- Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of
vowelsound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. The front vowels identified by the International Phonetic Alphabetare:
close front unrounded vowelIPA| [i]
close front rounded vowelIPA| [y]
close-mid front unrounded vowelIPA| [e]
close-mid front rounded vowelIPA| [ø]
open-mid front unrounded vowelIPA| [ɛ]
open-mid front rounded vowelIPA| [œ]
near-open front unrounded vowelIPA| [æ]
open front unrounded vowelIPA| [a]
open front rounded vowelIPA| [ɶ]
In some languages, the open front vowels do not pattern or group with the other front vowels in their phonologies.
Effect on preceding consonant
In the history of many
Indo-European languages, front vowels altered preceding velar consonants, bringing them forward to a palatal, postalveolar, or alveolar place of articulation. Similar changes, or sometimes ongoing allophonic variation, have occurred in many other languages, including Japanese. See " palatalization."
This historical palatalization is reflected in the orthographies of several European languages, including the "c" and "g" of Italian, Spanish, and French, the "k" in Norwegian and Swedish, and the "γ" 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 *IPA| [k] "yell, yarn, yearn, yeast" from *IPA| [g] .)
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