Close back unrounded vowel

Close back unrounded vowel
IPA Number 316
Entity (decimal) ɯ
Unicode (hex) U+026F
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠥ (braille pattern dots-136)
Audio sample
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The close back unrounded vowel, or high back unrounded 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 ⟨ɯ⟩. Typographically a turned letter ⟨m⟩, given its relation to the sound represented by the letter ⟨u⟩ it can be considered a ⟨u⟩ with an extra "bowl".


  • 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 back, which means the tongue is positioned back in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Unrounded back vowels tend to be centralized, which means that often they are in fact near-back.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Acehnese[2] eu [ɯ] 'see' Also described as closer to [ɨ].[3][4]
Azerbaijani bahalı [bɑhɑˈɫɯ] 'expensive'
Bashkir ҡыҙ/qyž [qɯð] 'girl'
Chinese Hokkien Quanzhou dialect /tu [tɯ] 'pig' Allophone of [ɨ]. Written 'tir' in Pe̍h-ōe-jī.
Some Wu dialects /vu [vɯ] 'father'
Xiang /xu [xɯ] 'fire'
Chuvash ыхра [ɯɣra] 'garlic'
Crimean Tatar джаным [dʒanɯm] 'please'
English African-American[5] hook [hɯ̞k] 'hook' Near-close; possible realization of /ʊ/.[5]
Tidewater[6] Near-close; may be rounded [ʊ] instead.[6]
California[7] goose [ɡɯˑs] 'goose' Corresponds to [] in other dialects.
New Zealand[8][9] treacle [ˈtɹ̝̊iːkɯ] 'treacle' Possible realization of the unstressed vowel /ɯ/, which is variable in rounding and ranges from central to (more often) back and close to close-mid.[8][9] Corresponds to /əl/ in other accents. Develops from dark L; See New Zealand English phonology
Some Philadelphia speakers[10] plus [pɫ̥ɯs] 'plus' Used by some speakers; the exact height and backness is variable.[10] It corresponds to [ʌ] in other accents. See English phonology
South African[11] pill [pʰɯ̞ɫ] 'pill' Near-close; possible allophone of /ɪ/ before the velarised allophone of /l/.[11] See South African English phonology
Estonian[12] kõrv [kɯrv] 'ear' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɤ⟩; can be close-mid central [ɘ] or close-mid back [ɤ] instead, depending on the speaker.[12] See Estonian phonology
Irish Ulster caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'narrow' See Irish phonology
Japanese[13] 空気 / kūki About this sound[kɯːki] 'air' May be compressed [ɯᵝ].[14] See Japanese phonology
Korean[15] 음식 飮食 eumsik [ɯːmɕ͈ik̚] 'food' See Korean phonology
Kurdish Kurmanji (Northern) ti [tˤɯɾʃ] 'sour' See Kurdish phonology. The "i" after "t" always uses this sound if the "t" is "tˤ". However, it can also appear at other places.
Sorani (Central) ترش‎/tirš
Kyrgyz кыз/qyz [qɯz] 'girl' See Kyrgyz phonology
Portuguese European[16] pegar [pɯ̞ˈɣäɾ] 'to grab' Reduced vowel. Near-close.[16] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ɨ⟩. See Portuguese phonology
Scottish Gaelic caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ] 'thin' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Sob düm [dɯm] 'tree' See Sop language
Tamil அழகு/aḻagu [əɻəxɯ] 'beauty'
Thai Standard[17] ขึ้น/khuen [kʰɯn˥˩] 'to go up'
Turkish[18] sığ [sɯː] 'shallow' Described variously as close back [ɯ],[18] near-close near-back [ɯ̞][19] and close central [ɨ].[20] See Turkish phonology
Turkmen ýaşyl [jäːˈʃɯl] 'green'
Uyghur تىلىم/tulum [tɯlɯm] 'my language' In complementary distribution with /ɪ/. See Uyghur phonology
Vietnamese tư [tɯ] 'fourth' See Vietnamese phonology

See also