In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as an English ah! or oh!, pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh!, where there is a constriction or closure at some point along the vocal tract. A vowel is also understood to be syllabic: an equivalent open but non-syllabic sound is called a semivowel.

In all oral languages, vowels form the nucleus or peak of syllables, whereas consonants form the onset and (in languages that have them) coda. However, some languages also allow other sounds to form the nucleus of a syllable, such as the syllabic l in the English word table (the stroke under the l indicates that it is syllabic; the dot separates syllables), or the r in Serbo-Croatian vrt "garden".

There is a conflict between the phonetic definition of "vowel" (a sound produced with no constriction in the vocal tract) and the phonological definition (a sound that forms the peak of a syllable). The approximants and illustrate this conflict: both are produced without much of a constriction in the vocal tract (so phonetically they seem to be vowel-like), but they occur on the edge of syllables, such as at the beginning of the English words "yet" and "wet" (which suggests that phonologically they are consonants). The American linguist Kenneth Pike (1943) suggested the terms "vocoid" for a phonetic vowel and "vowel" for a phonological vowel, so using this terminology, and are classified as vocoids but not vowels. However, Maddieson and Emmory (1985) demonstrated from a range of languages that semivowels are produced with a narrower constriction of the vocal tract than vowels, and so may be considered consonants on that basis.

The word vowel comes from the Latin word vocalis, meaning "speaking", because in most languages words and thus speech are not possible without vowels. In English, the word vowel is commonly used to mean both vowel sounds and the written symbols that represent them.

Read more about Vowel:  Articulation, Acoustics, Prosody and Intonation, Monophthongs, Diphthongs, Triphthongs, Written Vowels, Audio Samples

Other articles related to "vowel, vowels":

Elision (French)
... refers to the suppression of a final unstressed vowel (usually ) immediately before another word beginning with a vowel ... The term also refers to the orthographic convention by which the deletion of a vowel is reflected in writing, and indicated with an apostrophe ...
Mid-central Vowel
... The mid-central vowel (also known as schwa) is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages ... be used for the rounded and the unrounded mid-central vowel ...
Mid-central Vowel - Mid-central Rounded Vowel - Features
... Its vowel height is mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a close vowel and an open vowel ... Its vowel backness is central, which means the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel ...
Vowel - Audio Samples
... IPA vowels chart with audio Front Near-​front Central Near-​back Back Close i Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player ... Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open Paired vowels are unrounded—rounded This table contains phonetic symbols ...
Mid-central Vowel - Mid-central Unrounded Vowel - Occurrence
... English Most dialects Tina 'Tina' Reduced vowel ... European pagar 'to pay' Corresponds mostly to a near-open vowel in Brazilian Portuguese ... Brazilian speakers, may be further lowered to an open vowel in certain positions ...

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