• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
The unrounded high-mid front-central vowel /ɪ/
quickinfo

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

Example 1

a. zit /zɪt/ sit
b. pin /pɪn/ pin
c. pil /pɪl/ pill

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

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

Figure 1: Vowel chart

[click image to enlarge]

Articulation
/ɪ/ is an unrounded, high-mid, front-central, B-class vowel. The tongue body is fronted to slightly behind /e/ (Collins and Mees 2003; Eijkman 1937). /ɪ/ is nasalised before nasal consonants, raised and centralised before velars, and lowered and centralised before dark /l/ (Collins and Mees 2003).

Duration
/ɪ/ is phonetically short; it has been reported as the shortest vowel in Dutch (Adank et al. 2004). Absolute duration varies with the type of speech and speaking rate, but reported average durations have ranged from 85 ms in spontaneous speech (Jacobi 2009) to 93 ms in elicited read speech (Adank et al. 2004).

readmore
[+] Acoustics: vowel quality

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 389 465 388
392 399 374
361
Flanders 415 455 364
427

Table 2
F2 mixed female male
Netherlands 2033 2262 2003
2064 2276 2196
1919
Flanders 1920 2115 1745
1884

Examples

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /ɪ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
dat zit erinthat sits in there pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
(...) schiet het met spin de lucht in(...) kick(s) it with spin into the air pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
(...) dat zo'n pil een uitkomst kan zijn(...) that such a pill can be a solution 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 /ɪ/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
ik zit met een crisis in het Midden OostenI sit with a crisis in the Middle East pre-obstruent
[click image to enlarge]
een enorme spinan enormous spider pre-sonorant
[click image to enlarge]
de uitvinding van de pilthe discovery of the pill pre-liquid
[click image to enlarge]

[+] Phonological analysis of /ɪ/

Features
A possible feature specification of /ɪ/ is -high, -low, -tense, -round, -back.

/ɪ/ is sometimes seen as a +highvowel, i.e. as the B-class vowel alternant of /i/. However, beyond the resemblance of the IPA symbol to that of the high vowel, all available evidence point to /ɪ/ being an alternant of [e] instead. The vowel alternates with /e/ in some singular-plural paradigms such as in 1a and 1b or in the diminutive form like in 1c respectively:

Example 2

a. schip [sxɪp] ship
b. schepen [sxepən] ships
c. scheepje [sxepjə] little ship (DIM)

There are no words in which /ɪ/ alternates with /i/ in such paradigms. This process is not productive in modern Dutch, and usually seen as a remnant of a process of Open Syllable Lengthening in older stages of Dutch. It is also assumed that the /ɪ/ is the original vowel in these cases (or the underlying one). In some phonological analyses, the difference between /ɪ/ and /e/ is assumed to be one of length rather than tenseness also for the following reason; in that case one would for instance assign the feature-longto /ɪ/. One other possible reason for seeing /ɪ/ and /e/ as alternants is that /e/ is produced as something like a long /ɪː/ before /r/ and /l/(Botma et al. 2012), as shown in 2:

Example 3

peer [pɪːr] pear

It should be noted, however, that there are no relevant alternations: there is no vowel which sometimes shows up as /e/ and at other times as /ɪ/; 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 exactly a ‘long’ /ɪː/.

Something which has only been noted in Van Oostendorp (2000) as far as we have been able to see, is that /ɪ/ seems to be in some kind of complementary distribution with schwa in unstressed syllables before the velar consonants /n//, /x/, /ɢ/ and /k/. In the first place, there is no contrast between schwa and /ɪ/ in such a position – no minimal pairs can be found. As a matter of fact, there is some regional variation as to whether words such as the following are pronounced with a schwa or with a mid front B-class vowel /ɪ/:

Example 4

a. gezellig [gəzɛləx] [gəzɛlɪx] cosy
b. natuurlijk [natyːrlək] [natyːrlɪk] naturally
c. haring [haːrəɴ] [haːrɪɴ] herring

Note that orthography seems to indicate a front mid vowel in all cases. However, from a phonological point of view, the vowel behaves more like a schwa, for instance in its preference not just to be unstressed, but to be immediately preceded by stress.

Note also that the place names that are exceptions to the three-syllable window, (see Extra below) i.e. stress in Dutch is always on one of the last three syllables of the word, all involve a syllable with -ing next to schwa syllables, such as in Scheveningen or Wageningen, etc.

[show extra information]
x

The three-syllable window states the rule in Dutch that stress is always on one of the last three syllables of the word and never outside of it.

Phonotactics
/ɪ/ is a B-class vowel and can be preceded by at most two tautosyllabic non-coronal consonants; there are no exceptions, not even among interjections. As stated above, it is not found to contrast in unstressed position before velar consonants. It occurs with a /j/ onset only in a few words such as JiddischYiddish and jichtgout. 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
  • 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
  • Jacobi, Irene2009On Variation and Change in Diphthongs and Long Vowels of Spoken DutchUniversity of AmsterdamThesis
  • Oostendorp, Marc van2000Phonological ProjectionNiemeyer
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • Adjectival inflection
    [80%] Dutch > Morphology > Inflection
  • Nominal suffixation: diminutives
    [80%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • Cardinal numerals
    [79%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Numerals
  • -er (nominal)
    [79%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • -ing
    [79%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • Cardinal numbers
    [82%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • In prenominal position
    [81%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Ellipsis
    [81%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Quantifiers
    [79%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • Emphasis
    [79%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
cite
print