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Ze (З з; italics: З з) is a letter of the Cyrillic script.
It commonly represents the voiced alveolar fricative /z/, like the pronunciation of ⟨z⟩ in "zebra".
Ze is romanized using the Latin letter ⟨z⟩.
The shape of Ze is very similar to the Arabic numeral three ⟨3⟩, and should not be confused with the Cyrillic letter E ⟨Э⟩.
History and shape
Ze is derived from the Greek letter Zeta (Ζ ζ).
In the Early Cyrillic alphabet its name was землꙗ (zemlja), meaning "earth". The shape of the letter originally looked similar to a Greek letter Ζ or Latin letter Z with a tail on the bottom (ꙁ). Though a majuscule form of this variant (Ꙁ) is encoded in Unicode, historically it was only used as caseless or lowercase.
In the Cyrillic numeral system, Zemlja had a value of 7.
Medieval Cyrillic manuscripts and Church Slavonic printed books have two variant forms of the letter Zemlja: з and ꙁ. Only the form ꙁ was used in the oldest ustav (uncial) writing style; з appeared in the later poluustav (half-uncial) manuscripts and typescripts, where the two variants are found at proportions of about 1:1. Some early grammars tried to give a phonetic distinction to these forms (like palatalized vs. nonpalatalized sound), but the system had no further development. Ukrainian scribes and typographers began to regularly use З/з in an initial position, and ꙁ otherwise (a system in use till the end of the 19th century). Russian scribes and typographers largely abandoned the widespread use of the variant ꙁ in favor of з in the wake of Patriarch Nikon's reforms. They still used the older form mostly in the case of two З's in row: ЗꙀ (the system in use till the mid-18th century).
The civil (Petrine) script knows only one shape of the letter: З/з. However, shapes similar to Z/z can be used in certain stylish typefaces.
In calligraphy and in general handwritten text, lowercase з can be written either fully over the baseline (similar to the printed form) or with the lower half under the baseline and with the loop (for the Russian language, a standard shape since the middle of the 20th century).
The letter Ze may represent:
- /z/, the voiced alveolar sibilant (Macedonian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin, Russian, Ukrainian, Rusyn and Belarusian);
- /zʲ/, if followed by ⟨ь⟩ or any of the palatalizing vowels, as in Russian зеркало [ˈzʲer.kə.ɫə] (“mirror”);
- /s/, the voiceless alveolar sibilant (in final position or before voiceless consonants);
- /sʲ/, if followed by ⟨ь⟩ in final position or before voiceless consonants;
- /ʒ/ or /z̠/ (Iron dialect of Ossetian, but /z/ in Digoron and Kudairag);
- clusters ⟨зж⟩ and ⟨зш⟩ are pronounced in Russian as if they were ⟨жж⟩ and ⟨шш⟩, respectively (even if ⟨з⟩ is the last letter of a preposition, like in Russian без жены “without wife” or из школы “from school”);
- cluster ⟨зч⟩ (sometimes also ⟨здч⟩) is pronounced in Russian as if it was ⟨щ⟩ (рассказчик “narrator”, звёздчатый “stellar, star-shaped”, без чая “without tea”);
- cluster ⟨дз⟩ can be pronounced (mostly in Ukrainian, Rusyn and Belarusian) as the voiced alveolar affricate /dz/ (Ukrainian дзеркало “mirror”) or its palatalized form /dzʲ/ (Belarusian гадзіннік “clock”), but if ⟨д⟩ and ⟨з⟩ belong to different morphemes, then they are pronounced separately. In the standard Iron dialect of Ossetian, this cluster simply stands for /z/; other dialects treat it as the affricate /d͡z/.
- /t͡s/, the voiceless alveolar affricate in Mongolian.
З-shaped Latin letters
A letter that looks like Cyrillic Ze (actually, a stylization of digit 3) was used in the Latin Zhuang alphabet from 1957 to 1986 to represent the third (high) tone. In 1986, it was replaced by ⟨j⟩.
- 3 : Digit Three
- Ζ ζ : Greek letter Zeta
- Z z : Latin letter Z
- Ʒ ʒ : Latin letter Ezh
- Ȝ ȝ : Latin letter Yogh
- Ɜ ɜ : Latin letter reversed open E
- Ҙ ҙ : Cyrillic letter Dhe or Ze with descender
- Ӡ ӡ : Cyrillic letter Abkhazian Dze
- Ԑ ԑ : Cyrillic letter Reversed Ze
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER ZE||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER ZE||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER ZEMLYA||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER ZEMLYA|
|UTF-8||208 151||D0 97||208 183||D0 B7||234 153 128||EA 99 80||234 153 129||EA 99 81|
|Numeric character reference||З
|Named character reference||З||з|
|KOI8-R and KOI8-U||250||FA||218||DA|
|Code page 855||244||F4||243||F3|
|Code page 866||135||87||167||A7|