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Close front rounded vowel
IPA number 309
Entity (decimal) y
Unicode (hex) U+0079
Kirshenbaum y

The close front rounded vowel, or high front rounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. 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 and Turkish) or y, but also as u (in French and a few other Romance languages); 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)

The IPA prefers terms "close" and "open" for vowels, and the name of the article follows this. However, a large number of linguists, perhaps a majority, prefer the terms "high" and "low".

In most languages, this rounded vowel is pronounced with compressed lips ('exolabial'). However, in a few cases the lips are protruded ('endolabial').

Close front compressed vowel[edit]


IPA vowel chart
Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
Paired vowels are: unrounded • rounded
This table contains phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers. [Help]

IPA help • IPA key • chart • Loudspeaker.svg chart with audio • view
  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Note that rounded front vowels are often centralized, which means that they're 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.


Note: Since 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
Afrikaans uur [yːr] 'hour'
Albanian dy [dy] 'two'
Azeri güllə [ɟylˈlæ] 'bullet'
Basque Souletin hirü [hiɾy] 'three'
Breton tud [tyːd] 'people'
Catalan Northern but [byt̪] 'aim' Found in Occitan and French loanwords. See Catalan phonology
Chechen уьш / üş [yʃ] 'they'
Chinese Cantonese syu1 [syː˥] 'book' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin 绿 lǜ [ly˥˩] 'green' See Mandarin phonology
Wu gniu [ɲy˩˧] 'soft'
Chuvash ÿс / üs [ys] 'to grow'
Cornish tus [tyːz] 'people' Corresponds to /iː/ in "Late" dialect.
Danish yde [ˈyːð̞ə] 'to supply' See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard Belgian[1] fuut About this sound [fÿt]  'grebe' Centralized; it corresponds to [ʉ̞] in the Netherlands. See Dutch phonology
English General
South African[2]
few [fjy:] 'few' Some younger speakers, especially females. Others pronounce a more central vowel [ʉː].
Scouse[3] May be central [ʉː] instead.
Ulster[4] Long allophone of /u/; occurs only after /j/. See English phonology
Scottish [fjy] Some dialects. Corresponds to [u ~ ʉ] in other dialects. See English phonology
Estonian üks [yks] 'one'
Finnish[5] yksi [ˈÿksi] 'one' Centralized.[6] See Finnish phonology
French[7] chute About this sound [ʃyt̪]  'fall' See French phonology
German Standard[8] über About this sound [ˈʔÿːbɐ]  'above' Centralized.[8] See German phonology
Hungarian[9] tű [t̪ÿː] 'pin' Centralized. See Hungarian phonology
Lombard düü [dyː] 'two'
Mongolian[10] түймэр tüimer [tʰyːmɘɾɘ̆] 'prairie fire'
North Frisian hüüs [hyːs] 'hoarse'
Occitan Gascon lua [ˈlyo̞] 'moon' See Occitan phonology
Languedocien luna [ˈlyno̞]
Portuguese[11] Brazilian déjà vu [d̪e̞ʒɐ ˈvy] 'déjà vu' Found in French and German loanwords. Speakers with little contact with target language may instead use [u], if unstressed, or [i], if stressed. See Portuguese phonology
Scots buit [byt] 'boot'
Turkish[12] güneş [ɟÿˈneʃ] 'sun' Centralized. See Turkish phonology

Close front protruded vowel[edit]

Close front protruded vowel

Catford notes 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 ones, have protruded front vowels. One of these, Swedish, even contrasts the two types of rounding in front vowels (see near-close near-front rounded vowel, with Swedish examples of both types of rounding).

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



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Norwegian Standard Eastern[13] syd [sy̫ːd] 'south' See Norwegian phonology
Swedish Central Standard[14] yla About this sound [y̫ːl̪ä]  'howl' May be a sequence [yɥ] instead.[15] See Swedish phonology

See also[edit]



  • Engstrand, Olle (1999), "Swedish", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the usage of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 140, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L. (1993), "French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Iivonen, Antti; Harnud, Huhe (2005), "Acoustical comparison of the monophthong systems in Finnish, Mongolian and Udmurt", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (1): 59–71, doi:10.1017/S002510030500191X 
  • Kohler, Klaus J. (1999), "German", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 86–89, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 
  • Mangold, Max (2005), Das Aussprachewörterbuch, Duden, ISBN 9783411040667 
  • Szende, Tamás (1994), "Hungarian", Journal of the International Phonetic Alphabet 24 (2): 91–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005090 
  • Vanvik, Arne (1979), Norsk fonetik, Oslo: Universitetet i Oslo, ISBN 82-990584-0-6 
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173 
  • Watson, Kevin (2007), "Liverpool English", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (3): 351–360 
  • Suomi, Kari; Toivanen, Juhani; Ylitalo, Riikka (2008), Finish sound structure, ISBN 978-951-42-8983-5 
  • Zimmer, Karl; Orgun, Orhan (1999), "Turkish", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 154–158, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 

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