Near-close Central Compressed Vowel
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Near-close Central Compressed Vowel
Close central rounded vowel
IPA Number318
Entity (decimal)ʉ
Unicode (hex)U+0289
Braille? (braille pattern dots-356)? (braille pattern dots-136)
Audio sample

The close central rounded vowel, or high central 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 ⟨?⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is }. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "barred u".

The close central rounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the rare labialized post-palatal approximant [?].[2]

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

Some languages feature the near-close central rounded vowel, which is slightly lower. It is most often transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩, but other transcriptions such as ⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩ are also possible. The symbol ⟨?⟩, a conflation of ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, is used as an unofficial extension of the IPA to represent this sound by a number of publications, such as Accents of English by John C. Wells. In the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, ⟨?⟩ represents free variation between /?/ and /?/.

Close central protruded vowel

The close central protruded vowel is typically transcribed in IPA simply as ⟨?⟩, and that is the convention used in this article. As there is no dedicated diacritic for protrusion in the IPA, symbol for the close central rounded vowel with an old diacritic for labialization, ⟨  ?⟩, can be used as an ad hoc symbol ⟨⟩ for the close central protruded vowel. Another possible transcription is ⟨⟩ or ⟨⟩ (a close central vowel modified by endolabialization), but this could be misread as a diphthong.


  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned close to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel.
  • Its roundedness is protruded, which means that the corners of the lips are drawn together, and the inner surfaces exposed.


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

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Angami Khonoma[3] su [s] 'deep' Allophone of /u/ after /s/.[3]
Armenian Some Eastern dialects[4] ??/yow? [j] 'oil' Allophone of /u/ after /j/.
Berber Ayt Seghrouchen[5] /llayggur [l:æj'?:] 'he goes' Allophone of /u/ after velar consonants.
Dutch Standard Northern[6] nu [n?] 'now' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨y⟩; also described as close front [7] and near-close front .[8] See Dutch phonology
Randstad[9] hut [t] 'hut' Found in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Lower in Standard Dutch.[9] See Dutch phonology
English Australian[10] goose [:s] 'goose' See Australian English phonology
England[11][12] Can be back or front instead. The rounding is variable in some varieties.[13]
New Zealand[14] See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[15] Realized as back in the conservative variety.[15]
South African[16] Realized as back in the conservative variety and in many Black and Indian varieties.[16] See South African English phonology
General American[17] [s] Can be back instead.[17]
Estuary[18] foot [ft] 'foot' The exact height, backness and roundedness is variable.[18]
Cockney[19] good [d] 'good' Only in some words, particularly good, otherwise realized as near-back .[19]
Rural white Southern American[20] Can be front instead.[20]
Southeastern English[21] May be unrounded instead;[21] it corresponds to in other dialects. See English phonology
Ulster[22] Short allophone of /u/.[22]
Shetland[23] strut [stt] 'strut' Can be or instead.[23]
German Upper Saxon[24] Buden ['b:d?n?] 'booths' The example word is from the Chemnitz dialect.
Hausa[25] [example needed] Allophone of /u/.[25]
Ibibio Dialect of the Uruan area and Uyo[26] fuuk [fk] 'cover many things/times' Allophone of /u/ between consonants.[26]
Some dialects[26] [example needed] Phonemic; contrasts with /u/.[26]
Irish Munster[27] ciúin [c?:n?] 'quiet' Allophone of /u/ between slender consonants.[27] See Irish phonology
Ulster[28] úllaí [?i][stress?] 'apples' Often only weakly rounded;[28] may be transcribed in IPA with ⟨u⟩.
Limburgish Some dialects[29][30] bruudsje ['bt] 'breadroll' Close [?][29] or near-close [],[30] depending on the dialect. Close front in other dialects.[31] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨y⟩. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect, in which the vowel is close.
Lüsu[32] [lz] 'Lüsu'
Russian[33] ??/kyuriy/kjurij ['krj] 'curium' Allophone of /u/ between palatalized consonants. Near-close when unstressed.[33] See Russian phonology
Scots[34] buit [b?t] 'boot' May be more front instead.[34]
Swedish Bohuslän[35] yla [²:lä] 'howl' A fricated vowel that corresponds to in Central Standard Swedish.[35] See Swedish phonology
Tamil[36] ?/v?lu [vä:l?] 'tail' Epenthetic vowel inserted in colloquial speech after word-final liquids; can be unrounded instead.[36] See Tamil phonology

Close central compressed vowel

Close central compressed vowel

As there is no official diacritic for compression in the IPA, the centering diacritic is used with the front rounded vowel [y], which is normally compressed. Other possible transcriptions are ⟨?⟩ (simultaneous [?] and labial compression) and ⟨⟩ ([?] modified with labial compression[37]).


  • Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which means the tongue is positioned close to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel.
  • 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.


This vowel is typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨?⟩. It occurs in some dialects of Swedish, but see also close front compressed vowel. The close back vowels of Norwegian and Swedish are also compressed. See close back compressed vowel. It also occurs in Japanese as an allophone. Medumba has a compressed central vowel [] where the corners of the mouth are not drawn together.[38]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Japanese Some younger speakers[39] / k?ki [kÿ:ki] 'air' Near-back for other speakers.[39]
Standard Tokyo pronunciation / sushi [sÿ?i] 'sushi' Allophone of /u/ after /s, z, t/ and palatalized consonants.[40] See Japanese phonology
Norwegian Urban East[41][42] hus [hÿ:s] 'house' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨?:⟩. Also described as front .[43] See Norwegian phonology
Swedish Some dialects ful [fÿ:l] 'ugly' More front [y: ~ ?:] in Central Standard Swedish; typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨?:⟩. See Swedish phonology

See also


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Instead of "post-palatal", it can be called "retracted palatal", "backed palatal", "palato-velar", "pre-velar", "advanced velar", "fronted velar" or "front-velar".
  3. ^ a b Blankenship et al. (1993), p. 129.
  4. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 14.
  5. ^ Abdel-Massih (1971), p. 20.
  6. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  7. ^ Gussenhoven (2007), p. 30.
  8. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 132.
  9. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003:128, 131). The source describes the Standard Dutch vowel as front-central , but more sources (e.g. van Heuven & Genet (2002) and Verhoeven (2005)) describe it as central . As far as the raised varieties of this vowel are concerned, Collins and Mees do not describe their exact backness.
  10. ^ Harrington, Cox & Evans (1997).
  11. ^ Schneider et al. (2004), pp. 138, 170, 188, 190.
  12. ^ Watson (2007), p. 357.
  13. ^ Schneider et al. (2004), pp. 121, 138, 188, 190.
  14. ^ Schneider et al. (2004), p. 582.
  15. ^ a b Gimson (2014), p. 133.
  16. ^ a b Lass (2002), p. 116.
  17. ^ a b Wells (1982), pp. 476, 487.
  18. ^ a b Schneider et al. (2004), pp. 188, 191-192.
  19. ^ a b Mott (2011), p. 75.
  20. ^ a b Thomas (2004), pp. 303, 308.
  21. ^ a b Lodge (2009), p. 174.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ a b Melchers (2004), p. 42.
  24. ^ Khan & Weise (2013), p. 236.
  25. ^ a b Schuh & Yalwa (1999), p. 90.
  26. ^ a b c d Urua (2004), p. 106.
  27. ^ a b Ó Sé (2000), p. ?.
  28. ^ a b Ní Chasaide (1999), p. 114.
  29. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 159.
  30. ^ a b Verhoeven (2007), pp. 221, 223.
  31. ^ Peters (2006), p. 119.
  32. ^ Chirkova & Chen (2013), p. 75.
  33. ^ a b Jones & Ward (1969), pp. 38, 67-68.
  34. ^ a b Schneider et al. (2004), p. 54.
  35. ^ a b c Riad (2014), p. 21.
  36. ^ a b Keane (2004), p. 114.
  37. ^ e.g. in Flemming (2002) Auditory representations in phonology, p. 83.
  38. ^ [1]
  39. ^ a b Okada (1999), p. 118.
  40. ^ Labrune, Laurence (2012). The Phonology of Japanese. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-19-954583-4.
  41. ^ Strandskogen (1979), pp. 15, 21.
  42. ^ Popperwell (2010), pp. 16, 29.
  43. ^ Vanvik (1979), pp. 13, 18.


External links

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