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The rounded high-mid front-central vowel /ʏ/
quickinfo

The rounded high-mid front-central B-class vowel/ʏ/ is found in words such as:

Example 1

a. nut /nʏt/ utility
b. rum /rʏm/ rum
c. krul /krʏl/ curl

It is invariably spelled with a single letter <u>.

Figure 1(cf. Gussenhoven 1992) depicts the (Dutch) vowel's position within the vowel chart.

Figure 1: Vowel chart

[click image to enlarge]

Articulation
/ʏ/ is a rounded, high-mid, front-central, B-class vowel. The tongue body is relatively neutral and lax, and lips are rounded (Collins and Mees 2003; Eijkman 1937). /ʏ/ is nasalised before nasal consonants, raised before velars (Collins and Mees 2003) and retracted before dark /l/ (Botma et al. 2012).

Duration
/ʏ/ is phonetically short (Adank et al. 2004). Absolute duration varies with the type of speech and speaking rate, but reported average durations have ranged from 88 ms (Adank et al. 2004) to 105 ms (Rietveld et al. 2004), both in elicited read speech.

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[+] Acoustic properties of /ʏ/

Formant values vary with the type of speech, gender of the speaker, and speech community (the Netherlands or Flanders). Below are some reported average F1/F2 values.


Table 1
F1 mixed female male
Netherlands 404 490 438
401 417 438
366
Flanders 415 457 353
422

Table 2
F2 mixed female male
Netherlands 1590 1688 1498
1694 1830 1596
1595
Flanders 1551 1785 1492
1585
[+] Examples

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /ʏ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
aan het nut van een correspondent(...) to the benefit of a correspondent pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
(...) en rum drinkende piraten(...) and rum-drinking pirates pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
het rode spul viel op zijn schone, witte blousethe red stuff fell onto his clean, white blouse pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]

Table 4: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /ʏ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
er is niets aan de ervaring dat van nut isthere is nothing in this experience that is useful pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
rum en cola met veel rumrum and coke with a lot of rum pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
er komt geel spul uitthere's yellow stuff coming uit pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]
[+] Phonological analysis of ʏ

A possible feature specification of /ʏ/ is-high, -low, -tense, +round, -back.

/ʏ/ as a B-class vowel
One possible reason for seeing /ʏ/ and /ø/ as alternants is that /ø/ is produced as something like a long /ʏː/ before /r/ and /l/ (Botma et al. 2012) as shown in 2:

Example 2

deur [dʏːr] door

It should be noted, however, that there are no relevant alternations: no vowel which sometimes shows up as /ø/ and at other times as /ʏ/; furthermore, it is not clear whether this process should be seen as phonological or as phonetic, and whether the vowel in such cases is phonetically indeed a 'long' /ʏː/ exactly.

'Allophony' with schwa
/ʏ/ is not a very frequent vowel in Dutch, and furthermore, it does not occur in unstressed position. From the latter it follows that it is in complementary distribution with schwa, which also has a rather similar acoustic signature. Since (Paardekooper 1949) there has been discussion about the relevance of the following minimal pair:

Example 3

a. katterig [katərəx] miserable
b. kattenrug [katərʏx] cat's back

The two words clearly sound different, with the only detectable segmental difference being the final vowel. At the same time, they also have a different morphological structure (-erig is a suffix in 3a, 3b is a compound of katcat and rugback with a binding morpheme schwa). It is thus possible that the difference in morphological structure causes a difference in stress, and this in turn has an influence on the allophonic realization of one phoneme. In theories in which it is important to keep the number of phonemes to a minimum, this counts as a sufficient argument to equate the two sound - which are distinguished in almost all literature.

Phonotactics
/ʏː/ is a B-class vowel and can be preceded by at most two tautosyllabic non-coronal consonants; it should be followed by a consonant, except in a few interjections ( lekker puhserves you right). As stated above, it is not found in unstressed position. No other restrictions on its distribution have been noted.

References:
  • Adank, Patti, Hout, Roeland van & Smits, Roel2004An acoustic description of the vowels of Northern and Southern Standard DutchJournal of the Acoustical Society of America1161729--1738
  • Adank, Patti, Hout, Roeland van & Smits, Roel2004An acoustic description of the vowels of Northern and Southern Standard DutchJournal of the Acoustical Society of America1161729--1738
  • Botma, E.D., Sebregts, K. & Smakman, D2012The phonetics and phonology of Dutch mid vowels before /l/Laboratory Phonology3273-298
  • Botma, E.D., Sebregts, K. & Smakman, D2012The phonetics and phonology of Dutch mid vowels before /l/Laboratory Phonology3273-298
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Eijkman, L.P.H1937Phonetiek van het NederlandsHaarlemDe Erven F. Bohn N.V.
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1992DutchJournal of the International Phonetic Association2245-47
  • Rietveld, Toni, Kerkhoff, Joop & Gussenhoven, Carlos2004Word prosodic structure and vowel duration in DutchJournal of Phonetics32349-371
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