Front vowel

Type of vowel
IPA 22: Vowels
Front Central Back
Close
Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open

Vowels beside dots are: unrounded  rounded

This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

A front vowel is a class of vowel sounds used in some spoken languages, its defining characteristic being that the highest point of the tongue is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would otherwise make it a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also called bright vowels because they are perceived as sounding brighter than the back vowels.[1]

Near-front vowels are essentially a type of front vowel; no language is known to contrast front and near-front vowels based on backness alone.

Rounded front vowels are typically centralized, that is, near-front in their articulation. This is one reason they are written to the right of unrounded front vowels in the IPA vowel chart.

Partial list

The front vowels that have dedicated symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

There also are front vowels without dedicated symbols in the IPA:

As above, other front vowels can be indicated with diacritics of relative articulation applied to letters for neighboring vowels, such as ⟨⟩, ⟨⟩ or ⟨ɪ̟⟩ for a near-close front unrounded vowel.

Articulatorily fronted vowels

Fronted vowels are one of three articulatory dimensions of vowel space. The prototypical fronted vowel is [i]. Below it in the chart are fronted vowels with jaw opening.

In articulation, fronted vowels, where the tongue moves forward from its resting position, contrast with raised vowels and retracted vowels. In this conception, fronted vowels are a broader category than those listed in the IPA chart, including [ɪ ʏ], [ɨ ʉ], and, marginally, mid-central vowels. Within the fronted vowels, vowel height (open or close) is determined by the position of the jaw, not by the tongue directly. Phonemic raised and retracted vowels may be phonetically fronted by certain consonants, such as palatals and in some languages pharyngeals. For example, /a/ may be fronted to [æ] next to /j/ or /ħ/.[2]

Effect on preceding consonant

In the history of many languages, for example French and Japanese, front vowels have altered preceding velar or alveolar consonants, bringing their place of articulation towards palatal or postalveolar. This change can be allophonic variation, or it can have become phonemic.

This historical palatalization is reflected in the orthographies of several European languages, including the ⟨c⟩ and ⟨g⟩ of almost all Romance languages, the ⟨k⟩ and ⟨g⟩ in Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic, and the ⟨κ⟩, ⟨γ⟩ and ⟨χ⟩ in Greek. English follows the French pattern, but without as much regularity. However, for native or early borrowed words affected by palatalization, English has generally altered the spelling after the pronunciation (Examples include cheap, church, cheese, churn from /*k/, and yell, yarn, yearn, yeast from /*ɡ/.)

Before back vowel: hard Before front vowel: soft
English ⟨C⟩ call /kɔːl/ cell /sɛl/
English ⟨G⟩ gall /ɡɔːl/ gel /ɛl/
French ⟨C⟩ Calais [kalɛ] (listen) cela [səla] (listen)
French ⟨G⟩ gare [ɡaʁ] (listen) gel [ʒɛl] (listen)
Greek ⟨Γ⟩ γάιδαρος [ˈɣai̯ðaros] (listen) γη [ʝi] (listen)
Greek ⟨Χ⟩ Χανιά [xaˈɲa] (listen) χαίρετε [ˈçerete] (listen)
Italian ⟨C⟩ caro [ˈkaːro] (listen) città [tʃitˈta] (listen)
Italian ⟨G⟩ gatto [ˈɡatto] (listen) gente [ˈdʒɛnte] (listen)
Italian ⟨SC⟩ scusa [ˈskuːza] (listen) pesce [ˈpeʃʃe] (listen)
Japanese ⟨S⟩ sūdoku [sɯꜜːdokɯ] (listen) shiitake [ɕiꜜːtake] (listen)[a]
Japanese ⟨T⟩ atatakai [atatakaꜜi] (listen) dotchi [dotꜜtɕi] (listen)[a]
Swedish ⟨K⟩ karta [ˈkɑ̂ːʈa] (listen) kär [ɕæːr] (listen)
Swedish ⟨G⟩ god [ɡuːd] (listen) göra [ˈjœ̂ːra] (listen)
Swedish ⟨SK⟩ skal [skɑːl] (listen) skälla [ˈɧɛ̂lːa] (listen)
  1. ^ a b Palatalization of /si/, /ti/ etc. is shown in spelling in Hepburn romanization.

See also

References

  1. ^ Tsur, Reuven (February 1992). The Poetic Mode of Speech Perception. Duke University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-8223-1170-4.
  2. ^ Scott Moisik, Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, & John H. Esling (2012) "The Epilaryngeal Articulator: A New Conceptual Tool for Understanding Lingual-Laryngeal Contrasts"
IPA topics
IPA
Special topics
Encodings
Pulmonic consonants
Place Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
Manner Bi­labial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Post­alveolar Retro­flex Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn­geal/epi­glottal Glottal
Nasal m ɱ n ɳ̊ ɳ ɲ̊ ɲ ŋ̊ ŋ ɴ
Plosive p b t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ ʡ ʔ
Sibilant affricate ts dz t̠ʃ d̠ʒ ʈʂ ɖʐ
Non-sibilant affricate p̪f b̪v t̪θ d̪ð tɹ̝̊ dɹ̝ t̠ɹ̠̊˔ d̠ɹ̠˔ ɟʝ kx ɡɣ ɢʁ ʡʜ ʡʢ ʔh
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ɕ ʑ
Non-sibilant fricative ɸ β f v θ̼ ð̼ θ ð θ̠ ð̠ ɹ̠̊˔ ɹ̠˔ ɻ˔ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ h ɦ
Approximant ʋ ɹ ɻ j ɰ ʔ̞
Tap/flap ⱱ̟ ɾ̼ ɾ̥ ɾ ɽ̊ ɽ ɡ̆ ɢ̆ ʡ̆
Trill ʙ̥ ʙ r ɽ̊r̥ ɽr ʀ̥ ʀ ʜ ʢ
Lateral affricate ʈɭ̊˔ ɖɭ˔ cʎ̝̊ ɟʎ̝ kʟ̝̊ ɡʟ̝
Lateral fricative ɬ ɮ ɭ̊˔ ɭ˔ ʎ̝̊ ʎ̝ ʟ̝̊ ʟ̝
Lateral approximant l ɭ ʎ ʟ ʟ̠
Lateral tap/flap ɺ̥ ɺ ɭ̥̆ ɭ̆ ʎ̆ ʟ̆

Symbols to the right in a cell are voiced, to the left are voiceless. Shaded areas denote articulations judged impossible.

Non-pulmonic consonants
BL LD D A PA RF P V U EG
Ejective Stop ʈʼ ʡʼ
Affricate t̪θʼ tsʼ t̠ʃʼ ʈʂʼ kxʼ qχʼ
Fricative ɸʼ θʼ ʃʼ ʂʼ ɕʼ χʼ
Lateral affricate tɬʼ cʎ̝̊ʼ kʟ̝̊ʼ
Lateral fricative ɬʼ
Click
(top: velar;
bottom: uvular)
Tenuis


k‼
q‼

Voiced ɡʘ
ɢʘ
ɡǀ
ɢǀ
ɡǃ
ɢǃ
ɡ‼
ɢ‼
ɡǂ
ɢǂ
Nasal ŋʘ
ɴʘ
ŋǀ
ɴǀ
ŋǃ
ɴǃ
ŋ‼
ɴ‼
ŋǂ
ɴǂ
ʞ
 
Tenuis lateral
Voiced lateral ɡǁ
ɢǁ
Nasal lateral ŋǁ
ɴǁ
Implosive Voiced ɓ ɗ ʄ ɠ ʛ
Voiceless ɓ̥ ɗ̥ ᶑ̊ ʄ̊ ɠ̊ ʛ̥
Co-articulated consonants
t͡p
d͡b
Labial–alveolar
Labial–velar
Labial–velar
ɧ
Sj-sound (variable)
Lateral approximant
Velarized alveolar
Other
Front Central Back
Close
Near-close
Close-mid
Mid
Open-mid
Near-open
Open

Vowels beside dots are: unrounded  rounded