Ezh (Ʒ ʒ) //, also called the "tailed z", is a letter whose lower case form is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), representing the voiced postalveolar fricative consonant. For example: vision //. It is pronounced as the "s" in "treasure" or the "si" in the word "precision". (See also Ž, the Persian alphabet letter ژ and the Cyrillic ж.)
Ezh is also used as a letter in some orthographies of Skolt Sami, both by itself, and with a caron (Ǯ ǯ). These denote partially voiced alveolar and post-alveolar affricates, respectively, broadly represented /dz/ and /dʒ/. It also appears in the orthography of some African languages, for example in the Aja language of Benin and the Dagbani language of Ghana, where the uppercase variant looks like a reflected sigma (Σ).
As a phonetic symbol, ezh originates with Isaac Pitman's English Phonotypic Alphabet in 1847, as a z with an added hook. The symbol is based on medieval cursive forms of Latin z, evolving into the blackletter z letter. In Unicode, however, the blackletter z (“tailed z”, German geschwänztes Z) is considered a glyph variant of z, and not an ezh.
In contexts where "tailed z" is used in contrast to tail-less z, notably in standard transcription of Middle High German, Unicode ʒ is sometimes used, strictly speaking incorrectly. Unicode offers ȥ "z with hook" as a grapheme for Middle High German coronal fricative instead.
Ezh as an abbreviation for dram
In Unicode, a standard designed to allow symbols from all writing systems to be represented and manipulated by computers, the ezh (alternatively ℨ) is used as the symbol to represent the abbreviation for dram, an apothecaries' system unit of mass.
Ezh and yogh
In Unicode 1.0, the character was unified with the unrelated character yogh (Ȝ ȝ), which was not correctly added to Unicode until Unicode 3.0. Historically, ezh is derived from Latin z, while yogh is derived from Latin g by way of insular G. The characters do look very similar, and do not appear alongside each other in any alphabet. To better differentiate between the two, the Oxford University Press and the Early English Text Society extend the uppermost tip of the 'yogh' into a little curvature upward.
Ezh and the digit three
The capital ezh looks similar to the common form of the figure three (3). To differentiate between the two characters, Ezh includes the sharp zigzag of the letter z, while the number is usually curved. This still remains a problem though, as some clocks (among other things) use a figure identical to a capital ezh for three.
Ezh and hiragana ro
Furthermore, the hiragana for "ru" is る, appearing identical to ろ except for the loop at the end.
Encoding and ligatures
The Unicode codepoints are U+01B7 for Ʒ and U+0292 for ʒ.
The IPA historically allowed for ezh to be ligatured to other letters; some of these ligatures have been added to the Unicode standard.
- Dezh (ʤ) ligatures ezh with the letter D (U+02A4).
- Lezh (ɮ) ligatures ezh with the letter L (U+026E).
- Tezh (ꜩ) (uppercase form Ꜩ) ligatures ezh with the letter T (U+A728 for Ꜩ and U+A729 for ꜩ).