Near-close near-back vowel

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Near-close near-back rounded vowel
IPA number 321
Entity (decimal) ʊ
Unicode (hex) U+028A
Kirshenbaum U
Braille ⠷ (braille pattern dots-12356)

The near-close near-back vowel, or near-high near-back vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some vocal languages. The IPA symbol for the near-close near-back rounded vowel is ⟨ʊ⟩. It is informally called "horseshoe 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 ⟨⟩ (a small capital U) is used.

The IPA prefers the 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".

Some languages may have a near-close near-back unrounded vowel, which can be represented with ⟨ɯ̽⟩ or ⟨ʊ̜⟩ in the IPA, or sometimes with the old convention of ⟨ω⟩.[1] A near-close near-back compressed vowel can be transcribed ⟨ʊᵝ⟩.

Near-close near-back rounded vowel


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


In the following transcriptions, a back rounded vowel is represented by the "retracted" diacritic [ʊ̠]:

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Chinese Cantonese /hung4 [hʊŋ˨˩] 'red' Can be realized as [] instead. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin /hóng [xʊŋ˧˥] See Mandarin phonology
Danish Standard[2] have [ˈhɛːʊ] 'garden' Assimilatory variant of [ʊ̯ə] (phonemically /ʋə/.)[2] May be realized the same as short [o].[2] See Danish phonology
Dutch Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect[3] ug [ʊx] 'you' See Orsmaal-Gussenhoven dialect phonology
English Australian[4] hook [hʊk] 'hook' Also described as close back [u].[5] See Australian English phonology
Cockney[6] [ʊʔk] Sometimes fronted to [ʊ̈].[6]
Conservative RP [hʊʔk] Often lowered and centralized to [ɵ], or unrounded to [ɘ]. See English phonology
Multicultural London[7] May be front [ʏ] instead.[7]
Hindustani गुलाब/گلاب [gʊˈläːb] 'rose' See Hindustani phonology
Faroese hvalur [kvɛalʊɹ] 'whale'
French Quebec foule [fʊl] 'crowd' Allophone of /u/ in closed syllables. See Quebec French phonology
German Chemnitz dialect[8] Schurf [ʃʊˤːf] 'blight' Pharyngealized; may be realized as [ʊːɒ̯] instead.[8] See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Southern Bernese [example needed] Corresponds to [ɔu̯] in the city of Bern. See Bernese German phonology
Standard[9][10] Stunde About this sound [ˈʃtʊndə]  'hour' See German phonology
Irish Munster[11] dubh [d̪ˠɰʊvˠ] 'black' Allophone of /ʊ/ between broad consonants.[11] See Irish phonology
Kaingang[12] [kʊˈtu] 'deaf' Atonic allophone of /u/ and /o/.[13]
Korean[14] 구리 /guri [kʊ̠ɾi] 'copper' Fully back;[14] typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨u⟩. See Korean phonology
Limburgish Weert dialect[15] [example needed] Used only by older speakers.[15]
Luxembourgish[16] Sprooch [ʃpʀʊ̠ːχ] 'language' Fully back;[16] typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨⟩. Also described as close-mid [].[17] See Luxembourgish phonology
Mongolian[18] ус [ʊs] 'water'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[19] ond [ʊn̪] 'bad' May be transcribed /u/. See Norwegian phonology
Piedmontese Torton-a [tʊrˈtʊŋa] 'Tortona'
Portuguese Brazilian[20] bonito [bʊˈn̠ʲit̪ʊ̥] 'handsome' Corresponds to unstressed [u ~ o̞] in Brazil and /u/ in other national variants.
Punjabi ਪੁਦੀਨਾ [pʊˈd̪iːnäː] 'mint'
Russian[21] сухой About this sound [s̪ʊˈxo̞j]  'dry' Unstressed allophone of /u/. See Russian phonology
Shiwiar[22] [example needed] Allophone of /u/.[22]
Slovak[23][24][25] ruka [ˈrʊkä] 'arm' Backness varies between back and near-back.[23] See Slovak phonology
Spanish Eastern Andalusian[26] tus [t̪ʊ̠ː] 'your' (pl.) Fully back. Corresponds to [u] in other dialects, but in these dialects they're distinct. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[27] ort About this sound [ʊ̠ᵝʈː]  'locality' Retracted and exolabial (compressed). See Swedish phonology
Turkish[28] buzlu [buz̪ˈl̠ʊ] 'icy' Allophone of /u/ described variously as "word-final"[28] and "occurring in final open syllable of a phrase".[29] See Turkish phonology
Yoruba[30] [example needed] Near-back or fully back; typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨ũ⟩. It is nasalized, and may be close [ũ̟ ~ ũ] instead.[30]

Near-close near-back unrounded vowel

Near-close near-back unrounded vowel

The near-close near-back unrounded vowel does not occur very often in world's languages, and the only languages in which it is phonemic are Korean and Portuguese (the European variety).



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English California[31] hook [hɯ̽k] 'hook' Often pronounced with spread lips.[31]
Irish Ulster[32] [example needed] Allophone of /ɪ/.[32]
Korean[14] 어른/eoreun [ɘːɾɯ̽n] 'seniors' Typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨ɯ⟩. See Korean phonology
Mirandese cebada [s̪ɯ̽ˈβ̞äð̞ə] 'barley' Typically transcribed in IPA as ⟨ɨ⟩.
Portuguese European[33] pegar [pɯ̽ˈɣäɾ] 'to hold' Unstressed vowel;[33] most often transcribed in IPA as ⟨ɨ⟩ or ⟨ə⟩. See Portuguese phonology
Tatar [example needed]
Turkish acı [äˈd͡ʒɯ̽] 'spicy' Allophone of /ɯ/ in final open syllable of a phrase. See Turkish phonology



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