Close front unrounded vowel

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Close front unrounded vowel
IPA number 301
Entity (decimal) i
Unicode (hex) U+0069
Kirshenbaum i
Braille ⠊ (braille pattern dots-24)

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[1]—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) – a purer [i] sound is 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/.


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 often they are in fact near-front.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Standard[2] دين [d̪iːn] 'religion' See Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[3] իմ [im] 'my'
Bavarian Amstetten dialect[4] [example needed]
Catalan[5] sis [ˈs̠is̠] 'six' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Mandarin[6] /qī About this sound [tɕʰi˥]  'seven' See Standard Chinese phonology
Czech Moravian[7] byli [ˈbili] 'they were' Corresponds to [e] (also described as [ɪ])[8] in Bohemian Czech.[7] See Czech phonology
Standard[8][9] bílý About this sound [ˈbiːliː]  'white' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[10][11][12] mile [ˈmiːlə] 'dune' See Danish phonology
Dutch[13] biet About this sound [bit]  'beet' See Dutch phonology
English[14] free About this sound [fɹiː]  'free' Depending on dialect, can be pronounced as a diphthong. See English phonology
Estonian[15] tiik [tiːk] 'pond' See Estonian phonology
Finnish[16][17] viisi [ˈviːsi] 'five' See Finnish phonology
French[18] fini [fini] 'finished' See French phonology
Georgian[19] სამ [ˈsɑmi] 'three'
German Standard[20] Ziel About this sound [t͡siːl]  'goal' See German phonology
Hindustani बच्ची [bət͡ʃiː] 'girl' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian[21] ív [iːv] 'arch' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[22][23][24] fínt [fin̥t] 'fine' See Icelandic phonology
Italian[25] bile [ˈbiːle] 'rage' See Italian phonology
Japanese[26] /gin About this sound [ɡʲiɴ]  'silver' See Japanese phonology
Kaingang[27] [ˈndukːi] 'in the belly'
Limburgish[28][29][30][31] bies [bis] 'animal' The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Luxembourgish[32][33] Kiischt [kʰiːʃt] 'cherry' See Luxembourgish phonology
Polish[34] miś About this sound [ˈmʲiɕ]  'teddy bear' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[35] fino [ˈfinu] 'thin' Also occurs as an unstressed allophone of other vowels. May be represented by ⟨y⟩. See Portuguese phonology
Russian[36] лист About this sound [lʲis̪t̪]  'leaf' Only occurs word-initially or after palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Sema[37] pi [pì] 'to say' Also described as near-close front [].[38]
Shiwiar[39] [example needed]
Sioux Lakota[40][41] ǧí [ʀí] 'it's brown'
Slovak[42] rýchly [ˈriːxli] 'fast' Backness varies between front and near-front; most commonly, it is realized as near-close [ɪ] instead.[43] See Slovak phonology
Spanish[44] tipo [ˈt̪ipo̞] 'type' May also be represented by ⟨y⟩. See Spanish phonology
Thai[45] กริช [krìt] 'dagger'
Turkish[46][47] ip [ip] 'rope' See Turkish phonology
Yoruba[48] [example needed]
Zapotec Tilquiapan[49] diza [d̪iza] 'Zapotec'


  1. Maddox, Maeve. "DailyWritingTips: The Six Spellings of "Long E"". Retrieved July 20, 2014. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Thelwall (1990:38)
  3. Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  4. Traunmüller (1982), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:290)
  5. Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:54)
  6. Lee & Zee (2003:110))
  7. 7.0 7.1 Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012:228–229)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dankovičová (1999:72)
  9. Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012:228)
  10. Grønnum (2005:268)
  11. Basbøll (2005:45)
  12. "John Wells's phonetic blog: Danish". 5 November 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Wells's impression is that this vowel is slightly centralized [ï].
  13. Gussenhoven (1992:47)
  14. Roach (2004:240)
  15. Asu & Teras (2009:368)
  16. Iivonen & Harnud (2005:60, 66)
  17. Suomi, Toivanen & Ylitalo (2008:21)
  18. Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
  19. Shosted & Chikovani (2006:261–262)
  20. Kohler (1999:87), Mangold (2005:37)
  21. Szende (1994:92)
  22. Árnason (2011:60)
  23. Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  24. Haugen (1958:65)
  25. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:119)
  26. Okada (1991:94)
  27. Jolkesky (2009:676–677 and 682)
  28. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  29. Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998:110)
  30. Peters (2006:119)
  31. Verhoeven (2007:221)
  32. Trouvain & Gilles (2009:75)
  33. Gilles & Trouvain (2013:70)
  34. Jassem (2003:105)
  35. Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  36. Jones & Ward (1969:30)
  37. Teo (2014:27)
  38. Teo (2012:368)
  39. Fast Mowitz (1975:2)
  40. Rood & Taylor (1996)
  41. Lakota Language Consortium (2004). ALPHABET alphabet.htm Lakota letters and sounds.
  42. Pavlík (2004:95)
  43. Pavlík (2004:93, 95)
  44. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:256)
  45. Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993:24)
  46. Zimmer & Organ (1999:155)
  47. Göksel & Kerslake (2005:10)
  48. Bamgboṣe (1969:166)
  49. Merrill (2008:109)


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