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Near-close near-back rounded vowel

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Title: Near-close near-back rounded vowel  
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Subject: Table of vowels, Index of phonetics articles, Phonetic symbols in Unicode
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Near-close near-back rounded vowel

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 derives from a small capital U. 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 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.


  • Its vowel roundedness is sometimes rather ambiguous, but it is generally a rounded vowel, which means that the lips are rounded to a greater or lesser degree.


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

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic كتب [ˈkʊtʊb] 'books' See Arabic phonology
Cabécar Köpö´ [kʊpʊː] 'sleep'
Chinese Cantonese hung4 [hʊ̜ŋ˨˩] 'red' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin hóng [xʊ̜ŋ˧˥] May be only slightly rounded. See Mandarin phonology
hau 'flower'
Dutch Some speakers
door [dʊ̠ːr] 'through' Retracted. Allophone of /oː/ before /r/ for some speakers, may be [oː~oə̯] instead. See Dutch phonology
Dutch Low Saxon
Some speakers doar
Tweants bloom [blʊ̠ːm] 'flower' Retracted. Pronounced [oː~oʊ̯] in other dialects.
English Most dialects hook [hʊk] 'hook' May be only slightly rounded. See English phonology
Australian[1] pool [pʰʊːɫ] 'pool' Allophone of /ʉː/ before /l/, used in some regions. See Australian English phonology
Southern Irish plus [plʊs] 'plus' Present in dialects without the foot-strut split.
Northern English
Faroese hvalur [kvɛalʊɹ] 'whale'
French Quebec foule [fʊl] 'crowd' Allophone of /u/ in closed syllables. See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[2] Schutz [ʃʊt͡s] 'protection' See German phonology
Korean[3] 어른 eoreun [ɘːɾɯ̽n] 'seniors' Typically transcribed as ⟨ɯ⟩. See Korean phonology
Luxembourgish[4] Sprooch [ʃpʀʊ̠ːχ] 'language' Fully back. May be transcribed /oː/.
Mongolian[5] ус [ʊs] 'water'
Norwegian Standard Eastern[6] ond [ʊn̪] 'bad' May be transcribed /u/. See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese European[7] pegar [pɯ̽ˈɣaɾ] 'to hold' Unstressed vowel. Most often transcribed as /ɨ/. See Portuguese phonology
Brazilian[8] bonito [bʊˈn̠ʲitʊ] 'handsome', 'beautiful' (m.) Unstressed vowel ⟨o⟩ in some dialects.[8] Corresponds to [u ~ o̞] in Brazil and /u/ in other national variants. See Portuguese phonology
Russian[9] сухой ) 'dry' Unstressed allophone of /u/. See Russian phonology
Spanish[10] Eastern Andalusian tus [t̪ʊ̠ː] 'your' (pl.) Fully back. Corresponds to ] in other dialects, but in these dialects they're distinct. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[11] ort ) 'locality' Retracted and exolabial (compressed). See Swedish phonology
Vietnamese thu [tʰʊw] 'autumn' See Vietnamese phonology



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