The Full Wiki

More info on Near-close near-back vowel

Near-close near-back vowel: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See also: IPA, Consonants
  Front Near- front Central Near- back Back
Blank vowel trapezoid.svg
i · y
ɨ · ʉ
ɯ · u
ɪ · ʏ
e · ø
ɘ · ɵ
ɤ · o
ɛ · œ
ɜ · ɞ
ʌ · ɔ
a · ɶ
ɑ · ɒ
Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents
a rounded vowel. Vowel length is indicated by appending  
IPA – number 321
IPA – text ʊ
IPA – image {{{imagesize}}}
Entity ʊ
Kirshenbaum U
About this sound Sound sample

The near-close near-back vowel is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet for the near-close near-back rounded vowel is ‹ʊ›. This derives from a small turned capital Ω; although officially called a small Latin letter upsilon, it bears little resemblance to the Greek upsilon and is informally called "horseshoe u" instead. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is U. Prior to 1989, there was an alternate IPA symbol for this sound, ‹ɷ›, called "closed omega". Use of this symbol is no longer sanctioned by the IPA. In Americanist phonetic notation, the symbol [ᴜ] (a small capital U) is used.

Some languages may have a near-close near-back unrounded vowel; since no language is known to contrast rounding of this vowel, the IPA has not devised a standard way to represent this and thus can be represented in a number of ways, including ‹ɯ̽› and ‹ʊ̜›.

There is also a near-close central rounded vowel in some languages.



  • Its vowel height is near-close, which means the tongue is positioned similarly to a close vowel, but slightly less constricted.
  • Its vowel backness is near-back, which means the tongue is positioned as in a back vowel, but slightly further forward in the mouth.
  • Its vowel roundedness is generally rounded, which means that the lips are rounded to a greater or lesser degree, but is sometimes rather ambiguous. Because no language is known to contrast rounding this place of articulation, the IPA has not created separate symbols to show this.


In the following transcriptions, an unrounded vowel is represented by the "less-rounded" diacritic [ʊ̜]:

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic كتب [ˈkʊtʊb] 'books' See Arabic phonology
Chinese Cantonese [hʊ̜ŋ] 'red' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin [xʊ̜ŋ˧˥] 'red' May be only slightly rounded. See Mandarin phonology
English hook [hʊk] 'hook' May be only slightly rounded. See English phonology
Faroese hvalur [kvɛalʊɹ] 'whale'
French Quebec foule [fʊl] 'crowd' See French phonology
German Schutz [ʃʊts] 'protection' See German phonology
Mongolian[1] өлгий [ʊɮɣiː] 'cradle'
Portuguese European[2] pegar [pʊ̜ˈɡaɾ] 'to hold' Unstressed vowel. See Portuguese phonology
Brazilian[3] saco [ˈsakʊ] 'bag'
Russian[4] сухой [sʊˈxo̞j] 'dry' Unstressed allophone of /u/. See Russian phonology
Swedish ort Sv-ort.ogg [ʊʈ] '(geographic) place' Exolabial (compressed). See Swedish phonology
Vietnamese thu [tʰʊw] 'autumn' See Vietnamese phonology



  • Barbosa, Plínio A.; Albano, Eleonora C. (2004), "Brazilian Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 227–232 
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1-2): 53–56 
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94 
  • 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 
  • Jones, Daniel; Dennis, Ward (1969). The Phonetics of Russian. Cambridge University Press. 


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address