only suitable transcription is ⟨ʝ̞ʷ⟩. see palatal approximant for more information.
there is also the labialized post-palatal approximant in some languages, which is articulated slightly more back compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical labialized palatal approximant, though not as back as the prototypical labialized velar approximant. it can be considered the semivocalic equivalent of the close central rounded vowel [ʉ]. the two are almost identical featurally. the international phonetic alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ⟨ɥ̄⟩ or ⟨ɥ˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ɥ⟩), ⟨ɥ̈⟩ (centralized ⟨ɥ⟩), ⟨w̟⟩ (advanced ⟨w⟩) or ⟨ẅ⟩ (centralized ⟨w⟩). the equivalent x-sampa symbols are
w_", respectively. other possible transcriptions include a centralized and labialized ⟨j⟩ (⟨j̈ʷ⟩ in the ipa,
j_"_w in x-sampa) and a non-syllabic ⟨ʉ⟩ (⟨ʉ̯⟩ in the ipa,
}_^ in x-sampa).
especially in broad transcription, the labialized post-palatal approximant may be transcribed as a palatalized labialized velar approximant (⟨wʲ⟩ in the ipa,
w_j in x-sampa).