A front vowel is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages, its defining characteristic being that the highest point of the tongue is positioned relatively in front in the mouth without creating a constriction that would make it a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also called bright vowels because they are perceived as sounding brighter than the back vowels.
Near-front vowels are essentially a type of front vowel; no language is known to contrast front and near-front vowels based on backness alone.
Rounded front vowels are typically centralized, that is, near-front in their articulation. This is one reason they are written to the right of unrounded front vowels in the IPA vowel chart.
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
The front vowels that have dedicated symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:
There also are front vowels without dedicated symbols in the IPA:
As above, other front vowels can be indicated with diacritics of relative articulation applied to letters for neighboring vowels, such as ⟨i̞⟩, ⟨e̝⟩ or ⟨ɪ̟⟩ for a near-close front unrounded vowel.
In articulation, front vowels contrast with raised vowels and retracted vowels. In this conception, front vowels are a broader category than those listed in the IPA chart, including [ɪ ʏ], [ɨ ʉ], and, marginally, mid-central vowels. Raised or retracted vowels may be fronted by certain consonants, such as palatals and in some languages pharyngeals. For example, /a/ may be fronted to [æ] next to /j/ or /ħ/.
In the history of many languages, for example French and Japanese, front vowels have altered preceding velar or alveolar consonants, bringing their place of articulation towards palatal or postalveolar. This change can be allophonic variation, or it can have become phonemic.
This historical palatalization is reflected in the orthographies of several European languages, including the ⟨c⟩ and ⟨g⟩ of almost all Romance languages, the ⟨k⟩ and ⟨g⟩ in Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic, and the ⟨κ⟩, ⟨γ⟩ and ⟨χ⟩ in Greek. English follows the French pattern, but without as much regularity. However, for native or early borrowed words affected by palatalization, English has generally altered the spelling after the pronunciation (Examples include cheap, church, cheese, churn from /*k/, and yell, yarn, yearn, yeast from /*ɡ/.)
|Before back vowel: hard||Before front vowel: soft|
|English ⟨C⟩||call /kɔːl/||cell /sɛl/|
|English ⟨G⟩||gall /ɡɔːl/||gel /dʒɛl/|
|French ⟨C⟩||Calais [kalɛ] (listen)||cela [səla] (listen)|
|French ⟨G⟩||gare [ɡaʁ] (listen)||gel [ʒɛl] (listen)|
|Greek ⟨Γ⟩||γάιδαρος [ˈɣai̯ðaros] (listen)||γη [ʝi] (listen)|
|Greek ⟨Χ⟩||Χανιά [xaˈɲa] (listen)||χαίρετε [ˈçerete] (listen)|
|Italian ⟨C⟩||caro [ˈkaːro] (listen)||ciao [ˈtʃaːo] (listen)|
|Italian ⟨G⟩||gatto [ˈɡatːo] (listen)||gente [ˈdʒɛnte] (listen)|
|Italian ⟨SC⟩||pesca [ˈpeska] (listen)||pesce [ˈpeʃːe] (listen)|
|Japanese ⟨S⟩||sūdoku [sɯꜜːdokɯ] (listen)||shiitake [ɕiꜜːtake] (listen)[a]|
|Japanese ⟨T⟩||atatakai [atatakaꜜi] (listen)||dotchi [dotꜜtɕi] (listen)[a]|
|Swedish ⟨K⟩||karta [²kɑːʈa] (listen)||kär [ɕæːr] (listen)|
|Swedish ⟨G⟩||god [ɡuːd] (listen)||göra [²jœːra] (listen)|
|Swedish ⟨SK⟩||skal [skɑːl] (listen)||skälla [²ɧɛlːa] (listen)|
A central vowel, formerly also known as a mixed vowel, is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel. (In practice, unrounded central vowels tend to be further forward and rounded central vowels further back.)Close-mid front rounded vowel
The close-mid front rounded vowel, or high-mid front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. Acoustically, it is a close-mid front-central rounded vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the sound is ⟨ø⟩, a lowercase letter o with a diagonal stroke through it, borrowed from Danish, Norwegian, and Faroese, which sometimes use the letter to represent the sound. The symbol is commonly referred to as "o, slash" in English.
For the close-mid front rounded vowel that is usually transcribed with the symbol ⟨ʏ⟩ or ⟨y⟩, see near-close front rounded vowel. If the usual symbol is ⟨ø⟩, the vowel is listed here.Close-mid front unrounded vowel
The close-mid front unrounded vowel, or high-mid front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨e⟩.
For the close-mid front rounded vowel that is usually transcribed with the symbol ⟨ɪ⟩ or ⟨i⟩, see near-close front unrounded vowel. If the usual symbol is ⟨e⟩, the vowel is listed here.Close front rounded vowel
The close front rounded vowel, or high front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is a close front-central rounded vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨y⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is y. Across many languages, it is most commonly represented orthographically as ⟨ü⟩ (in German, Turkish and Basque) or ⟨y⟩, but also as ⟨u⟩ (in French and a few other Romance languages and also in Dutch and the Kernewek Kemmyn standard of Cornish); ⟨iu⟩/⟨yu⟩ (in the romanization of various Asian languages); ⟨ű⟩ (in Hungarian for the long duration version; the short version is the ⟨ü⟩ found in other European alphabets); or ⟨уь⟩ (in Cyrillic-based writing systems such as that for Chechen)
Short /y/ and long /yː/ occurred in pre-Modern Greek. In the Attic and Ionic dialects of Ancient Greek, front [y yː] developed by fronting from back /u uː/ around the 6th to 7th century BC. A little later, the diphthong /yi/ when not before another vowel monophthongized and merged with long /yː/. In Koine Greek, the diphthong /oi/ changed to [yː], likely through the intermediate stages [øi] and [øː]. Through vowel shortening in Koine Greek, long /yː/ merged with short /y/. Later, /y/ unrounded to [i], yielding the pronunciation of Modern Greek. For more information, see the articles on Ancient Greek and Koine Greek phonology.
The close front rounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the labialized palatal approximant [ɥ]. The two are almost identical featurally. [y] alternates with [ɥ] in certain languages, such as French, and in the diphthongs of some languages, ⟨y̑⟩ with the non-syllabic diacritic and ⟨ɥ⟩ are used in different transcription systems to represent the same sound.
In most languages, this rounded vowel is pronounced with compressed lips ('exolabial'). However, in a few cases the lips are protruded ('endolabial').Close front unrounded vowel
The close front unrounded vowel, or high front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound that occurs in most spoken languages, represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet by the symbol i. It is similar to the vowel sound in the English word meet—and often called long-e in American English. Although in English this sound has additional length (usually being represented as /iː/) and is not normally pronounced as a pure vowel (it is a slight diphthong), some dialects have been reported to pronounce the phoneme as a pure sound. A pure [i] sound is also heard in many other languages, such as French, in words like chic.
The close front unrounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the palatal approximant [j]. The two are almost identical featurally. They alternate with each other in certain languages, such as French, and in the diphthongs of some languages, [i̯] with the non-syllabic diacritic and [j] are used in different transcription systems to represent the same sound.
Languages that use the Latin script commonly use the letter ⟨i⟩ to represent this sound, though there are some exceptions: in English orthography that letter is usually associated with /aɪ/ (as in bite) or /ɪ/ (as in bit), and /iː/ is more commonly represented by ⟨e⟩, ⟨ea⟩, ⟨ee⟩, ⟨ie⟩ or ⟨ei⟩, as in the words scene, bean, meet, niece, conceive; (see Great Vowel Shift). Irish orthography reflects both etymology and whether preceding consonants are broad or slender, so such combinations as ⟨aí⟩, ⟨ei⟩, and ⟨aío⟩ all represent /iː/.Front rounded vowel
A front rounded vowel is a particular type of vowel that is both front and rounded.
The front rounded vowels defined by the IPA include:
[y], a close front rounded vowel (or "high front rounded vowel")
[ʏ], a near-close front rounded vowel (or "near-high ...")
[ø], a close-mid front rounded vowel (or "high-mid ...")
[ø̞], a mid front rounded vowel
[œ], an open-mid front rounded vowel (or "low-mid ...")
[ɶ], an open front rounded vowel (or "low ...")Front rounded vowels are cross-linguistically relatively uncommon, but occur in a number of well-known languages, including French, German, Turkish and Chinese.
The high vowel [y] is the most common, while the low vowel [ɶ] is extremely rare. This is consistent with the general correlation between rounding and vowel height.
Language families in which front-rounded vowels are common are:
Sino-Tibetan languages (e.g. Standard Chinese, Standard Tibetan)
Various Indo-European languages:
Gallo-Romance languages, a subset of the Romance languages (e.g. French, Occitan, Lombard)
Turkic languages (e.g. Turkish, Azerbaijani)
Uralic languages (e.g. Finnish, Hungarian)I-mutation
I-mutation (also known as umlaut, front mutation, i-umlaut, i/j-mutation or i/j-umlaut) is a type of sound change in which a back vowel is fronted or a front vowel is raised if the following syllable contains /i/, /ī/ or /j/ (a voiced palatal approximant, sometimes called yod, the sound of English ⟨y⟩ in yes). It is a category of regressive metaphony, or vowel harmony.
The term is usually used by scholars of the Germanic languages: it is particularly important in the history of the Germanic languages because inflectional suffixes with an /i/ or /j/ led to many vowel alternations that are still important in the morphology of the languages.Mid front unrounded vowel
The mid front unrounded vowel is a type of vowel sound that is used in some spoken languages. There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the exact mid front unrounded vowel between close-mid [e] and open-mid [ɛ], but it is normally written ⟨e⟩. If precision is required, diacritics may be used, such as ⟨e̞⟩ or ⟨ɛ̝⟩ (the former, indicating lowering, being more common). In Sinology and Koreanology ⟨ᴇ⟩, (small capital E, U+1D07, ᴇ) is sometimes used, for example in the Zhengzhang Shangfang reconstructions.
For many of the languages that have only one phonemic front unrounded vowel in the mid-vowel area (neither close nor open), the vowel is pronounced as a true mid vowel and is phonetically distinct from either a close-mid or open-mid vowel. Examples are Basque, Spanish, Romanian, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Greek, Hejazi Arabic, Serbo-Croatian and Korean (Seoul dialect). A number of dialects of English also have such a mid front vowel. However, there is no general predisposition. Igbo and Egyptian Arabic, for example, have a close-mid [e], and Bulgarian has an open-mid [ɛ], but none of these languages have another phonemic mid front vowel.
Kensiu, spoken in Malaysia and Thailand, is claimed to be unique in having true-mid vowels that are phonemically distinct from both close-mid and open-mid vowels, without differences in other parameters such as backness or roundedness.New Zealand English phonology
This article covers the phonological system of New Zealand English. While New Zealanders speak differently depending on their level of cultivation (i.e. the closeness to Received Pronunciation), unless otherwise noted, this article covers the accent as it is spoken by educated speakers. The IPA transcription is one designed by Bauer et al. (2007) specifically to faithfully represent a New Zealand accent, which this article follows in most aspects (see the transcription systems table below).Open-mid front rounded vowel
The open-mid front rounded vowel, or low-mid front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically, it is an open-mid front-central rounded vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the sound is ⟨œ⟩. The symbol œ is a lowercase ligature of the letters o and e. The sound ⟨ɶ⟩, a small capital version of the ⟨Œ⟩ ligature, is used for a distinct vowel sound: the open front rounded vowel.Open-mid front unrounded vowel
The open-mid front unrounded vowel, or low-mid front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is a Latinized variant of the Greek lowercase epsilon, ⟨ɛ⟩.Open central unrounded vowel
The open central unrounded vowel, or low central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. While the International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no dedicated letter for this sound between front [a] and back [ɑ], it is normally written ⟨a⟩. If precision is required, it can be specified by using diacritics, such as centralized ⟨ä⟩ or retracted ⟨a̠⟩.
Acoustically, however, the open front [a] is an extra-low central vowel. It is more common to use plain ⟨a⟩ for an open central vowel and, if needed, ⟨æ⟩ (officially near-open front vowel) for an open front vowel. Alternatively, Sinologists may use the letter ⟨ᴀ⟩ (small capital A). The IPA has voted against officially adopting this symbol in 1976, 1989, and 2012.The Hamont dialect of Limburgish has been reported to contrast long open front, central and back unrounded vowels. This is extremely unusual.Open front rounded vowel
The (near) open front rounded vowel, or (near) low front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, not confirmed to be phonemic in any spoken languages. While traditionally characterized as a fully open (low) vowel, the rounded equivalent of [a], acoustically it is near-open (or near-low), the rounded equivalent of [æ]. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɶ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is &. The letter ⟨ɶ⟩ is a small caps rendition of ⟨Œ⟩. Note that ⟨œ⟩, the lowercase version of the ligature, is used for the open-mid front rounded vowel.
A phoneme generally transcribed by this symbol is reported from the Bavarian subdialect of Amstetten. However, phonetically it is open-mid, i.e. [œ].It occurs allophonically in Weert Limburgish as well as in some speakers of Danish and Swedish. In certain transcriptions of Danish ⟨ɶ⟩ is used to denote an open-mid front rounded vowel [œ].Riad (2014) reports that [ɶː] in Stockholm Swedish is sometimes difficult to distinguish from [ɒː] (which is the main realization of the /ɑː/ phoneme). He states that it is a sign that these vowels are phonetically very close.Open front unrounded vowel
The open front unrounded vowel, or low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. It is one of the eight primary cardinal vowels, not directly intended to correspond to a vowel sound of a specific language but rather to serve as a fundamental reference point in a phonetic measuring system.The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) that represents this sound is ⟨a⟩, and in the IPA vowel chart it is positioned at the lower-left corner. However, the accuracy of the quadrilateral vowel chart is disputed, and the sound has been analyzed acoustically as an extra-open/low unrounded vowel at a position where the front/back distinction has lost its significance. There are also differing interpretations of the exact quality of the vowel: the classic sound recording of [a] by Daniel Jones is slightly more front but not quite as open as that by John Wells.In practice, it is considered normal by many phoneticians to use the symbol ⟨a⟩ for an open central unrounded vowel and instead approximate the open front unrounded vowel with ⟨æ⟩ (which officially signifies a near-open front unrounded vowel). This is the usual practice, for example, in the historical study of the English language. The loss of separate symbols for open and near-open front vowels is usually considered unproblematic, because the perceptual difference between the two is quite small, and very few languages contrast the two. If there is a need to specify the backness of the vowel as fully front one can use the symbol ⟨æ̞⟩, which denotes a lowered near-open front unrounded vowel.
The Hamont dialect of Limburgish has been reported to contrast long open front, central and back unrounded vowels. This is extremely unusual.Palatalization (sound change)
In linguistics, palatalization is a sound change that either results in a palatal or palatalized consonant or a front vowel, or is triggered by one of them. Palatalization involves change in the place or manner of articulation of consonants, or the fronting or raising of vowels. In some cases, palatalization involves assimilation or lenition.
An example of palatalization in English is one of the possible pronunciations of did you? as [dɪdʒuː] rather than [dɪdjuː]Scottish Gaelic orthography
Scottish Gaelic orthography has evolved over many centuries. Scottish Gaelic spelling is mainly based on etymological considerations.
Due to the etymological nature of the writing system, the same written form may result in a multitude of pronunciations depending on the spoken variant. For example, the word coimhead "watching" may result in [ˈkʰõ.ət̪], [ˈkʰɔ̃jət̪], [ˈkʰɤi.ət̪], or [ˈkʰɛ̃.ət̪].Umlaut (linguistics)
In linguistics, umlaut (from German "sound alteration") is a sound change in which a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined in connection with the study of Germanic languages, as it had occurred prominently in the history of many of them (see Germanic umlaut). While a common English plural is umlauts, the German plural is Umlaute.
Umlaut is a form of assimilation, the process of one speech sound becoming more similar to a nearby sound. If a word has two vowels, one far back in the mouth and the other far forward, it takes more effort to pronounce. If the vowels were closer together, it would take less effort. Thus, one way the language may change is that these two vowels get be drawn closer together.
In the general sense, umlaut is essentially the same as regressive metaphony.
The most commonly seen types of umlaut are the following:
Vowel raising, triggered by a following high vowel (often specifically a high front vowel such as /i/).
Vowel fronting, triggered by a following front vowel (often specifically a high front vowel such as /i/).
Vowel lowering, triggered by a following non-high vowel (often specifically a low vowel such as /a/).
Vowel rounding, triggered by a following rounded vowel (often specifically a high rounded vowel such as /u/).These processes may be named by the vowel that triggers the change (for example, i-mutation, a-mutation, u-mutation, sometimes known as i-umlaut, a-umlaut, u-umlaut). However, processes named in this fashion may not have consistent meanings across language families.
All of these processes occurred in the history of the Germanic languages; see Germanic umlaut for more details. I-mutation is the most prominent of the processes, to the extent that it is often referred to simply as "umlaut".
Similar processes also occurred in the history of the Celtic languages, especially Old Irish. In this context, these processes are often referred to as affection.
Vowel-raising umlaut occurred in the history of many of the Romance languages, in which it is normally termed metaphony.
The umlaut vowel diacritic (two dots side-by-side above a vowel) was originally used to indicate vowels affected by Germanic umlaut.Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. A vowel or vowels in a word must be members of the same class (thus "in harmony"). In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other. Suffixes and prefixes will usually follow vowel harmony rules. Many agglutinative languages have vowel harmony.Yus
Little yus (Ѧ ѧ) and big yus (Ѫ ѫ), or jus, are letters of the Cyrillic script representing two Common Slavonic nasal vowels in the early Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets. Each can occur in iotified form (Ѩ ѩ, Ѭ ѭ), formed as ligatures with the decimal i (І). Other yus letters are blended yus (Ꙛ ꙛ), closed little yus (Ꙙ ꙙ) and iotified closed little yus (Ꙝ ꙝ).
Phonetically, little yus represents a nasalized front vowel, possibly [ɛ̃], while big yus represents a nasalized back vowel, such as IPA [ɔ̃]. This is also suggested by the appearance of each as a 'stacked' digraph of 'Am' and 'om' respectively.
The names of the letters do not imply capitalization, as both little and big yus exist in majuscule and minuscule variants.