Close-mid back unrounded vowel

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Close-mid back unrounded vowel
IPA number 315
Entity (decimal) ɤ
Unicode (hex) U+0264
Kirshenbaum o-
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠕ (braille pattern dots-135)

The close-mid back unrounded vowel, or high-mid back unrounded vowel,[1] is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is a close-mid back-central unrounded vowel.[2] Its symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is ⟨ɤ⟩, called "ram's horns". It is distinct from the symbol for the voiced velar fricative, ⟨ɣ⟩, which has a descender. Despite that, some writings[3] use this symbol for the voiced velar fricative.

Before the 1989 IPA Convention, the symbol for the close-mid back unrounded vowel was ⟨Latin letter small capital Gamma.svg⟩, sometimes called "baby gamma", which has a flat top; this symbol was in turn derived from and replaced the inverted small capital A, ⟨⟩, that represented the sound before the 1928 revision to the IPA.[4] The symbol was ultimately revised to be ⟨Ram's horns.svg⟩, "ram's horns", with a rounded top, in order to better differentiate it from the Latin gammaɣ⟩.[5] Unicode provides only U+0264 ɤ LATIN SMALL LETTER RAMS HORN (HTML ɤ), but in some fonts this character may appear as a "baby gamma" instead.


IPA: Vowels
Front Central Back

Paired vowels are: unrounded  rounded


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Alekano gamó [ɣɑmɤʔ] 'cucumber'
Chinese Mandarin /hē About this sound [xɤ˥]  'to drink' Usually pronounced as a sequence [ɰɤ̞]. See Standard Chinese phonology
Southern Min /ô [ɤ˧] 'oyster'
English Cape Flats[6] foot [fɤt] 'foot' Possible realization of /ʊ/; may be [u] or [ʉ] instead.[6] See South African English phonology
Indian South African[7] Possible realization of /ʊ/; may be a weakly rounded [ʊ] instead.[7] See South African English phonology
New Zealand[8][9] treacle [ˈtɹ̝̊iːkɤ] '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. See New Zealand English phonology
Received Pronunciation[10] long ago [lɒŋ ɤ̟ˈɡəʊ̯] 'long ago' Near-back; possible allophone of /ə/ between velar consonants.[10] See English phonology
White South African[11] pill [pʰɤ̟ɫ] 'pill' Near-back; allophone of /ɪ/ before the velarised allophone of /l/.[11] Also described as close [ɯ̟].[12] See South African English phonology
Estonian[13] kõrv [kɤrv] 'ear' Can be close-mid central [ɘ] or close back [ɯ] instead, depending on the speaker.[13] See Estonian phonology
Gayo[14] kule [kuˈlɤː] 'tiger' One of the possible allophones of /ə/.[14]
Irish Ulster[15] Uladh [ɤ̟l̪ˠu] 'Ulster' Near-back.[16] See Irish phonology
Kaingang[17] [ˈᵐbɤ] 'tail' Varies between back [ɤ] and central [ɘ][18]
Korean Gyeongsang dialect 거기/geogi [ˈkɤ̘ɡɪ] 'there' See Korean phonology
Mah Meri[19] [example needed] Allophone of /ə/; can be mid central [ə] or open-mid back [ʌ] instead.[19]
Northern Tiwa Taos dialect [ˌmã̀ˑˈpɤ̄u̯mã̄] 'it was squeezed' May be central [ɘ] instead. See Taos phonology
Önge önge [ˈɤŋe] 'man'
Samogitian õlgs [ˈɤˑɫgs] 'long'
Scottish Gaelic doirbh [d̪̊ɤrʲɤv] 'difficult' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Sundanese ieu [iɤ] 'this'
Thai[20] ธอ/thoe [tʰɤ̟ː] 'you' Near-back[20]
Xumi Upper[21] [Htsɤ] 'crown of a head' Occasional realization of /o/.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ While the International Phonetic Association prefers the terms "close" and "open" for vowel height, many linguists use "high" and "low".
  2. ^ Geoff Lindsey (2013) The vowel space, Speech Talk
  3. ^ Such as Booij (1999) and Nowikow (2012).
  4. ^ International Phonetic Association (1912). The principles of the International Phonetic Association. Paris, Association Phonétique Internationale. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Nicholas, Nick (2003). "Greek-derived IPA symbols". Greek Unicode Issues. University of California, Irvine. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  6. ^ a b Finn (2004), p. 970.
  7. ^ a b Mesthrie (2004), p. 956.
  8. ^ a b "NZE Phonology" (PDF). Victoria University of Wellington. p. 3. 
  9. ^ a b Bauer & Warren (2004), p. 585.
  10. ^ a b Gimson (2014), p. 138.
  11. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 617.
  12. ^ Bowerman (2004), p. 936.
  13. ^ a b Asu & Teras (2009), p. 369.
  14. ^ a b Eades & Hajek (2006), p. 111.
  15. ^ Ní Chasaide (1999:114–115)
  16. ^ Ní Chasaide (1999:114)
  17. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676–677, 682.
  18. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676, 682.
  19. ^ a b Kruspe & Hajek (2009), p. 245.
  20. ^ a b Tingsabadh & Abramson (1993), p. 25.
  21. ^ a b Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), p. 389.