Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory
Assimilation (linguistics)
Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other.


The term vowel harmony is used in two different senses.

In the first sense, it refers to any type of long distance assimilatory process of vowels, either progressive or regressive. When used in this sense, the term vowel harmony is synonymous with the term metaphony
In historical linguistics, metaphony is a general term for a class of sound change in which one vowel in a word is influenced by another in a process of assimilation....


In the second sense, vowel harmony refers only to progressive vowel harmony (beginning-to-end). For regressive harmony, the term umlaut is used. In this sense, metaphony is the general term while vowel harmony and umlaut are both sub-types of metaphony. The term umlaut is also used in a different sense to refer to a type of vowel gradation. This article will use "vowel harmony" for both progressive and regressive harmony.


Harmony processes are "long-distance" in the sense that the assimilation involves sounds that are separated by intervening segments (usually consonant segments). In other words, harmony refers to the assimilation of sounds that are not adjacent to each other. For example, a vowel at the beginning of a word can trigger assimilation in a vowel at the end of a word. The assimilation occurs across the entire word in many languages. This is represented schematically in the following diagram:
VaCVbCVbC VaCVaCVaC   (Va = type-a vowel, Vb = type-b vowel, C = consonant)

In the diagram above, the Va (type-a vowel) causes the following Vb (type-b vowel) to assimilate and become the same type of vowel (and thus they become, metaphorically, "in harmony").

The vowel that causes the vowel assimilation is frequently termed the trigger while the vowels that assimilate (or harmonize) are termed targets. When the vowel triggers lie within the root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 or stem
Word stem
In linguistics, a stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings.In one usage, a stem is a form to which affixes can be attached. Thus, in this usage, the English word friendships contains the stem friend, to which the derivational suffix -ship is attached to form a new...

 of a word and the affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es contain the targets, this is called stem-controlled vowel harmony (the opposite situation is called dominant). This is fairly common amongst languages with vowel harmony and may be seen in the Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

Root Dative Gloss
város város-nak 'city'
öröm öröm-nek 'joy'

The dative suffix has two different forms -nak/-nek. The -nak form appears after the root with back vowels (a and o are both back vowels). The -nek form appears after the root with front vowels (ö and e are front vowels).

Features of vowel harmony

Vowel harmony often involves dimensions such as
  • Vowel height   (i.e. high, mid, or low vowels)
  • Vowel backness   (i.e. front, central, or back vowels)
  • Vowel roundedness   (i.e. rounded or unrounded)
  • Tongue root position   (i.e. advanced or retracted tongue root, abbrev.: ±ATR)
  • Nasalization
    In phonetics, nasalization is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, so that some air escapes through the nose during the production of the sound by the mouth...

       (i.e. oral or nasal) (in this case, a nasal consonant
    Nasal consonant
    A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

     is usually the trigger)

In many languages, vowels can be said to belong to particular sets or classes, such as back vowels or rounded vowels. Some languages have more than one system of harmony. For instance, Altaic languages
Altaic languages
Altaic is a proposed language family that includes the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic language families and the Korean language isolate. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from northeast Asia through Central Asia to Anatolia and eastern Europe...

 have a rounding harmony superimposed over a backness harmony.

Even amongst languages with vowel harmony, not all vowels need participate in the vowel conversions; these vowels are termed neutral. Neutral vowels may be opaque and block harmonic processes or they may be transparent and not affect them. Intervening consonants are also often transparent.

Finally, languages that do have vowel harmony often allow for lexical disharmony, or words with mixed sets of vowels even when an opaque neutral vowel is not involved. point to two such situations: polysyllabic trigger morphemes may contain non-neutral vowels from opposite harmonic sets and certain target morphemes simply fail to harmonize. Many loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s exhibit disharmony. For example, Turkish vakit, ('time' [from Arabic waqt]); *vakıt would have been expected.


See Neutralization, archiphoneme, underspecification for an explanation of archiphoneme and neutralization with an example of a Tuvan
Tuvan language
Tuvan , also known as Tuvinian, Tyvan or Tuvin, is a Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Tuva in south-central Siberia in Russia. The language has borrowed a great number of roots from the Mongolian language and more recently from the Russian language...

 archiphoneme involved in vowel harmony.


Neutral Front Back
High i y u
Mid e ö o
Low ä a

In the Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, there are three classes of vowels front, back, and neutral, where each front vowel has a back vowel pairing. Grammatical endings such as case and derivational endings but not enclitics have only archiphonemic vowels U, O, A, which are realized as either back [u, o, a] or front [y, ø, æ] inside a single word. From vowel harmony it follows that the initial syllable of each single (non-compound) word controls the frontness or backness of the entire word. Non-initially, the neutral vowels are transparent to and unaffected by vowel harmony. In the initial syllable:
  1. a back vowel causes all non-initial syllables to be realized with back (or neutral) vowels, e.g. pos+ahta+(t)a → posahtaa
  2. a front vowel causes all non-initial syllables to be realized with front (or neutral) vowels, e.g. räj+ahta+(t)a → räjähtää.
  3. a neutral vowel acts like a front vowel, but does not control the frontness or backness of the word: if there are back vowels in non-initial syllables, the word acts like it began with back vowels, even if they come from derivational endings, e.g. sih+ahta+(ta) → sihahtaa cf. sih+ise+(t)a → sihistä

For example:
  • kaura begins with back vowel → kauralla
  • kuori begins with back vowel → kuorella
  • sieni begins without back vowels → sienellä (not *sienella)
  • käyrä begins without back vowels → käyrällä
  • tuote begins with back vowels → tuotteeseensa
  • kerä begins with a neutral vowel → kerällä
  • kera begins with a neutral vowel, but has a noninitial back vowel → keralla

Some dialects that have a sound change opening diphthong codas also permit archiphonemic vowels in the initial syllable. For example, standard 'ie' is reflected as 'ia' or 'iä', controlled by noninitial syllables, in the Tampere dialect, e.g. tiä ← tie but miakka ← miekka.

... as evidenced by tuotteeseensa (not *tuotteeseensä). Even if phonologically front vowels precede the suffix -nsa, grammatically it is preceded by a word controlled by a back vowel. As shown in the examples, neutral vowels make the system unsymmetrical, as they are front vowels phonologically, but leave the front/back control to any grammatical front or back vowels. There is little or no change in the actual vowel quality of the neutral vowels.

As a consequence, Finnish speakers often have problems with pronouncing foreign words which do not obey vowel harmony. For example, olympia is often pronounced olumpia. The position of some loans is unstandardized (e.g. chattailla/chättäillä ) or ill-standardized (e.g. polymeeri, sometimes pronounced polumeeri, and autoritäärinen, which violate vowel harmony). Where a foreign word violates vowel harmony by not using front vowels because it begins with a neutral vowel, then last syllable generally counts, although this rule is irregularly followed. Experiments indicate that e.g. miljonääri always becomes (front) miljonääriä, but marttyyri becomes equally frequently both marttyyria (back) and marttyyriä (front), even by the same speaker.

With respect to vowel harmony, compound words can be considered separate words. For example, syyskuu ("autumn month" i.e. September) has both u and y, but it consists of two words syys and kuu, and declines syys·kuu·ta (not *syyskuutä). The same goes for enclitics, e.g. taaksepäin "backwards" consists of the word taakse "to back" and -päin "-wards", which gives e.g. taaksepäinkään (not *taaksepäinkaan or *taaksepainkaan). If fusion takes place, the vowel is harmonized by some speakers, e.g. tälläinen pro tällainen ← tämän lainen.

Helsinki slang
Helsinki slang
Helsinki slang or stadin slangi is a local dialect and a sociolect of the Finnish language mainly used in the capital Helsinki...

 has slang words that have roots violating vowel harmony, e.g. Sörkka. This can be interpreted as Swedish influence.
Vowel types
open middle closed
Back ("low") a á o ó u ú
  e é i í
rounded   ö ő ü ű

Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

, like its distant relative Finnish, has the same system of front, back, and intermediate (neutral) vowels. The basic rule is that words with front ("high") vowels get front vowel suffixes (kézbe - in(to) the hand), back ("low") vowel words back suffixes (karba - in(to) the arm).

The only essential difference in classification between Hungarian and Finnish is that Hungarian does not observe the difference between Finnish 'ä' [æ] and 'e' [e] the Hungarian front vowel 'e' [æ] is the same as the Finnish front vowel 'ä'.
Behaviour of neutral vowels

Intermediate or neutral vowels are usually counted as front ones, since they are formed that way, the difference being that neutral vowels can occur along with back vowels in Hungarian word bases (e.g. répa carrot, kocsi car). The basic rule is that words with neutral and back vowels usually take back suffixes (e.g. répá|ban in a carrot, kocsi|ban in a car).

The suffix rules for words with both kinds of suffixes are the following:
  • The last syllable counts: sofőr|höz, nüansz|szal, generál|ás, október|ben
    • A regular exception is i/í and é (but not usually e): they are transparent for the rule, so only the other sounds will be taken into consideration, e.g. papír|hoz, kuplé|hoz, marék|hoz, konflis|hoz
  • Some words can take either front or back suffixes: farmer|ban or farmer|ben

Suffixes in multiple forms

While most grammatical suffixes in Hungarian come in either one form (e.g. -kor) or two forms (front and back, e.g. -ban/-ben), some suffixes have an additional form for front rounded vowels (such as ö, ő, ü and ű), e.g. hoz/-hez/-höz. An example on basic numerals:
(at, for time)
Back hat (6)
nyolc (8)
három (3)
Front unrounded
egy (1)
négy (4)
kilenc (9)
rounded öt (5)
kettő (2)


Standard Estonian
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 has lost its vowel harmony, the front vowels occurring only in the first (stressed) syllable). However wovel harmony exisit in its Võro
Võro language
The Võro language is a language belonging to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. Traditionally it has been considered a dialect of the South Estonian dialect group of the Estonian language, but nowadays it has its own literary language and is in search of official recognition as an...



Feminine (front) e ö ü
Masculine (back) a o u
Neutral i

Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 is similar. Front vowels in Mongolian are considered feminine, while back vowels are considered masculine.


Front ä e i ö ü
Back a ı í o u é

Tatar language
The Tatar language , or more specifically Kazan Tatar, is a Turkic language spoken by the Tatars of historical Kazan Khanate, including modern Tatarstan and Bashkiria...

 has no neutral vowels. The vowel é is found only in loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s. Other vowels also could be found in loanwords, but they are seen as Back vowels. Tatar language also has a rounding harmony, but it isn't represented in writing. O and ö could be written only in the first syllable, but vowels they mark could be pronounced in place where ı and e are written.


Kazakh language
Kazakh is a Turkic language which belongs to the Kipchak branch of the Turkic languages, closely related to Nogai and Karakalpak....

's system of vowel harmony is primarily a front/back system, but there is also a system of rounding harmony that is not represented by the orthography, which strongly resembles the system in Kyrgyz.


Kyrgyz language
Kyrgyz or Kirgiz, also Kirghiz, Kyrghiz, Qyrghiz is a Turkic language and, together with Russian, an official language of Kyrgyzstan...

's system of vowel harmony is primarily a front/back system, but there is also a system of rounding harmony.


Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
High i ü ı u
Low e ö a o

Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 has a 2-dimensional vowel harmony system, where vowels are characterised by two features: [±front] and [±rounded].
Front/back harmony

Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 has two classes of vowels front and back. Vowel harmony states that words may not contain both front and back vowels. Therefore, most grammatical suffixes come in front and back forms, e.g. Türkiye'de "in Turkey" but Almanya'da "in Germany".
Turkish vowel harmony
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

Nom.pl Gen.pl. Gloss
ip ipin ipler iplerin 'rope'
el elin eller ellerin 'hand'
kız kızın kızlar kızların 'girl'

Rounding harmony

In addition, there is a secondary rule that i and ı tend to become ü and u respectively after rounded vowels, so certain suffixes have additional forms. This gives constructions such as Türkiye'dir "it is Turkey", kapıdır "it is the door", but gündür "it is day", paltodur "it is the coat".

Compound words are considered separate words with respect to vowel harmony: vowels do not have to harmonize between members of the compound (thus forms like bu|gün "this|day" = "today" are permissible).

Vowel harmony does not apply for loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s and some invariant suffixes (such as -iyor).

There are also a few native Turkish words that do not follow the rule (such as anne "mother" or kardeş "brother/sister" which used to obey vowel harmony in their older forms, ana and karındaş, respectively). In such words suffixes harmonize with the final vowel; thus İstanbul'dur "it is İstanbul".

Disharmony tends to disappear through analogy, especially within loanwords. Suffixes drop disharmony to a lesser extent, e.g. Hüsnü (a man's name) < previously Hüsni, from Arabic husnî; Müslüman "Moslem, Muslim (adj. and n.)" < *müslimân, from Arabic Muslim).


Vowel harmony is present in all Yokutsan languages
Yokutsan languages
Yokutsan is an endangered language family spoken in the interior of Northern and Central California in and around the San Joaquin Valley by the Yokut people. The speakers of Yokutsan languages were severely affected by disease, missionaries, and the Gold Rush...

 and dialects. For instance, Yawelmani
Yawelmani language
Valley Yokuts is a dialect cluster of the Yokutsan language family of California.There are attempts to start language programs for Chukchansi, which is still spoken natively...

 has 4 vowels (which additionally may be either long
Vowel length
In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may etymologically be one, such as in Australian English. While not distinctive in most dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in...

 or short). These can be grouped as in the table below.
Unrounded Rounded
High i u
Low a ɔ

Vowels in suffixes must harmonize with either /u/ or its non-/u/ counterparts or with /ɔ/ or non-/ɔ/ counterparts. For example, the vowel in the aorist
Aorist is a philological term originally from Indo-European studies, referring to verb forms of various languages that are not necessarily related or similar in meaning...

 suffix appears as /u/ when it follows a /u/ in the root, but when it follows all other vowels it appears as /i/. Similarly, the vowel in the nondirective gerundial suffix appears as /ɔ/ when it follows a /ɔ/ in the root; otherwise it appears as /a/.
-hun/-hin   (aorist suffix)
[muʈhun] 'swear (aorist)'
[ɡij’hin] 'touch (aorist)'
gophin [ɡɔphin] 'take of infant (aorist)'
xathin [xathin] 'eat (aorist)'
-tow/-taw   (nondirective gerundial suffix)
goptow [ɡɔptɔw] 'take care of infant (nondir. ger.)'
giy̓taw [ɡij’taw] 'touch (nondir. ger.)'
[muʈtaw] 'swear (nondir. ger.)'
xattaw [xatːaw] 'eat (nondir. ger.)'

In addition to the harmony found in suffixes, there is a harmony restriction on word stems where in stems with more than one syllable all vowels are required to be of the same lip rounding and tongue height dimensions. For example, a stem must contain all high rounded vowels or all low rounded vowels, etc. This restriction is further complicated by (i) long high vowels being lowered and (ii) an epenthetic vowel [i] which does not harmonize with stem vowels.


Korean Vowel Harmony
Positive/"light"/Plus Vowels (Balgeun moeum) ㅏ (a) ㅑ (ya) ㅘ (wa) ㅗ (o) ㅛ (yo)
ㅐ (ae) ㅒ (yae) ㅙ (wae) ㅚ (oe)
Negative/"heavy"/Minus Vowels (Eoduun moeum) ㅓ (eo) ㅕ (yeo) ㅝ (weo) ㅜ (u) ㅠ (yu)
ㅔ (e) ㅖ (ye) ㅞ (we) ㅟ (wi)
Neutral/Centre Vowels ㅡ (eu)
ㅣ (i) ㅢ (ui)

There are three classes of vowels in Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

: positive, negative, and neutral. These categories loosely follow the front (positive) and mid (negative) vowels. Traditionally, Korean had strong vowel harmony; however, this rule is no longer observed strictly in modern Korean. In modern Korean, it is only applied in certain cases such as onomatopoeia, adjectives, adverbs, conjugation
Grammatical conjugation
In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

, and interjection
In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a word used to express an emotion or sentiment on the part of the speaker . Filled pauses such as uh, er, um are also considered interjections...

s. The vowel ㅡ(eu) is considered a partially neutral and a partially negative vowel. There are other traces of vowel harmony in modern Korean: many native Korean words tend to follow vowel harmony such as 사람 (saram), which means person, and 부엌 (Bueok), which means kitchen.

Proponents of Korean as an Altaic language use the existence of vowel harmony in Korean to support their argument.


Modern Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 and all historically recorded forms of Japanese lack clear evidence of vowel harmony, but some consider that such a process must have existed at one time. However, a consensus has not been reached. See the articles on Old Japanese and Jōdai Tokushu Kanazukai
Jodai Tokushu Kanazukai
is an archaic kanazukai used to write Japanese during the Nara period. Its primary feature is to distinguish between two groups of syllables as discussed below that later merged together.-Syllables:Following are the syllabic distinctions made in Old Japanese....

 for more information.


There is some evidence for vowel harmony according to vowel height  or ATR
Advanced tongue root
In phonetics, advanced tongue root and retracted tongue root, abbreviated ATR or RTR, are contrasting states of the root of the tongue during the pronunciation of vowels in some languages, especially in West Africa, but also in Kazakh and Mongolian...

 in the prefix i3/e- in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic Lagash
Lagash is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East...

 (the specifics of the pattern have led a handful of scholars to postulate not only an /o/ phoneme, but even an /ɛ/ and, most recently, an /ɔ/) Many cases of partial or complete assimilation
Assimilation (linguistics)
Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

 of the vowel of certain prefixes and suffixes to one in the adjacent syllable are reflected in writing in some of the later periods, and there is a noticeable though not absolute tendency for disyllabic stems to have the same vowel in both syllables. What appears to be vowel contraction in hiatus
Hiatus (linguistics)
In phonology, hiatus or diaeresis refers to two vowel sounds occurring in adjacent syllables, with no intervening consonant. When two adjacent vowel sounds occur in the same syllable, the result is instead described as a diphthong....

 (*/aa/, */ia/, */ua/ > a, */ae/ > a, */ue/ > u, etc.) is also very common.

Other languages

Vowel harmony occurs to some degree in many other languages, such as
  • Akan languages
    Akan languages
    The Central Tano or Akan languages are languages of the Kwa language family spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast by the Akan people*Akan language *Bia**North Bia***Anyin***Baoulé***Chakosi ***Sefwi **South Bia***Nzema...

     (tongue root position)
  • several Bantu languages
    Bantu languages
    The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

     such as:
    • Standard Lingala
      Lingala language
      Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

    • Kgalagadi
      Kgalagadi language
      SheKgalagari is one of the languages spoken in Botswana, along the South African border and in Namibia. SheKgalagari is spoken by about people. SheKgalagari is the autoglottonym or name of the language used by its native speakers as defined by the United Nations, Kgalagadi is the...

    • Malila (height)
    • Phuthi
      Phuthi language
      Phuthi is a Nguni Bantu language spoken in southern Lesotho and areas in South Africa adjacent to the same border. The closest substantial living relative of Phuthi is Swati , spoken in Swaziland and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa...

       (right-to-left and right-to-left)
    • Southern Sotho (right-to-left and right-to-left)
    • Northern Sotho (right-to-left and right-to-left)
    • Tswana
      Tswana language
      Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S , and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi...

       (right-to-left and right-to-left)
  • Bezhta
    Bezhta language
    The Bezhta language , also known as Kapucha , belongs to the Tsezic group of the North Caucasian language family...

  • Coeur d'Alene
    Coeur d'Alene language
    Coeur d'Alene is a Salishan language spoken by only five of the 800 individuals in the Coeur d'Alene Tribe on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation in northern Idaho, United States. It is considered an endangered language.-References:...

     (tongue root position and height)
  • Coosan languages
    Coosan languages
    The Coosan language family consists of two languages spoken along the southern Oregon coast. Both languages are now extinct.-Classification:* Hanis* Miluk...

  • Dusun
    Dusun is the collective name of a tribe or ethnic and linguistic group in the Malaysian state of Sabah of North Borneo. Due to similarities in culture and language with the Kadazan ethnic group, a new unified term called "Kadazan-Dusun" was created. Collectively, they form the largest ethnic group...

  • Igbo
    Igbo language
    Igbo , or Igbo proper, is a native language of the Igbo people, an ethnic group primarily located in southeastern Nigeria. There are approximately 20 million speakers that are mostly in Nigeria and are primarily of Igbo descent. Igbo is a national language of Nigeria. It is written in the Latin...

     (tongue root position)
  • Maiduan languages
    Maiduan languages
    Maiduan is a small endangered language family of northeastern California.-Family division:The Maiduan consists of 4 languages:# Maidu # Chico † # Konkow # Nisenan...

  • Manchu
    Manchu language
    Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

  • Nez Percé
    Nez Perce language
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Other types of harmony

Although vowel harmony is the most well-known harmony, not all types of harmony that occur in the world's languages involve only vowels. Other types of harmony involve consonants (and is known as consonant harmony
Consonant harmony
Consonant harmony is a type of "long-distance" phonological assimilation akin to the similar assimilatory process involving vowels, i.e. vowel harmony.-Examples:...

). Rarer types of harmony are those that involve tone
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

 or both vowels and consonants (e.g. postvelar harmony).

Vowel-consonant harmony

Some languages have harmony processes that involve an interaction between vowels and consonants. For example, Chilcotin
Chilcotin language
Chilcotin is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken in British Columbia by the Tsilhqot’in people....

 has a phonological process known as vowel flattening (i.e. post-velar harmony) where vowels must harmonize with uvular and pharyngealized
-Further reading:*Ian Maddieson, -See also:*Velarization*Creaky voice *Pharyngeal consonant*Epiglottal consonant*Pharynx...


Chilcotin has two classes of vowels:
  • "flat" vowels [ᵊi, e, ᵊɪ, o, ɔ, ə, a]
  • non-"flat" vowels [i, ɪ, u, ʊ, æ, ɛ]

Additionally, Chilcotin has a class of pharyngealized "flat" consonants [tsˤ, tsʰˤ, tsʼˤ, sˤ, zˤ]. Whenever a consonant of this class occurs in a word, all preceding vowels must be flat vowels.
[jətʰeɬtsˤʰosˤ] 'he's holding it (fabric)'
[ʔapələsˤ] 'apples'
[natʰákʼə̃sˤ] 'he'll stretch himself'

If flat consonants do not occur in a word, then all vowels will be of the non-flat class:
[nænɛntʰǽsʊç] 'I'll comb hair'
[tetʰǽskʼɛn] 'I'll burn it'
[tʰɛtɬʊç] 'he laughs'

Other languages of this region of North America (the Plateau culture area), such as St'át'imcets, have similar vowel-consonant harmonic processes.

Syllabic synharmony

Syllabic synharmony was a process in the Proto-Slavic language
Proto-Slavic language
Proto-Slavic is the proto-language from which Slavic languages later emerged. It was spoken before the seventh century AD. As with most other proto-languages, no attested writings have been found; the language has been reconstructed by applying the comparative method to all the attested Slavic...

 ancestral to all modern Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. It refers to the tendency of frontness (palatality) to be generalised across an entire syllable. It was therefore a form of consonant-vowel harmony in which the property 'palatal' or 'nonpalatal' applied to an entire syllable at once rather than to each sound individually.

The result was that back vowels were fronted after j or a palatal consonant, and consonants were palatalised before j or a front vowel. Diphthongs were harmonized as well, although they were soon monophthongized because of a tendency to end syllables with a vowel (syllables were or became open). This rule remained in place for a long time, and ensured that a syllable containing a front vowel always began with a palatal consonant, and a syllable containing j was always preceded by a palatal consonant and followed by a front vowel.

External links

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