Close front unrounded vowel

The close front unrounded vowel, or high front unrounded vowel,[1] 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.[2] 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), some dialects have been reported to pronounce the phoneme as a pure sound.[3] A pure [i] sound is also heard in many other languages, such as French, in words like chic.

Close front unrounded vowel
IPA Number301
Entity (decimal)i
Unicode (hex)U+0069
Braille⠊ (braille pattern dots-24)
Audio sample

The close front unrounded vowel is the vocalic equivalent of the palatal approximant [j]. 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/.


  • 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 front, which means the tongue is positioned forward in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans[4] dief [dif] 'thief' See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Standard[5] دين‎/diin [d̪iːn] 'religion' See Arabic phonology
Chinese Mandarin[6][7] / qī  [tɕʰi˥] 'seven' See Standard Chinese phonology
Chuvash çип [ɕ̬ip] 'thread'
Czech[8][9] bílý  [ˈbiːliː] 'white' See Czech phonology
Dutch[10][11] biet  [bit] 'beet' See Dutch phonology
English[12] All dialects free  [fɹiː] 'free' Depending on dialect, can be pronounced as a diphthong. See English phonology
Australian[13] bit [bit] 'bit' Also described as near-close front [ɪ̟].[14] See Australian English phonology
French[15][16] fini [fini] 'finished' See French phonology
German[17][18] Ziel  [t͡siːl] 'goal' See Standard German phonology
Greek Modern Standard[19][20] κήπος / kípos [ˈc̠ipo̞s̠] 'garden' See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian[21] ív [iːv] 'arch' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[22] bile [ˈbiːle̞] 'rage' See Italian phonology
Japanese[23] /gin  [ɡʲiɴ] 'silver' See Japanese phonology
Korean[24] 아이 / ai [ɐi] 'child' See Korean phonology
Kurdish[25][26] Kurmanji (Northern) şîr [ʃiːɾ] 'milk' See Kurdish phonology
Sorani (Central) شیر/šîr
Palewani (Southern)
Lithuanian vyras [viːrɐs̪] 'man' See Lithuanian orthography
Malay Malaysian Malay ikut [i.kʊt] 'to follow' See Malay phonology
Polish[27] miś  [ˈmʲiɕ] 'teddy bear' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[28] fino [ˈfinu] 'thin' Also occurs as an unstressed allophone of other vowels. May be represented by ⟨y⟩. See Portuguese phonology
Romanian[29] insulă [ˈin̪s̪ulə] 'island' See Romanian phonology
Rungus[30] rikot [ˈri.kot] 'to come'
Russian[31] лист/list  [lʲis̪t̪] 'leaf' Only occurs word-initially or after palatalized consonants. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[32] vile [ʋîle̞] 'hayfork' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Spanish[33] tipo [ˈt̪ipo̞] 'type' May also be represented by ⟨y⟩. See Spanish phonology
Sotho[34] ho bitsa [huˌbit͡sʼɑ̈] 'to call' Contrasts close, near-close and close-mid front unrounded vowels.[34] See Sotho phonology
Swedish Central Standard[35][36] bli [bliː] 'to stay' Often realized as a sequence [ij] or [iʝ] (hear the word:  [blij]); it may also be fricated [iᶻː] or, in some regions, fricated and centralized ([ɨᶻː]).[36][37] See Swedish phonology
Thai[38] กริช/krit [krìt] 'dagger'
Turkish[39][40] ip [ip] 'rope' See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[41] місто/misto ['misto] 'city, town' See Ukrainian phonology
Welsh es i [eːʃ iː] 'I went' See Welsh phonology
Yoruba[42] síbí [síbí] 'spoon'


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Maddox, Maeve. "DailyWritingTips: The Six Spellings of "Long E"". Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  3. ^ Labov, William; Sharon, Ash; Boberg, Charles (2006). The Atlas of North American English. Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter. chpt. 17. ISBN 978-3-11-016746-7.
  4. ^ Donaldson (1993), p. 2.
  5. ^ Thelwall (1990), p. 38.
  6. ^ Lee & Zee (2003), p. 110.
  7. ^ Duanmu (2007), pp. 35–36.
  8. ^ Dankovičová (1999), p. 72.
  9. ^ Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012), p. 228.
  10. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  11. ^ Verhoeven (2005), p. 245.
  12. ^ Roach (2004), p. 240.
  13. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007), p. 344.
  14. ^ Cox & Fletcher (2017), p. 65.
  15. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  16. ^ Collins & Mees (2013), p. 225.
  17. ^ Hall (2003), pp. 78, 107.
  18. ^ Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), p. 34.
  19. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 28.
  20. ^ Trudgill (2009), p. 81.
  21. ^ Szende (1994), p. 92.
  22. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 119.
  23. ^ Okada (1999), p. 117.
  24. ^ Lee (1999), p. 121.
  25. ^ Thackston (2006a), p. 1.
  26. ^ Khan & Lescot (1970), pp. 8-16.
  27. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 105.
  28. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 92.
  29. ^ Sarlin (2014), p. 18.
  30. ^ Forschner, T. A. (December 1994). Outline of A Momogun Grammar (Rungus Dialect) (PDF). Kudat. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 September 2020.
  31. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 30.
  32. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 67.
  33. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 256.
  34. ^ a b Doke & Mofokeng (1974), p. ?.
  35. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 140.
  36. ^ a b Riad (2014), p. 21.
  37. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 141.
  38. ^ Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993), p. 24.
  39. ^ Zimmer & Organ (1999), p. 155.
  40. ^ Göksel & Kerslake (2005), p. 10.
  41. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  42. ^ Bamgboṣe (1969), p. 166.


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