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A back vowel is any in a class of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the highest point of the tongue is positioned relatively back in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark vowels because they are perceived as sounding darker than the front vowels.
Near-back vowels are essentially a type of back vowels; no language is known to contrast back and near-back vowels based on backness alone.