If a language was borrowing words from another language that has /ɯ/, what would the first language possibly substitute it with?

Borrowing language phonology - Consonants: m n ɲ p b t d c ɟ k g ts dz ʧ ʤ f v s z ʃ ʒ h r~ɾ l j

Vowels: ɑ aː o oː u uː ɛ eː i iː ø øː y yː

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    Well, it probably wouldn’t be /tʃ/, but there’s no way to say, a priori, what vowel it would be. The most obvious candidates would probably be /u/, /i/, /o/, /y/, /ø/, but which one it would end up being is entirely down to the language and its speakers. Different speakers may even use different sounds for it. Jan 22, 2022 at 9:44
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    Voting to reopen as I don't think this question is opinion-based -- there must be data out there about the adaptation of loanwords containing [ɯ].
    – TKR
    Jan 22, 2022 at 20:24
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    This is opinion-based because it's not asking for empirical evidence. Try Constructed Languages.
    – Nardog
    Jan 22, 2022 at 21:14
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    The most common language with [ɯ] is Japanese and, as far as I know, in all the other languages borrowed Japanese words with [ɯ] give [u] of a sort: samurai, tsunami, sushi, etc. I'm for reopening the question.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 28, 2022 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


I'm afraid no-one has collected comprehensive data yet for sound shifts due to borrowing/naturalizing foreign sounds. As a substitute we have some diachronic data (link to the Searchable Index Diachronica) what sound are possible outcomes from /ɯ/, the outcomes include /u/ and /i/ (the most expected and obvious ones), as well as /ɰa/ (a diphthongisation). Again, data are sparse.

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