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Dze (Ѕ ѕ) is a letter of the Cyrillic script, used in the Macedonian language to represent the voiced alveolar affricate /dz/, like the pronunciation of ⟨ds⟩ in "needs". It is derived from the letter dzelo or zelo of the Early Cyrillic alphabet, and it was used historically for Old Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, Russian, and Romanian.
Although fully obsolete everywhere in the Cyrillic world by the 19th century, the letter zelo was revived in 1944 by the designers of the alphabet of the then-codified Macedonian language. As the Macedonian language is central to the Balkan Linguistic Union, the phonetical need for this individual letter is consistent with the phoneme's presence in Greek (τζ), and Albanian (x), both non-Slavic neighbours to the Macedonian language. In the early 21st century, the same letter also appeared in Vojislav Nikčević's proposal for the new alphabet for the modern Montenegrin language.
The letter is descended from dzělo () in the Early Cyrillic alphabet, where it had the numerical value 6. The letter Dzělo was itself based on the letter Dzelo in the Glagolitic alphabet. In the Glagolitic alphabet, it was written ⟨Ⰷ⟩, and had the numerical value of 8. In Old Church Slavonic it was called "ѕѣло" (pronounced dzeló), and in Church Slavonic it is called "ѕѣлѡ" (pronounced zeló).
The origin of Glagolitic letter dzelo is unclear, but the Cyrillic Ѕ may have been influenced by the Greek stigma ⟨Ϛ⟩, the medieval form of the archaic letter digamma, which had the same form and numerical value (6). Thus the visual similarity of the Cyrillic ⟨Ѕ⟩ and Latin ⟨S⟩ is largely coincidental.
The initial sound of ⟨Ѕ⟩ in Old Church Slavonic was a soft /dz/ or /z/, which often corresponds in cognates to a /ɡ/ sound in modern Russian, as in мъноѕи (Russian: много), по ноѕѣ (Russian: нога), and растрьѕати (Russian: расторгать). However, already in the Old Slavic period the difference between ⟨Ѕ⟩ and ⟨З⟩ began to be blurred, and in the written Church Slavonic language from the middle of the 17th century ⟨Ѕ⟩ was used only formally. The letter's distinguishing features from ⟨З⟩ are
- ⟨Ѕ⟩ is used in root derived from these seven words beginning with ⟨Ѕ⟩: ѕвѣзда, ѕвѣрь, ѕеліе, ѕлакъ, ѕлый, ѕмій, ѕѣлѡ;
- ⟨З⟩ is used in all remaining cases.
- ⟨Ѕ⟩ has the numerical value of 6, whereas ⟨З⟩ has the numerical value of 7;
In the initial version of Russian civil script of Tsar Peter I (1708), the ⟨Ѕ⟩ was assigned the sound /z/, and the letter ⟨З⟩ was abolished. However, in the second version of the civil script (1710), ⟨З⟩ was restored, and ⟨Ѕ⟩ was abolished. Both versions of the alphabet were used until 1735, which is considered the date of the final elimination of ⟨Ѕ⟩ in Russian.
- See also Reforms of Russian orthography.
⟨Ѕ⟩ was used in the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet (where it represented /dz/) until the alphabet was abolished in favor of a Latin-based alphabet in 1860-62. ⟨Ѕ⟩ was also used—albeit rarely—to the middle of the 19th century in the Serbian civil script, whose orthography was closer to Church Slavonic (compared to Russian). Vuk Karadžić's Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (1868) did not include ⟨Ѕ⟩, instead favoring the digraph ⟨ДЗ⟩ to represent /dz/.
In Ukrainian, the sound /d͡z/ is integrated as part of the language's phonology, but it mainly occurs in loanwords rather than in words of native Ukrainian origin. As such, the digraph ⟨ДЗ⟩ is used to represent both the phoneme /d͡z/ and the separately occurring consonant cluster |d.z| which Ukrainian phonotactics assimilate as /d͡z.z/.
⟨Ѕ⟩ is now only used in the Macedonian alphabet. A commission formed to standardize the Macedonian language and orthography decided to adopt the letter on December 4, 1944, after a vote of 10-1. The letter represents /dz/ (examples including: ѕид/dzid, 'wall' and ѕвезда/dzvezda, 'star'). The corresponding sound is used in all dialects of Macedonian.
⟨Ѕ⟩ is also included in Microsoft's Serbian Cyrillic keyboard layout, although it is not used in the Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet. The Serbian keyboard in Ubuntu replaces Ѕ with a second Ж.
Related letters and other similar characters
- З з : Cyrillic letter Ze
- S s : Latin letter S
- Ƨ ƨ : Latin letter Reversed S
- X x : Latin letter X, an Albanian alphabet letter
- Ꚃ ꚃ : Cyrillic letter Dzwe
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER DZE||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER DZE||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER REVERSED DZE||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER REVERSED DZE|
|UTF-8||208 133||D0 85||209 149||D1 95||234 153 132||EA 99 84||234 153 133||EA 99 85|
|Numeric character reference||Ѕ
|Named character reference||Ѕ||ѕ|
|Code page 855||137||89||136||88|
- Glagolitic alphabet
- Early Cyrillic alphabet
- Cyrillic script
- Russian alphabet
- Reforms of Russian orthography
- Romanian Cyrillic alphabet
- Macedonian alphabet
- Dontchev Daskalov, Roumen; Marinov, Tchavdar (2013), Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies, Balkan Studies Library, BRILL, p. 454, ISBN 900425076X
- Gamanovich, Alypy (1964), Грамматика Церковно-Славянскаго Языка (Grammar of the Church Slavonic Language), Jordanville, New York: Printing shop of St. Job of Pochaev, Holy Trinity Monastery (published 1984), ISBN 978-0-88465-064-5
- The dictionary definition of Ѕ at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of ѕ at Wiktionary
- A Berdnikov and O Lapko, "Old Slavonic and Church Slavonic in TEX and Unicode", EuroTEX ’99 Proceedings, September 1999 (PDF)
- 18th century Macedonian fresco depicting Church Slavonic alphabet