Soft sign

Soft sign
Cyrillic letter
Soft Sign
Cyrillic letter Yeri - uppercase and lowercase.svg
Unicode (hex)
majuscule: U+042C
minuscule: U+044C
Cyrillic script
Slavic letters
А Б В Г Ґ Д Ђ
Ѓ Е Ѐ Ё Є Ж З
Ѕ И Ѝ І Ї Й Ј
К Л Љ М Н Њ О
П Р С Т Ћ Ќ У
Ў Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш
Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я
Non-Slavic letters
Ӑ Ӓ Ә Ӛ Ӕ Ғ Ҕ
Ӻ Ӷ Ԁ Ԃ Ӗ Ӂ
Җ Ӝ Ԅ Ҙ Ӟ Ԑ Ӡ
Ԇ Ӣ Ҋ Ӥ Қ Ӄ Ҡ
Ҟ Ҝ Ԟ Ԛ Ӆ Ԓ Ԡ
Ԉ Ԕ Ӎ Ӊ Ң Ӈ Ҥ
Ԣ Ԋ Ӧ Ө Ӫ Ҩ Ԥ
Ҧ Ҏ Ԗ Ҫ Ԍ Ҭ Ԏ
Ӯ Ӱ Ӳ Ү Ұ Ҳ Ӽ
Ӿ Һ Ԧ Ҵ Ҷ Ӵ Ӌ
Ҹ Ҽ Ҿ Ӹ Ҍ Ӭ
Ԙ Ԝ Ӏ
Archaic letters
Ҁ Ѻ Ѹ Ѡ Ѿ Ѣ
Ѥ Ѧ Ѫ Ѩ Ѭ Ѯ
Ѱ Ѳ Ѵ Ѷ    
List of Cyrillic letters
Cyrillic digraphs

The soft sign (Ь, ь), also known as (the front) yer, is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Old Church Slavonic, it represented a short (or "reduced") front vowel. As with its companion, the back yer, the vowel phoneme it designated was later partly dropped and partly merged with other vowels. In the modern Slavic Cyrillic writing systems (all East-Slavic plus Bulgarian and Church Slavic), it does not represent an individual sound, but rather indicates softening (palatalization) of the preceding consonant or (less commonly) just has a traditional orthographic usage with no phonetic meaning (like Russian туш 'flourish after a toast' and тушь 'India ink', both pronounced [tuʂ], but different in grammatical gender and declension). Also, it has a function of "separation sign": in Russian, vowels after the soft sign are pronounced separately from the previous consonant and are iotated (compare Russian льют [lʲjut] '(they) pour/cast' and лют [lʲut] '(he is) fierce').

In Slavistic transcription Ь and Ъ are used to denote Protoslavic extra-short sounds /ĭ/ and /ŭ/ respectively (e.g. slověnьskъ adj. ‘slavonic’)

Among Slavic languages, the soft sign has the most limited use in Bulgarian: since 1945, the only possible position is one between consonants and <о> (for example, in names Жельо, Кръстьо, and Гьончо).

The Cyrillic variant of the Serbian language (Vukovica) has had no soft sign since the mid-19th century: palatalization is represented by special consonant letters instead of this sign (some of these letters, such as Њ or Љ, were designed as ligatures with the soft sign). The modern Macedonian writing system, based on the Serbian variant, has had no soft sign since its creation in 1944.

Under normal orthographic rules, it has no uppercase form as no word begins with this letter. However, Cyrillic type fonts do normally provide an uppercase form for setting type in all caps, or for using it as element of various serial numbers (like series of Soviet banknotes) and indices (for example, there once existed a model of Old Russian steam locomotives marked "Ь"ru:Паровоз Ь).

In the romanization of Cyrillic words, soft signs are typically replaced with the prime symbol (or, alternatively, apostrophe) or just ignored (especially in the final position: Тверь=Tver, Обь=Ob etc.).

Contents

Name of the letter

  • Old Church Slavonic: ѥрь (yerĭ)—meaning of the word is unknown
  • Church Slavonic: єрь (yer')
  • Bulgarian: ер малък [er ˈma.lək] ('small yer'), whereas the hard sign is named ер голям ('big yer')
  • Russian: мягкий знак [ˈmʲæxʲ.kʲɪj znak] ('soft sign'), or (an archaic, mostly pre-1917 name) ерь [jerʲ]
  • Ukrainian: м’який знак [mja.ˈkɪj znak] ('soft sign')
  • Belarusian: мяккі знак [mʲak.kʲi znak] ('soft sign')
  • Serbian (and all its variants): tanko jer/танко јер ('thin yer'), or simply jer/јер ('yer')—whereas the hard sign is named debelo jer/дебело јер ('thick yer') or simply jor/јор ('yor')

Use in Latin alphabets

Ь was also used in the Soviet Union in the latinized Karelian alphabet made official in 1931 and used until re-Cyrillicization of Karelian in 1937.

Related letters and other similar characters

  • Ъ ъ : Cyrillic letter Yer
  • Ҍ ҍ : Cyrillic letter Semisoft sign
  • Ѣ ѣ : Cyrillic letter Yat
  • Ы ы : Cyrillic letter Yery
  • Љ љ : Cyrillic letter Lje
  • Њ њ : Cyrillic letter Nje

Computing codes

character Ь ь
Unicode name CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
SOFT SIGN
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
SOFT SIGN
character encoding decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1068 042C 1100 044C
UTF-8 208 172 D0 AC 209 140 D1 8C
Numeric character reference &#1068; &#x042C; &#1100; &#x044C;
KOI8-R and KOI8-U 248 F8 216 D8
Code page 855 238 EE 237 ED
Code page 866 156 9C 236 EC
Windows-1251 220 DC 252 FC
ISO-8859-5 204 CC 236 EC
Macintosh Cyrillic 156 9C 252 FC

External links


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