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Heading=Cyrillic letter Yat

Yat or Jat (Unicode|Ѣ, Unicode|ѣ) is the name of the thirty-second letter of the old Cyrillic alphabet, or of the sound it represents. Its name in Old Church Slavonic is "ět’" (Slavonic|ѣть) or "iat’" (Slavonic|ꙗть), in Bulgarian "yat" (ят) or "e dvoyno" (е двойно, double e), in Russian and Ukrainian "yat’" (ять), in Serbian "yat" (jat, јат), Croatian "jat". In the common scientific Latin transliteration for old Slavic languages, the letter is represented by "e" with caron: Unicode|"ě" (taken from the Czech alphabet).

The "yat" represented a Common Slavic long vowel. It is generally believed to have represented the sound IPA| [æː] , which was a reflex of earlier IPA| [eː] , [oj] , or IPA| [aj] . That the sound represented by yat developed late in the history of Common Slavonic is indicated by its role in the second palatalization of the Slavonic velars. It is significant that from the earliest texts, there is considerable confusion between the yat and the Cyrillic iotified a (Slavonic|ꙗ). One explanation is that the dialect of Thessaloniki (on which the Old Church Slavonic literary language was based) and other South Slavonic dialects shifted from IPA|/æː/ to /ja/ independent from the Northern and Western branches. The confusion was also possibly aggravated by the fact that Cyrillic Little Yus (Slavonic|ѧ) looks very similar to the older Glagolitic alphabet's yat (Slavonic|ⱑ, supported only in Unicode 4.1; here's an
iotated yat" form (Slavonic|ꙓ) also exists.

In various modern Slavic languages the yat has reflexed into various vowels. For example, the old Slavic root "běl" (white) became "bel" IPA|/bʲel/ in Standard Russian (dialectal IPA|/bʲal/, IPA|/bʲijel/ or even IPA|/bʲil/ in some regions), "bil" IPA|/bʲil/ in Ukrainian, "bjal" in Bulgarian ("bel" in Western dilects), "biel / biały" in Polish, and "bílý" in Czech. Older, unrelated reflexes of yat exist; for example, old word Slavonic|телѣгы ("Unicode|telěgi", carts) became modern Russian телеги ("telegi") but in Serbian it is таљиге ("taljige").

As a result of these reflexes, yat no longer represented an independent phoneme, but rather one identical to that represented by another Cyrillic letter. As a result, children had to memorise by rote where to write yat and where not. Therefore, the letter was dropped in a series of orthographic reforms: in Serbian with the reform of Vuk Karadžić, which was later adopted for Macedonian, in Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian roughly with the October revolution, and in Bulgarian and Rusyn languages as late as 1945. The letter is no longer used in the standard modern orthography of any of the Slavic languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet, although it survives in liturgical and church texts written in the Russian recension of Church Slavonic and has, since 1991, found some favour in advertising.

Iotified Yat

There is also another version of Yat, the Iotified Yat (majuscule: Slavonic|Ꙓ, minuscule: Slavonic|ꙓ) which is a Cyrillic Alphabet combined with a Decimal I and a Yat. It was rarely adopted in the earliest monuments such as the The Anthology 1073.

There is no numerical value for this letter nor it was in the Glagolitic Alphabet. There is no known historical name for this letter, but in Russian it would be йоти́рованный ять ("Ĭotírovannyĭ Yat"). It was said to be pronounced [jæ:] or [je:] , similar to the Cyrillic letter Yae. It was encoded in Unicode 5.1 at positions U+A652, and U+A653.

Yat in Bulgarian

:"See also: Bulgarian language#Dialects"

In Bulgarian, the different reflexes of the yat form the so-called yat border ("yatova granitsa"), running approximately from Nikopol on the Danube to Solun (Thessaloniki) on the Aegean Sea. The yat border is the most important Bulgarian isogloss, marking pronunciation of the old "yat" as either /a/ and soft consonant before it (represented by я in standard Bulgarian) or /e/ to the east ("bjal", but plural "beli", бял – бели) and only as "e" ("bel – beli", бел – бели) to the west, continuing in Macedonian and Serbian dialects.

Literary Bulgarian is based on the pronunciation predominant in the eastern dialects. The "yat" is realized as /ja/ in stressed syllables when not followed by a front vowel, and as /e/ elsewhere.

* "mlyako" (milk) [n.] → "mlekar" (milkman); "mlechen" (milky), etc.
* "syadam" (sit) [vb.] → "sedalka" (seat); "sedalishte" (seat, eg. of government), etc.
* "svyat" (holy) [adj.] → "svetetz" (saint); "svetilishte" (sanctuary), etc.

From the liberation of Bulgaria until 1945, the standard Bulgarian orthography did not reflect this alternation and used the Cyrillic letter "yat" for both "ya" and "e" in alternating roots. This was regarded as a way to maintain unity between Eastern and Western Bulgarians, as much of what was then seen as Western Bulgarian dialects was under foreign control. In 1945, the letter was eliminated from the Bulgarian alphabet and the spelling was changed to conform to the pronunciation.

Yat in Croatian

Old Croatian yat phoneme is assumed to have phonetic value of closed /e/ (/ẹ/), which places it articulatorily between vowels /i/ and /e/. In Štokavian and Čakavian vowel system that phoneme didn't have it's pair among back vowels, and thus the tendency towards articulatory symmetry led to its merging with other phoneme, the closest match by place of articulation.

Most Kajkavian speeches on the other hand had a match for it in closed /o/ (/ọ/; reflex of */ǫ/ and unicode|*/l̥/), so it was retained in the system and merged with a reflex of vocalized reduced vowel (*/ь/). Thus the Kajkavian vowel system has a symmetry between front and back closed vocalic phonemes: */ẹ/ (< */ě/, */ь/) and */ọ/ (< */ǫ/, unicode|*/l̥/).

Čakavian speeches utilized both possibilities of establishing symmetry of vowels by developing Ikavian and Ekavian reflex. According to yat reflex Čakavian speeches are divided to Ikavian (mostly South Čakavian), Ekavian (North Čakavian) and mixed Ikavian-Ekavian (Middle Čakavian), in which mixed Ikavian-Ekavian reflex is conditioned by following phonemes according to the Jakubinskij's law (e.g. "sled" : "sliditi" < PSl. *slědъ : *slěditi; "del" : "diliti" < *dělъ : *děliti). Mixed Ikavian-Ekavian Čakavian speeches have been heavily influenced by analogy (influence of nominative form on oblique cases, infinitive on other verbal forms, word stem onto derivations etc.). The only exception among Čakavian speeches is Lastovo island and the village of Janjina, with Jekavian reflex of yat.

The most complex development of yat has occurred in Štokavian, namely Ijekavian Štokavian speeches which are used as a dialectal basis for modern standard Croatian literary language, and that makes the reflexes of yat one of the central issues of Croatian orthoepy and orthography. In most Croatian Štokavian speeches yat has yielded diphtongal sequence of unicode|/ie̯/ in long and short syllables. The position of this diphthong is equally unstable as that of closed */ẹ/, which has lead to its dephonologization. Short diphthong has thus turned to diphonemic sequence /je/, and long to disyllabic (triphonemic) /ije/, but that process is not yet completely finished in most Štokavian speeches, so the pronunciation of long yat in Neo-Štokavian speeches can be both monosyllabic (diphthongal or triphongal) and disyllabic (triphonemic). However, that process has been completed in speeches which serve as a dialectal basis for the codification of Croatian language, namely the Western Štokavian speeches with diphtongal value of yat, which is the prescribed orthoepical norm by modern Croatian grammars. In writing, dipthong unicode|/ie̯/ is represented as trigraph "ije" - this particular inconsistency being a remnant of the the late 19th century codification efforts in which common literary language for Croats and Serbs was planned to be architected, culminating in Novi Sad agreement and "common" orthography and dictionary. Digraphic spelling of a diphthong as "ie" was used by some 19th century Croat writers who promoted so-called "etymological orthography" - in fact morpho-phonemic orthography which was advocated by some Croatian philological schools of the time, and which was even officialized in the brief period of Independent State of Croatia (1941-45).

Dephonologization of diphtongal yat reflex could also be caused by assimilation within diphthong unicode|/ie̯/ itself: if the first part of a diphthong assimilates secondary part, so-called "secondary Ikavian reflex" develops; and if the second part of a diphthong assimilates the first part "secondary Ekavian reflex" develops. Most Štokavian Ikavian speeches of Croatian are exactly such - secondary Ikavian speeches, and from Ekavian speeches secondary are the Štokavian Ekavian speeches of Slavonian Posavina and Podravina. They have a common origin with Ijekavian Štokavian speeches in a sense of developing yat reflex as diphthongal reflex.

Direct Ikavian, Ekavian and mixed reflexes of yat in Čakavian speeches are a much older phenomenon, which has some traces in written monuments and is estimated to have been completed in 13th century. The practice of using old yat phoneme in Glagolitic and Bosnian Cyrillic writings in which Croatian was written in the centuries that followed was a consequence of conservative scribe tradition.

Reflexes of yat in Ijekavian speeches are from the very start dependent on syllable quantity. As it has already been said, standard Croatian writes tripgraph "ije" at the place of old long yat, which is in standard pronunciation manifested monosyllabically (diphthongally), and writes "je" at the place of short yat. E.g. "bijȇl" < PSl. *bělъ, "mlijéko" < *mlěko < by liquid metathesis from *melkò, "brijȇg" < *brěgъ < by liquid metathesis from *bȇrgъ, but "mjȅsto" < *mě̀sto, "vjȅra" < *vě̀ra, "mjȅra" < *mě̀ra. There are however some limitations; in front of /j/ and /o/ (< word-final /l/) yat has a reflex of short /i/. In scenarios when /l/ is not substituted by /o/, i.e. not word-finally (which is a common Štokavian isogloss), yat reflex is also different. E.g. "grijati" < *grějati, "sijati" < *sějati, "bijaše" < *bějaše; but "htio" : "htjela" < *htělъ : *htěla, "letio" : "letjela" (< *letělъ : *letěla). Standard language also allows some dual forms to coexist, e.g. "cȉo" and "cijȇl" < *cě̑lъ, "bȉo" and "bijȇl" < *bě́lъ.
Short yat has reflexes of /e/ and /je/ behind /r/ in consonant clusters, e.g. "brȅgovi" and "brjȅgovi", "grehòta" and "grjehòta", "strèlica" and "strjèlica", etc.
If short syllable with yat in the word stem lengthens due to the phonetic or morphological conditions, reflex of /je/ is preserved, e.g. "djȅlo" - "djȇlā", "nèdjelja" - "nȅdjēljā".

In modern standard Croatian syllables that carry yat reflexes are recognized by alternations in various inflected forms of the same word or in different words derived from the same stem. These alternating sequences "ije"/"je", "ije"/"e", "ije"/"i", "ije"/"Ø", "je"/"i", "je"/"ije", "e"/"ije", "e"/"je", "i"/"ije" are dependent on syllable quantity. Beside modern reflexes they also encompass apophonic alternations inherited from Proto-Slavic and Indo-European times, which were also conditioned by quantitative alternations of root syllable, e.g. "ùmrijēti" - "ȕmrēm", "lȉti" - "lijévati" etc. These alternations also show the difference between the diphthongal syllables with Ijekavian reflex of yat and syllables with primary phonemic sequence of "ije", which has nothing to do with yat and which never shows alternation in inflected forms, e.g. "zmìje", "nijèdan", "òrijent" etc.

Yat in Macedonian

In Macedonian, yat is rendered as /ε/ in almost all cases.

Yat in Russia and Ukraine

In the Russian language, confusion between the yat and "e" in writing occurs from the earliest records, but when exactly the final disappearance of the original sound from all dialects took place is a topic of scientific debate. Some scholars, for example W.K. Matthews, have placed the coalescence of the two sounds at the earliest historical phases (eleventh century or earlier), attributing its use until 1918 to Church Slavonic influence. Within Russia itself, however, a consensus has found its way into university textbooks of historical grammar (e.g., V.V. Ivanov), that, taking all the dialects into account, the sounds remained predominantly distinct until the eighteenth century, at least under stress, and are distinct to this day in some localities. It may be noteworthy in this respect that the yat in Ukrainian usually merged in sound with "i", and therefore has remained distinct from "e".

The story of the letter yat and its elimination from the Russian alphabet makes for an interesting footnote in Russian cultural history. See Reforms of Russian orthography for details. A full list of words that were written with the letter yat at the beginning of twentieth century can be found at in the Russian Wikipedia.

Yat in Rusyn

In the Rusyn language, yat was used until 1945,Fact|date=June 2007 and removed during the Soviet occupation. Nowadays some Rusyn writers and poets try to reinstate it, but this initiative isn't really popular among Rusyn intelligentsia.

Yat in Serbian

Standard Serbian is based on Neo-Štokavian dialect with Ekavian (/e/) reflex of long yat, with secondary Ijekavian variety allowed and used primarily by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Code positions

Yat is present in Unicode, though it is often absent from commonly available fonts.If your browser handles Unicode correctly and has a font which includes the letter, you should see the capital and small yats here: Unicode|Ѣѣ.

Its HTML Entities are &amp;#1122; or &amp;#x462; for the capital and &amp;#1123; or &amp;#x463; for the small letter.

ee also

* Yus
* Unicode|Ҍ (Semisoft sign)



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