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The Ѣ (lowercase letter ѣ ), called Jat (Cyrillic ять, wiss. Transliteration jat ' ), is a Cyrillic letter, which in Old Church Slavonic represented a sound that goes back to the original Slavonic reconstructed * ě . This is why this sound is also called Jat in Slavonic studies .

The sign should not be confused with the semi-soft sign Ҍ ҍ .

The sound * ě

The ancient Slavonic sound * ě was initially derived from the Urindo-European long * ē , later the diphthongs * ai and * oi became * ě (see e.g. idg. * Sēmen > urslaw. * Sěmę , Latin. Sēmen , ahd. sâmô , nhd. seeds ). The pronunciation of this sound was probably a long, very open front tongue vowel [æː] , but perhaps it has also been dialectically different since very early times and in some areas a very narrow front tongue vowel [eː] .

In the further development, * ě is represented in the various Slavic languages with different sounds on the entire scale from [a] to [i] .

The representation of * ě in East Slavic

In Russian and Byelorussian , * ě is combined with * e to form [ɛ] , while in Ukrainian it appears as [i] . It should be noted that this [i] is different from the reflex of the ancient Slavonic * i , which is represented in Ukrainian as [ɪ] . So you can't call Ukrainian “Ikavian” . ( Examples )

The representation of * ě in West Slavonic

In Polish , * ě - similar to Bulgarian - becomes [a] in front of “hard” Dental , in all other cases it becomes [ɛ] (see also Polish vowel accentuation ).

In Czech , long * ě has become [iː] (and thus coincides with * i ), short * ě has become [ʲɛ] (just like * ę ).

In Slovak , long * ě became [iɛ] and short became [ɛ] .

In Upper Sorbian the * ě after s and z has become [ɨ] , while in Lower Sorbian it has changed to [ɛ] .

( Examples )

The representation of * ě in South Slavonic


In Slovenian , * ě developed into a closed [e] - in contrast to * e , which is represented as an open [ɛ] . ( Examples )

Serbo-Croatian dialects: Ekavian, Ijekavian, Ikavian

While in the Kajkavic dialects of Croatian * ě is predominantly represented as a closed [e] as in Slovenian, both the štokavian and the čakavian dialects are further subdivided into Ekavian, Ijekavian and ikavian according to the different representation of * e . In the Ekavian dialects * ě with * e to [ɛ] and in the ikavischen with * i to [i] . In the Ijekavian dialects there was a diphthong [iɛ] , which is written long as ije and short as je and is mainly used in the Bosnian language. (This is why the Ijekavian dialects are sometimes also called Jekavian ; cf. the dialect map in Brabec / Kraste / Živković.) In Ijekavian there is the ikavic before o  <  l , after r sometimes the ekavic reflex, e.g. B. ht i o < * chъt ě 'wanted', vr e mena < * vr ě mene 'time (Gen. Sg.)' (But: vr ije me < * vrěmę 'time (nom. Sg.)') .

The modern standard varieties all developed in the 19th century on the basis of a štokavian- ijekavian dialect (from the East Herzegovina region ), so that standard Bosnian , Croatian and Montenegrin as well as the Serbian variety in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Ijekavian. Only in Serbian Serbia has the Ekavic of Vojvodina finally prevailed. ( Examples )

Bulgarian and Macedonian

Jat border, west of people * ì only as [ɛ] is represented

The Eastern South Slavic dialects are by various mixtures of the * E reflections show [a] and [ɛ] in which the east [a] predominates and in the west [ɛ] .

In the Bulgarian standard language , * ě is represented as [ʲa] if it was in a stressed position before a non-palatalized (“hard”) consonant. The consonants ч , ш and ж are counted as palatalized consonants, although they are not palatal in Bulgarian. In all other cases there is [ɛ] . This / a / - / e / alternation is called я-кане or променливо я in many Bulgarian textbooks and grammars .

In Macedonian , * ě has collapsed in all positions with * e to [ɛ] (just like in Ekavian Serbian).

Overview with example words

Ur-Slavic * bělъjь
'white' (Nom. Sg. m.)
(long * ě )
* běliji
'white' (nom. pl. m.)
(long * ě )
* měriti
(short * ě )
* čitati
(* i)
* devętь
(* e)
* sěmję
Russian belyj (белый) belye (белые) merit '(мерить) čitat '(читать) devjat '(девять) semja (семя)
Belarusian bely (белы) belyja (белыя) merac '(мераць) čytac '(чытаць) dzevjac '(дзевяць) semja (семя)
Ukrainian bilyj (білий) bili (білі) mirjaty (міряти) čytaty (читати) dev ”jat '(дев'ять) sim ”yes (сім'я)
Polish biały bieli mierzyć czytać dziewięć siemię
Lower Sorbian běły - měriś cytaś źewjeś semje
Upper Sorbian běły běli měrić čitać dźewjeć symjo
Czech bílý bílí měřit číst devět semeno (literary sémě)
Slovak biely bieli merať čítať deväť semeno (or semä)
Slovenian evil beli meriti čitati devet seme
Ekavian beli (бели) beli (бели) meriti (мерити) čitati (читати) devet (девет) seme (семе)
Ijekavian bijeli (бијели) bijeli (бијели) mjeriti (мјерити) čitati (читати) devet (девет) sjeme (сјеме)
Ikavian bili bili miriti čitati devet sime
Macedonian bel (бел) beli (бели) meri (мери) čita (чита) devet (девет) seme (семе)
Bulgarian bjal (бял) beli (бели) merja (меря) četa (чета) devet (девет) seme (семе)

The letter ѣ


In the Glagolitic alphabet there was only one letter GlagolitsaJat.gif(in the Croatian , angular script Square Glagolitic Jat.png, form of distinction Square Glagolitic capital Jat.png), which simultaneously denoted * ě and * ja . This suggests that the Glagolitic alphabet was invented in a region where * ě and * ja had coincided.


The Cyrillic letter Jat in today's civil script, italic and in old Cyrilliza

The Cyrillic alphabet, which evidently originated in a different area than the Glagolitic alphabet, distinguishes between ѣ for * ě and я for * ja .

According to August Leskien's classification , the Old Church Slavonic canon only includes texts written in Cyrillic in which the graphemes for * ě and * ja are confused, as this suggests that they are copied from a Glagolitic model. Those manuscripts that do not meet this criterion are not counted in the canon, which is why their language can be described as an editing of Church Slavonic . As a result, an area-specific definition was made for the definition of Old Church Slavonic, whereby various manuscripts are not considered canon texts despite their considerable age.

The letter no longer occurs in today's Slavic written languages. It was most recently abolished in Russian during the spelling reform in 1918 and not until 1945 in Bulgarian .

The so-called semi-soft sign ( Ҍ ) is very similar in terms of its letter form , but it has a different function.

Numerical value

The Jat is one of those Glagolitic or Cyrillic letters that designate a sound that did not exist in Greek , so that there was no Greek letter for it that could have been adopted. Accordingly, Jat has no numerical value in either Glagolitic or Cyrillic. The origin of the letter forms is unclear.

Character encoding

default Uppercase Ѣ Minuscule ѣ
Unicode Codepoint U + 0462 U + 0463
UTF-8 D1 A2 D1 A3
XML / XHTML decimal &#1122; &#1123;
hexadecimal &#x0462; &#x0463;

Web links

Commons : Jat  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Map of Serbo-Croatian Dialects ( English ) sas.upenn.edu. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  2. Vassilka Radeva (ed.): Bulgarian Grammar , page 19. Helmut Buske Verlag, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-87548-321-9 .
  • Herbert Bräuer . Slavic Linguistics , Vol. I: Introduction, Phonology. Berlin 1961 (= Göschen Collection, Vol. 1191), §§ 31, 32, 40, 72.
  • Michael Samilov. The phoneme jat ' in Slavic. The Hague et al. a. 1964.
  • Charles E. Townsend, Laura A. Janda. Common Slavic and Slavic in comparison . Introduction to the development of phonology and inflection, with a special focus on Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbian / Croatian, Bulgarian. (Original title: Common and comparative Slavic , translated by Peter Rehder). In: Slavic Contributions . Study aids; Volume 12, Sagner, Munich 2002, chap. 5.1, 10. ISBN 3-87690-831-0 .
  • Nicolina Trunte. Словѣньскъи ѩзыкъ / Slavenskij jazyk . A practical textbook of Church Slavonic in 30 lessons. At the same time an introduction to Slavic philology. Volume I: Old Church Slavonic . 5th, revised edition, Sagner, Munich 2003, chap. 1.4, 15.1. ISBN 3-87690-480-3 .