Under most analyses, Standard Chinese has five or six vowel phonemes:
- /ə/: sounding more like before and after front glides (/j/, /ɥ/), before and after /w/, and elsewhere
- /y/ (a front rounded vowel, as in French or German)
- Possibly /ɨ/ (only after alveolar and retroflex sibilants, where it is often pronounced as a syllabic fricative)
The pronunciation of each of these sounds varies somewhat depending on context. In a very narrow transcription, the following phones may be distinguished:
- For /a/:
- , in Pinyin an, uan, ai, uai,
- , in Pinyin a, ia, ua, (Depending on whether the sound after it is front or back, some may pronounce it more like or, respectively)
- , in Pinyin ang, iang, uang, ao, iao,
- For broad allophone of /ǝ/:
- , in Pinyin ei, wei/ui, (Some may pronounce it as a more central )
- , in Pinyin ie, ian, and an interjection ê
- , in Pinyin yue/üe, yuan/üan,
- For broad allophone of /ǝ/:
- , in Pinyin ou, you/iu, (Some may pronounce it more central and unrounded: )
- , in Pinyin uo and an interjection o (Some may pronounce it closer)
- For broad allophone of /ǝ/:
- , in Pinyin e, eng, weng, (Some pronounce this as )
- , in Pinyin en, wen/un,
- For /i/:
- , in Pinyin yi/i, yin/in, ying/ing,
- For some speakers, in Pinyin ing (in place of )
- For /y/:
- , in Pinyin yu/ü, yun/ün,
- For some speakers, in Pinyin yun/ün (in place of )
- For /u/:
- , in Pinyin ong, iong,
- , in Pinyin wu/u
- For /ɨ/:
- (Pinyin i), after the alveolar sibilants /t͡s t͡sʰ s/ (zi, ci, si)
- (Pinyin i), after the retroflex sibilants /ʈ͡ʂ ʈ͡ʂʰ ʂ ʐ / (zhi, chi, shi, ri)
Note that Pinyin often has more than one way to spell the same set of sounds. When two variants are given, the first is when the syllable final occurs as a syllable by itself, while the second is the form used following a consonant. Other such variants exist, but are not written:
- For any Pinyin syllable final list above with only one form and beginning with u or i, substitute w or y (respectively) when it appears as a syllable by itself.
- The Pinyin letter ü is written u after all but l and n, because it does not contrast with /u/ except after those two consonants.
- The Pinyin final uo is written o after b, p, m and f.
Interjections such as and, which contrast with the word, suggest that each must be treated as a separate phoneme. In reality, however, most analyses treat these as special cases operating outside the normal phonemic system (similar to the normal treatment of "hmm", "unh-unh", "shhh!" and other English exclamations that violate usual phonotactic and allophonic rules). Examples are – (e.g. the interjections 喔, 哦 and 噢) – (e.g. 饿 "hungry", 鹅 "goose"), (e.g. 夜 "night", 爷 "grandfather") – (e.g. the interjection 哟), (e.g. 乐 "glad") – (e.g. the interjection 咯).
It would also be possible to merge /ɨ/ and /i/, which are historically related, since they are also in complementary distribution, provided that the alveolo-palatal series is either left unmerged, or merged with the velars rather than the retroflex or alveolar series. (That is, and all exist, but there is neither * nor *, so there is no problem merging both ~ and ~ at the same time.) The result is a five-vowel system of /a/, /ə/, /i/, /u/, and /y/.
See syllabic fricative for a discussion of the Chinese phoneme /ɨ/ and its varying pronunciations and transcriptions.
The medials /j, w, ɥ/ can also be merged to the high vowels /i, u, y/ — there is no ambiguity in interpreting a sequence like as /iɑʊ̯/, and potentially problematic sequences such as */iu/ never occur. This results in a minimal system with 19 consonants and 5 vowels.
An alternative and potentially more abstract system that sometimes appears in the linguistic literature (e.g. in Mantaro Hashimoto and Edwin Pulleyblank) uses the opposite approach of analyzing the vowels /i/, /u/ and /y/ as the surface form of the glides /j, w, ɥ/ combined with a null meta-phoneme Ø. In this system, shown below, there are just two vowel nuclei, /a/ and /ə/; various allophones result from a preceding glide /j, w, ɥ/ (or null) and a coda /i~j, u~w, n, ŋ/ (or null; see erhua for the additional sequences afforded by the rhotic coda /ɻ /). (The minimal vowel /ɨ/ is ascribed to the surface manifestation of all three values being null, e.g. would be analyzed as an underlying syllabic /s/.)
|ə||Ø||ɤ ²||jɛ||wɔ ¹||ɥœ̜|
~ ʊŋ ³
¹ Both pinyin and zhuyin have an additional "o", used after "b p m f", which is distinguished from "uo", used after everything else. "o" is generally put into the first column instead of the third. However, in Beijing pronunciation, these are identical.
² Another way to represent this initial is:, which reflects Beijing pronunciation.
³ /wɤŋ/ is pronounced when it follows an initial.
The sequence can be considered to be phonemically either /jən/ or /jan/; likewise could be either /ɥən/ or /ɥan/. Since and become and with the addition of a suffix /ɻ /, the latter interpretation is generally preferred.
Read more about this topic: Standard Chinese Phonology
Other articles related to "vowels, vowel":
... Romanian has a broad process of alternating between a mid vowel and a "low" vowel /e̯a/ alternates with /e/, /o̯a/ with /o/, and /a/ with /ə/ ... Originally, this was the result of a phonological process wherein mid vowels (Balkan Latin, by this time, had merged the long and short mid vowels) lowered to and under stress a subsequent change ... as shown in the examples below, where stressed vowels and diphthongs are highlighted in bold Stressed Unstressed a - ə carte 'book' cărticică 'book' (dimin ...
... Vocal sounds are divided into two basic categories-vowels and consonants-with a wide variety of sub-classifications ... serious voice students spend a great deal of time studying how the voice forms vowels and consonants, and studying the problems that certain consonants or vowels may cause while singing ...
... stops, which have nasal allophones such as before nasal vowels ... There are seven vowels, /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, all of which may be long or nasal, and three tones ... Syllable structure is simple, being maximally CVV, where VV is either a long vowel or /i, u/ plus a different oral or nasal vowel Labial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal ...
... The Nganasan language includes 10 vowels and about 20 consonant phonemes ... Nganasan vowels Front Central Back Close i, y ɨ u Mid e ə o Open ⁱa ɐ ᵘa Several bisyllabic sequences of vowels are possible -i -y -ɨ -u -ə -ɐ i- ii iə iɐ y- yy yə yɐ ɨ- ɨɨ ɨə ɨɐ u- ui ...
... that consonants are written with letters while vowels are indicated with diacritics (pilla) on those consonants, unlike English where both consonants ... when no diacritic is used, an "inherent vowel", either /a/ or /ə/, is understood, depending on the position of the consonant within the word ... The various vowels are written කා kā, කැ kä, කෑ kǟ (after the consonant), කි ki, කී kī (above the consonant), කු ku, කූ kū (below the consonant), කෙ ke, කේ kē (before ...
Famous quotes containing the word vowels:
“These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;”
—Alexander Pope (16881744)
“Playing bop is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.”
—Duke Ellington (18991974)
“As no one can tell what was the Roman pronunciation, each nation makes the Latin conform, for the most part, to the rules of its own language; so that with us of the vowels only A has a peculiar sound.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)