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Ą (minuscule: ą) is a letter in the Polish, Kashubian, Lithuanian, Creek, Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Osage, Hocąk, Mescalero, Gwich'in, Tutchone, and Elfdalian alphabets. It is formed from the letter a and an ogonek and usually, except for modern Lithuanian and Polish, denotes a nasal a sound.
In Polish and Kashubian, ą is right after a in the alphabet but never appears at the beginning of a word. Originally ą was a nasal a but in modern times, its pronunciation has shifted to a nasal o sound. The letter doesn't simply have one determined pronunciation, but most often it will be pronounced /ɔw̃/, or just simply /ɔ/ followed by a nasal consonant with a place of articulation that appears in the Polish language. Therefore, ą will sometimes be pronounced as /ɔn/, /ɔm/, /ɔŋ/, /ɔɳ/, /ɔɲ/.
Unlike French but rather like Portuguese ão, nasal vowels in Polish are asynchronous: they are pronounced as an oral vowel + a nasal semivowel [ɔw̃] or a nasal vowel + a nasal semivowel. For the sake of simplicity, it is sometimes represented as /ɔ̃/:
- obowiązek ("duty", "obligation"), pronounced [ɔbɔˈvʲɔw̃zɛk]
- robią ("they are making"), [ˈrɔbʲɔw̃]
- wciąż ("still"), [ˈft͡ɕɔw̃ʂ]
- kąpać ("to bathe") is pronounced [ˈkɔmpat͡ɕ]
- pająk ("spider"), [ˈpajɔŋk]
- bądź (imperative "be"), as in Bądź cierpliwy! ("Be patient!"), [ˈbɔɲt͡ɕ]
- oglądając ("(by) watching"), [ɔɡlɔnˈdajɔnt͡s]
In dialects of some regions, ą in final position is also pronounced as /ɔm/; thus, robią is occasionally pronounced as [ˈrɔbʲɔm].
Polish ą evolved from being a long nasal a of medieval Polish into a short nasal o in the modern language. The medieval vowel, along with its short counterpart, evolved in turn from the merged nasal *ę and *ǫ of Late Proto-Slavic.
|Early Proto-Slavic||*em/*en/*im/*in and *am/*an/*um/*un|
|Late Proto-Slavic||/ẽ/ and /õ/, transcribed ⟨ę⟩ and ⟨ǫ⟩|
|Medieval Polish||short and long /ã/, sometimes written approx. ⟨ø⟩|
|Modern Polish||short /ã/ → /ɛw̃/, /ɛn/, /ɛm/, written ⟨ę⟩|
long /ã/ → /ɔw̃/, /ɔn/, /ɔm/, written ⟨ą⟩
Another explanation is connected to the adoption of the Old Czech-style orthography of the Latin alphabet to write Polish at the turn of the 16th century. In Poland-Lithuania, Latin still dominated in writing in the Kingdom of Poland, and the Cyrillic-based vernacular of Ruthenian had been in official use in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since the 13th century. In pronunciation, the Church Cyrillic letter big yus (Ѫ ѫ) corresponds to the pronunciation of the Polish ą. However, it is little yus (Ѧ ѧ), which is phonetically similar to ę and, more importantly, shares visual resemblances with the Latin alphabet initial letter (A, a) plus an ogonek, that some believe led to ogonek's introduction. This, according to proponents of the theory, resulted in the letter ą for denoting the nasal o, when it logically should have been ǫ rather than ą. When the ogonek had already been in place as the diacritic for marking nasality in vowels, it was appended to e, resulting in ę for nasal e.
The letter often alternates with ę.
- "tooth": ząb → zęby ("teeth"),
"snake": wąż → węże ("snakes")
- "husband" in nominative: mąż → z mężem ("with husband", in instrumental case)
- "weight": ciężar → ciążyć ("to weigh down, to be a burden"),
"month": miesiąc → miesięczny ("monthly"),
"a judge": sędzia → sądzić ("to judge, think")
- "row" in nominative: rząd → cztery razy z rzędu ("four times in a row", genitive case)
However, in words derived from rząd ("government"), the vowel does not change. Thus, rządu (genitive of rząd) retains the ą, e.g., rozporządzenie rządu ("government's ordinance")
The letter is most often found at the end of the noun to construct an ending of accusative case, as in aslą [aːslaː], the accusative of asla (ground, floor); both a and ą in aslą are pronounced [aː] (a long a). Thus, ą is used to distinguish between the transcription of accusative and the nominative cases of the noun asla.
Nasal an/am forms are now pronounced [aː], as in sąrašas (list) and san-grąža (turnover, return).
In some cases, ą, ę and į (but never ė) may be used in different forms interchangeably, as in tąsa (extension) - tęsia (extends) - tįsoti (to lie extended). Finally, some verbs have it in the middle of a word but only in the present tense, e.g., (bąla (is getting white), but not pabalo (has become white).
The letter can also be found at the beginning of several words, e.g., ąsotis [a:so:tis] (jug).
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2008)
In some indigenous languages of the Americas, the letter denotes a nasal a sound:
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2015)
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH OGONEK||LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH OGONEK|
|UTF-8||196 132||C4 84||196 133||C4 85|
|Numeric character reference||Ą||Ą||ą||ą|
|ISO-8859-13 and Windows-1257||192||C0||224||E0|
|ISO-8859-2 and ISO-8859-4||161||A1||177||B1|
|Mac Central European||132||84||136||88|
- Kashubian alphabet
- Lithuanian alphabet
- Elfdalian alphabet
- Polish phonology
- Polish alphabet