Lingua-U Letter No. 2: The Vowel i


vowel2-iThe second vowel in Lingua-U is i, the close front unrounded vowel. In the Subtle Energy Character Set (SECS), it is Yin (╎). Its sound is /i/, a common sound in English which is most commonly spelled “ee” as in “cheese” or “ea” as in “heal,” “e” as in “semen,” “ei” as in “either,” or “i” as in “Hawaii.” In the chart of vowels by the International Phonetic Association (IPA), /i/ appears at the extreme top left, in the close row and frontal column. It appears on the right side of a pair of vowels, which indicates its unrounded quality (a quality we won’t be looking at today).

Openness (Y-axis)

As an close vowel, the tongue is placed in an extreme position: as close to the top of the mouth as possible without forming a consonant. Many linguists prefer the term “high” vowels for “open” vowels, indicating the tongue’s upward position.

Cosmologically, if /a/ is like things that are low, then /i/ is like things that are high. If /a/ is like the water beneath the Earth’s surface, then /i/ is something which reaches towards the heavens and stars above.

Frontness (X-axis)

Like /a/, the /i/ with its frontal property means that the sound of the tongue is as far forward as possible. As we noted previously with /a/, frontal vowels have been observed to have a “bright” quality of sound as opposed to the “dark” back vowels.

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