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|Cyrillic letter Yo|
|The Cyrillic script|
In English, the letter Yo is romanized using the Latin ë (according to the ALA–LC and British Standards), ë (yë word-initially) (BGN/PCGN) or yo (orthographic transcription) for Russian, and as i͡o (ALA–LC), yo (BGN/PCGN), or ë (BSI) for Belarusian. In international systems, Yo is romanized as ë (ISO 9).
It was derived from the Greek letter Epsilon (Ε ε).
- This section describes the pronunciation in Russian. Other languages may have subtle differences.
The letter ⟨ё⟩ is always in a stressed syllable.
Exact pronunciation of the vowel sound of ⟨ё⟩ can vary due to allophony in Slavic languages. Except in /jo/, it more likely sounds [ɵ] – like 'bird' in Australian English – rather than [o] (the usual phone for stressed /o/). See palatalization for some background.
Yo was first used in Russian, where its status is now ambiguous.
The letter Yo is the seventh letter of the alphabet, but although it indicates a distinct sound from Ye, it is often, but not always, treated as the same letter for purposes of alphabetisation and sorting. Thus in the dictionary, ёж comes after едок and before ездить. ⟨Ё⟩ represents the phoneme /o/ after /j/ or a soft consonant (or, occasionally, after ⟨ж⟩, ⟨ш⟩), and should always be stressed. It alternates with ⟨е⟩ written in non-stressed positions.
In modern Russian, the reflex of Common Slavonic /e/ under stress and following a palatalized consonant but not preceding a palatalized consonant is /o/. Compare, for example, Russian моё moyo ("my" neuter nominative and accusative singular) and Polish/Czech/Slovak/Serbo-Croatian/Slovenian moje. However, since this sound change took place after the introduction of writing, the letter ⟨е⟩ continued to be written in this position. It was not until the 18th century that efforts were made to represent the sound in writing.
From the mid-1730s it appears sporadically as ⟨іо⟩ or ⟨і͡о⟩, a digraph which was officially adopted on 18 November 1783 at a session of the Russian Academy under the presidency of Princess Dashkova, and it was used in the Academy Dictionary (1789–94), but it never gained great popularity. The letter ⟨ё⟩ was first used in print in 1795 by the poet Ivan Dmitriev and was soon taken up by such influential writers as Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin and Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin, which assured its acceptance in the literary norm.
The diacritic ◌̈ does not appear above any other letter in Russian and serves no purpose except to differentiate between ⟨е⟩ and ⟨ё⟩.
Except for a brief period after World War II, the use of ⟨ё⟩ was never obligatory in standard Russian orthography. By and large, it is used only in dictionaries and in pedagogical literature intended for children and students of Russian as a second language, Otherwise ⟨е⟩ is used, and ⟨ё⟩ occurs only when it is necessary to avoid ambiguity (for example, to distinguish between все ("everybody") and всё ("everything") when it is not obvious from the context which is meant) or in words (principally proper nouns) whose pronunciation may not be familiar to the reader. Recent recommendations (2006) from the Russian Language Institute are to use ⟨ё⟩ in proper nouns in order to avoid the wrong pronunciation. It is perfectly permissible, however, to mark ⟨ё⟩ whenever it occurs, which is the preference of some Russian authors and periodicals.
The fact that ⟨ё⟩ is frequently replaced with ⟨е⟩ in print often causes some confusion to both Russians and non-Russians, as it makes Russian words and names harder to transcribe accurately. One recurring problem is with Russian surnames, as both -ев (-ev) and -ёв (-yov) are common endings. Thus the English-speaking world knows two leaders of the former Soviet Union as Khrushchev and Gorbachev though their surnames end in Russian with -ёв, better transcribed -yov (which is why many English-speakers pronounce these names as if they end in -ov, even though they spell them with -ev). It is important to note that since ⟨ё⟩ usually makes the syllable stressed, "Khrusch(e)v" and "Khrusch(o)v" may sound very differently since English-speakers traditionally shift stress to the first syllable. Some words and names have also changed in Russian because of the confusion: some have had their ⟨ё⟩ replaced with ⟨е⟩, and some ⟨е⟩ replaced with ⟨ё⟩.
The advent of the computer era has had a great influence on the process of substitution ⟨ё⟩ with ⟨е⟩ for a non-obvious reason: currently the Russian alphabet contains 33 letters including ⟨ё⟩, and codepage designers usually prefer to omit ⟨ё⟩ so that all Russian letters can be placed into sections of 16 letters (16, like other powers of 2, is often preferred in computing over other numbers). Some examples are pre-Unicode character pages 866 for Microsoft DOS and 1251 for Microsoft Windows. Since in both cases ⟨ё⟩ was placed outside its alphabetically correct position, it made text sorting more complex. Software developers would then choose to substitute all ⟨ё⟩ letters with ⟨е⟩ on early stage of text processing to simplify later stages.
Transcription of foreign words
⟨Ё⟩ can be used in Russian transcription of foreign words originating from languages that use the sound /ø/, spelled eu/ö/ő/ø (French, Germanic languages other than English, Uralic languages), such as "Gerhard Schröder", whose last name is transliterated as Шpёдep (while the ⟨ё⟩-less Bulgarian uses ⟨ьo⟩ for the same vowel). This letter is also often used for transcribing the English vowel /ɜr/, in names. E.g. Роберт Бёрнс for "Robert Burns" or Хёрст for "Hearst"/"Hurst"/"Hirst".
However, the sound [jo] in words from European languages is normally transcribed into Russian as ⟨йо⟩ in initial and post-vocalic position, and ⟨ьo⟩ after consonants. E.g. Нью-Йорк for "New York" and батальон for "battalion". One notable exception, however, is the Russian word for "serious", which is spelled серьёзный rather than, say, *сериозный. (In the 19th and early 20th century, both spellings серьёзный and серіозный were in use; the former stems from French sérieux, the latter from Latin seriosus.)
The letter ⟨ё⟩ is normally used to transcribe the Japanese ⟨よ⟩ into Russian Cyrillic, appearing in the Russian transcription of Japanese that would appear as yo (よ), kyo (きょ), sho (しょ) etc. in Hepburn Romanization. Though, there are few traditional spellings which break this rule: for example, "Yokohama" is spelled in Russian with ⟨Йо⟩, not ⟨Ё⟩. Similarly, ⟨ё⟩ is used to transcribe into Russian Cyrillic the Korean sounds romanized as ⟨yo⟩.
It is thought that the letter ⟨ё⟩ is found in at least 2,500 surnames used in Russia and other states of the former USSR. It is not uncommon that a person who has one of these surnames to possess both some legal documents (passports, ids, marriage and birth certificates, property ownership papers, etc.) in which his or her name is written with an ⟨ё⟩, and some that use the simple ⟨е⟩ instead. In other situations a child's birth certificate may have a ⟨ё⟩ while the parents' identity papers all have ⟨е⟩. On occasions such mismatches caused citizens problems when receiving inheritance or completing property transactions.
Belarusian and Rusyn
In Belarusian and Rusyn, the letters ⟨е⟩ and ⟨ё⟩ are separate and not interchangeable.
Unlike the Russian spelling system, ⟨ё⟩ is mandatory in the Cyrillic alphabet used by the Dungan language. In that Sinitic language, the ⟨е⟩/⟨ё⟩ distinction is crucial, as the former is used such as to write the syllable that would have the pinyin spelling of ye in Standard Chinese, while the latter is used for the syllable that appears as yao in pinyin. ⟨Ё⟩ is very prominent in Dungan spelling, since the very common syllable appearing as yang in Pinyin is spelled ⟨ён⟩ in Dungan.
Related letters and other similar characters
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER IO||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER IO|
|UTF-8||208 129||D0 81||209 145||D1 91|
|Numeric character reference||Ё||Ё||ё||ё|
|KOI8-R and KOI8-U||179||B3||163||A3|
- Е. В. Пчелов, "Буква ё в русской азбуке и письменности",Палеография и кодикология: 300 лет после Монфокона. Материалы (Ред. М. В. Бибиков и др.), Москва, 2008: стр.139–148
- «Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации. Полный академический справочник. Под ред. В. В. Лопатина», ЭКСМО, 2006. Стр. 20, § 5
- Я. К. Грот, Русское правописание, 15-ое изд., Санктпетербург, 1902, p.84
- Буквоеды, Novoye Delo, 2009-06-18
|Look up Ё or ё in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Kevin O'Flynn. "Town To Honor Forgotten Letter". The St. Petersburg Times.