Near-close near-front unrounded vowel

The near-close front unrounded vowel, or near-high front 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 ɪ, i.e. a small capital version of the Latin letter i. The International Phonetic Association advises serifs on the symbol's ends.[2] Some sans-serif fonts do meet this typographic specification.[3] Prior to 1989, there was an alternate symbol for this sound: ɩ, the use of which is no longer sanctioned by the IPA.[4] Despite that, some modern writings[5] still use it.

Near-close near-front unrounded vowel
IPA Number319
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɪ
Unicode (hex)U+026A
Braille⠌ (braille pattern dots-34)

Handbook of the International Phonetic Association defines [ɪ] as a mid-centralized (lowered and centralized) close front unrounded vowel (transcribed [i̽] or [ï̞]), and the current official IPA name of the vowel transcribed with the symbol ɪ is a near-close near-front unrounded vowel.[6] However, some languages have the close-mid near-front unrounded vowel, a vowel that is somewhat lower than the canonical value of [ɪ], though it still fits the definition of a mid-centralized [i]. It occurs in some dialects of English (such as Californian, General American and modern Received Pronunciation)[7][8][9] as well as some other languages (such as Icelandic),[10][11] and it can be transcribed with the symbol ɪ̞ (a lowered ɪ) in narrow transcription. Certain sources[12] may even use ɪ for the close-mid front unrounded vowel, but that is rare. For the close-mid (near-)front unrounded vowel that is not usually transcribed with the symbol ɪ (or i), see close-mid front unrounded vowel.

In some other languages (such as Danish, Luxembourgish and Sotho)[13][14][15][16] there is a fully front near-close unrounded vowel (a sound between cardinal [i] and [e]), which can be transcribed in IPA with ɪ̟, or . There may be phonological reasons not to transcribe the fully front variant with the symbol ɪ, which may incorrectly imply a relation to the close [i].

Sometimes, especially in broad transcription, this vowel is transcribed with a simpler symbol i, which technically represents the close front unrounded vowel.


  • Its vowel height is near-close, also known as near-high, which means the tongue is not quite so constricted as a close vowel (high vowel).
  • 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. The prototypical [ɪ] is somewhat further back (near-front) than the neighboring cardinal vowels.
  • It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not rounded.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abenaki nis [nɪs] 'two' The quality varies between near-close [ɪ] and close [i].[17][18][19] See Abenaki phonology
Afrikaans Standard[20] meter [ˈmɪ̞ˑtɐr] 'meter' Close-mid. Allophone of /ɪə/ in less stressed words and in stressed syllables of polysyllabic words. In the latter case, it is in free variation with the diphthongal realization [ɪə̯ ~ ɪ̯ə ~ ɪə].[20] See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Kuwaiti[21] بِنْت/bint [bɪnt] 'girl' Corresponds to /i/ in Classical Arabic. Contrasts with /i/ or [iː][21][22] See Arabic phonology
Lebanese[22] لبنان/libneen [lɪbneːn] 'Lebanon'
Burmese[23] မြစ်/mracʻ [mjɪʔ] 'root' Allophone of /i/ in syllables closed by a glottal stop and when nasalized.[23]
Chinese Shanghainese[24] / ih [ɪ̞ʔ˥] 'one' Close-mid; appears only in closed syllables. Phonetically, it is nearly identical to /ɛ/ ([]), which appears only in open syllables.[24]
Czech Bohemian[25] byli [ˈbɪlɪ] 'they were' The quality has been variously described as near-close near-front [ɪ][25] and close-mid front [ɪ̟˕].[26] It corresponds to close front [i] in Moravian Czech.[26] See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[13][15] hel [ˈhe̝ːˀl] 'whole' Fully front; contrasts close, near-close and close-mid front unrounded vowels.[13][15] It is typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩ - the way it is pronounced in the conservative variety.[27] The Danish vowel transcribed in IPA with ɪ is pronounced similarly to the short /e/.[28] See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard[29][30][31] blik  [blɪk] 'glance' The Standard Northern realization is near-close [ɪ],[29][30] but the Standard Belgian realization has also been described as close-mid [ɪ̞].[31] Some regional dialects have a vowel that is slightly closer to the cardinal [i].[32] See Dutch phonology
English Californian[7] bit  [bɪ̞t] 'bit' Close-mid.[7][8] See English phonology
General American[8]
Estuary[33] [bɪʔt] Can be fully front [ɪ̟], near-front [ɪ] or close-mid [ɪ̞], with other realizations also being possible.[33]
Received Pronunciation[9][34] Close-mid [ɪ̞] for younger speakers, near-close [ɪ] for older speakers.[9][34]
General Australian[35] [bɪ̟t] Fully front;[35] also described as close [i].[36] See Australian English phonology
Inland Northern American[37] [bɪt] The quality varies between near-close near-front [ɪ], near-close central [ɪ̈], close-mid near-front [ɪ̞] and close-mid central [ɘ].[37]
Philadelphian[38] The height varies between near-close [ɪ] and close-mid [ɪ̞].[38]
Welsh[39][40][41] Near-close [ɪ] in Abercrave and Port Talbot, close-mid [ɪ̞] in Cardiff.[39][40][41]
New Zealand[42][43] bed [be̝d] 'bed' The quality varies between near-close front [e̝], near-close near-front [ɪ], close-mid front [e] and close-mid near-front [].[42] It is typically transcribed in IPA with e. In the cultivated variety, it is mid [].[43] See New Zealand English phonology
Some Australian speakers[44] Close-mid [e] in General Australian, may be even lower for some other speakers.[44] See Australian English phonology
Some South African speakers[45] Used by some General and Broad speakers. In the Broad variety, it is usually lower [ɛ], whereas in the General variety, it can be close-mid [e] instead.[45] Typically transcribed in IPA with e. See South African English phonology
French Quebec[46] petite [pət͡sɪt] 'small' Allophone of /i/ in closed syllables.[46] See Quebec French phonology
German Standard[47] bitte  [ˈb̥ɪ̞tə] 'please' Close-mid; for some speakers, it may be as high as [i].[47] See Standard German phonology
Hindustani[48] इरादा/ارادہ/iraadaa [ɪˈɾäːd̪ä] 'intention' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian[49] visz [vɪs] 'to carry' Typically transcribed in IPA with i. See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic[10][11] vinur [ˈʋɪ̞ːnʏ̞ɾ] 'friend' Close-mid.[10][11] See Icelandic phonology
Kabiye kabɩ [kàbɪ̀jɛ̀] 'Kabiye' -ATR front vowel. See Kabiye language
Kazakh бір/bır [bɪ̞ɾ] 'one' Close-mid. See Kazakh phonology
Kurdish Sorani (Central) غولام/xilam
Limburgish[50][51] hin [ɦɪ̞n] 'chicken' Near-close [ɪ][51] or close-mid [ɪ̞],[50] depending on the dialect. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Luxembourgish[14] Been [be̝ːn] 'leg' Fully front.[14] Typically transcribed in IPA with . See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay kecil [kət͡ʃɪl] 'small' Allophone of /i/ in closed-final syllables. May be [e] or [] depending on the speaker. See Malay phonology
Norwegian[52] litt [lɪ̟tː] 'a little' The example word is from Urban East Norwegian, in which the vowel has been variously described as near-close front [ɪ̟][52] and close front [i].[53] See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese Brazilian[54] cine [ˈsinɪ] 'cine' Reduction and neutralization of unstressed /e/ (can be epenthetic), /ɛ/ and /i/. Can be voiceless. See Portuguese phonology
Russian[55][56] дерево/derevo  [ˈdʲerʲɪvə] 'tree' Backness varies between fully front and near-front. It occurs only in unstressed syllables.[55][56] See Russian phonology
Saterland Frisian[57] Dee [de̝ː] 'dough' Phonetic realization of /eː/ and /ɪ/. Near-close front [e̝ː] in the former case, close-mid near-front [ɪ̞] in the latter. Phonetically, the latter is nearly identical to /ɛː/ ([e̠ː]).[57]
Sinhala[58] පිරිමි/pirimi [ˈpi̞ɾi̞mi̞] 'male' Fully front;[58] typically transcribed in IPA with i.
Slovak[59][60] rýchly [ˈri̞ːxli̞] 'fast' Typically fully front.[59] See Slovak phonology
Sotho[16] ho leka [hʊ̠lɪ̟kʼɑ̈] 'to attempt' Fully front; contrasts close, near-close and close-mid front unrounded vowels.[16] See Sotho phonology
Spanish Eastern Andalusian[61] mis [mɪ̟ː] 'my' (pl.) Fully front. It corresponds to [i] in other dialects, but in these dialects they're distinct. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[62][63] sill  [s̪ɪ̟l̪ː] 'herring' The quality has been variously described as close-mid front [ɪ̟˕],[62] near-close front [ɪ̟][63] and close front [i].[64] See Swedish phonology
Temne[65] pim [pí̞m] 'pick' Fully front;[65] typically transcribed in IPA with i.
Turkish[66] müşteri [my̠ʃt̪ɛ̞ˈɾɪ] 'customer' Allophone of /i/ described variously as "word-final"[66] and "occurring in final open syllable of a phrase".[67] See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[68][69] ирій/yrij [ɪrij] 'Iriy' See Ukrainian phonology
Welsh mynydd [mənɪð] 'mountain' See Welsh phonology
Yoruba[70] kini [kĩi] 'what' Fully front; typically transcribed in IPA with ĩ. It is nasalized, and may be close [ĩ] instead.[70]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ "IPA Fonts: General Advice". International Phonetic Association. 2015. With any font you consider using, it is worth checking that the symbol for the centralized close front vowel (ɪ, U+026A) appears correctly with serifs top and bottom; that the symbol for the dental click (ǀ, U+01C0) is distinct from the lower-case L (l)
  3. ^ Sans-serif fonts with serifed ɪ (despite having serifless capital I) include Arial, FreeSans and Lucida Sans.
    On the other hand, Segoe and Tahoma place serifs on ɪ as well as capital I.
    Finally, both are serifless in Calibri.
  4. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 167.
  5. ^ Such as Árnason (2011)
  6. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), pp. 13, 168, 180.
  7. ^ a b c Ladefoged (1999), p. 42.
  8. ^ a b c Wells (1982), p. 486.
  9. ^ a b c Collins & Mees (2003), p. 90.
  10. ^ a b c Árnason (2011), p. 60.
  11. ^ a b c Einarsson (1945:10), cited in Gussmann (2011:73)
  12. ^ Such as Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012).
  13. ^ a b c Grønnum (1998), p. 100.
  14. ^ a b c Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 70.
  15. ^ a b c Basbøll (2005), p. 45.
  16. ^ a b c Doke & Mofokeng (1974), p. ?.
  17. ^ "Abenaki, Western". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2022-05-26.
  18. ^ "Numbers in Abenaki". Retrieved 2022-05-26.
  19. ^ Warne, Janet Leila (1975). A Historical Phonology of Abenaki. Thesis (M.A.)--McGill University.
  20. ^ a b Lass (1987), p. 119.
  21. ^ a b Ayyad (2011), p. ?.
  22. ^ a b Khattab (2007), p. ?.
  23. ^ a b Watkins (2001), p. 293.
  24. ^ a b Chen & Gussenhoven (2015), p. 328.
  25. ^ a b Dankovičová (1999), p. 72.
  26. ^ a b Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012), pp. 228–229.
  27. ^ Ladefoged & Johnson (2010), p. 227.
  28. ^ Basbøll (2005), p. 58.
  29. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 128.
  30. ^ a b Gussenhoven (1992), p. 47.
  31. ^ a b Verhoeven (2005), p. 245.
  32. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 131.
  33. ^ a b Altendorf & Watt (2004), p. 188.
  34. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 291.
  35. ^ a b Cox & Fletcher (2017), p. 65.
  36. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007), p. 344.
  37. ^ a b Gordon (2004), pp. 294, 296.
  38. ^ a b Gordon (2004), p. 290.
  39. ^ a b Tench (1990), p. 135.
  40. ^ a b Connolly (1990), p. 125.
  41. ^ a b Collins & Mees (1990), p. 93.
  42. ^ a b Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  43. ^ a b Gordon & Maclagan (2004), p. 609.
  44. ^ a b Cox & Fletcher (2017), pp. 65, 67.
  45. ^ a b Bowerman (2004), pp. 936–937.
  46. ^ a b Walker (1984), pp. 51–60.
  47. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015), pp. 34, 64.
  48. ^ Ohala (1999), p. 102.
  49. ^ Szende (1994), p. 92.
  50. ^ a b Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), pp. 158–159.
  51. ^ a b Peters (2006), p. 119.
  52. ^ a b Vanvik (1979), pp. 13–14.
  53. ^ Kvifte & Gude-Husken (2005), p. 2.
  54. ^ Barbosa & Albano (2004), p. 229.
  55. ^ a b Jones & Ward (1969), p. 37.
  56. ^ a b Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015), p. 225.
  57. ^ a b Peters (2017), p. ?.
  58. ^ a b Perera & Jones (1919), pp. 5, 9.
  59. ^ a b Pavlík (2004), pp. 93, 95.
  60. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010), p. 375.
  61. ^ a b Zamora Vicente (1967), p. ?.
  62. ^ a b Engstrand (1999), p. 140.
  63. ^ a b Rosenqvist (2007), p. 9.
  64. ^ Dahlstedt (1967), p. 16.
  65. ^ a b Kanu & Tucker (2010), p. 249.
  66. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005), p. 10.
  67. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999), p. 155.
  68. ^ Сучасна українська мова: Підручник / О.Д. Пономарів, В.В.Різун, Л.Ю.Шевченко та ін.; За ред. О.Д.пономарева. — 2-ге вид., перероб. —К.: Либідь, 2001. — с. 14
  69. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  70. ^ a b Bamgboṣe (1966), p. 166.


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