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{{Other uses|YER (disambiguation)}} {{Cyrillic alphabet navbox| Heading=Cyrillic letter Yer| Image=[[File:Italic Cyrillic letter Yer - uppercase and lowercase.svg|100px]]| uuc=042A|ulc=044A}} {{IPA notice}} The letter '''yer''' ('''Ъ''', '''ъ''', italics ''Ъ'', ''ъ'') of the [[Cyrillic alphabet]], also spelled '''jer''' or '''er''', is known as the ''hard sign'' (твёрдый знак {{IPA-ru|ˈtvʲor.dɨj znak|}}) in the modern [[Russian alphabet|Russian]] and [[Rusyn language|Rusyn]] alphabets and as ''er golyam'' (ер голям, "big er") in the [[Bulgarian alphabet]]. The letter is called '''back yer''' in the [[Reforms of Russian orthography|pre-reform Russian orthography]], in [[Old Russian language|Old Russian]], and in [[Old Church Slavonic]]. Originally the yer denoted an ultra-short or [[reduced vowel|reduced]] middle [[rounded vowel]]. Its companion is the '''front yer''', now known as the [[Soft sign|''soft sign'']] in Russian and as ''er malək'' (ер малък, "small er") in Bulgarian (Ь, ь), which was originally also a reduced vowel, more frontal than the ъ, and which is today used to mark the [[palatalization]] of consonants in all of the Slavic languages written in the [[Cyrillic alphabet]], except for [[Serbian language|Serbian]] and [[Macedonian language|Macedonian]], where it is not used although its traces can be seen in the letters њ and љ. The two reduced vowels together are called the '''yers''' in Slavic philology. ==Original use== In the [[Old Church Slavonic language]], the yer was a vowel letter, indicating the so-called "reduced vowel": ъ = {{IPA|*[ŭ]}}, ь = {{IPA|*[ĭ]}} in the conventional transcription. These vowels stemmed from the [[Proto-Balto-Slavic]] short {{IPA|*/u/}} and {{IPA|*/i/}} (compare [[Latin]] ''[[:wikt:angulus|angulus]]'' and Old Church Slavonic {{Unicode|[[:wikt:ѫгълъ|ǫgъlъ]]}}. In all [[West Slavic languages]] the yer either disappeared or was transformed into {{IPA|/e/}} in strong positions, and in [[South Slavic languages]] strong yer reflexes differ widely across dialects. ===Old Russian: Yer=== In [[Old East Slavic]] (Old Russian) and [[Middle Russian]], the yers were dropped entirely in "weak" positions, and were replaced by non-reduced vowels in "strong" positions. Modern Russian inflection is therefore at times complicated by the so-called "transitive" (lit. беглые {{IPA|[ˈbʲeɡlɨjə]}} "fugitive" or "fleeting") vowels, which appear and disappear in place of a former ''yer''. For example: *OR сънъ {{IPA|/ˈsŭ.nŭ/}} → R сон {{IPA|[son]}} "sleep" (nom. sg.) *OR съна {{IPA|/sŭˈna/}} → R сна {{IPA|[sna]}} "sleep" (gen. sg.) *OR угълъ {{IPA|/ˈu.ɡŭ.lŭ/}} → R угол {{IPA|[ˈu.ɡəl]}} "corner" (nom. sg.) *OR угъла {{IPA|/u.ɡŭˈla/}} → R угла {{IPA|[ʊˈɡla]}} "corner" (gen. sg.) The basic rule governing the fall of the yers in Russian may be stated as follows: *'''Strong''' yers are ''fully voiced'': ь → е (or ë); ъ → о *'''Limp''' yers drop entirely, except that the palatalization from a following ь generally remains. *For determining whether a yer is strong or limp, it is necessary to break the continuous flow of speech into individual words, or very common phrases (typically prepositional) which are entirely run together in speech. The rule for determining which yers are limp and which are strong is known as [[Havlík's law]]. **A '''terminal''' yer is ''limp''. **A yer which is followed in the next syllable by a non-reduced vowel is ''limp''. **The yer in the syllable before one with a weak yer is ''strong''. **The yer in the syllable before one with a strong yer is ''limp''. Simply put, in a string of Old Russian syllables each of which has a reduced vowel, the reduced vowels are in modern Russian alternately given full voicing and drop, and the last yer in this sequence will drop. There are some exceptions to this rule, usually considered to be the result of analogy with other words or other inflected forms of the same word, with a different original pattern of reduced vowels. The actual pronunciation of the terminal yer died out between the 15th and the 19th centuries (''человѣкъ'' was pronounced as if written ''человек''). The entry "Ъ" in [[Vladimir Dahl]]'s [[Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language|dictionary (1863–1868)]] says:
Just as we gradually threw out the [limp] yer from the middle of the words, it could be thrown out from the ends, and left only in front of consonants in the middle, where it is needed for pronunciation.
The final yer was finally abolished by the [[Reforms of Russian orthography|spelling reform of 1918]] which has been proposed before the [[October Revolution]]. To encourage stubborn printing houses in Petrograd to apply the new rules, [[Soviet Navy|red sailors]] of the [[Baltic Fleet]] confiscated type carrying the “letter parasite”. Printers were forced to use a non-standard [[apostrophe]] for the separating hard sign, for example: *pre-reform: съѣздъ *transitional: с’езд *post-reform: съезд In the beginning of 1920s the hard sign was gradually restored as the separator. The apostrophe was still used afterward on some [[typewriter]]s which did not include the hard sign, which became the rarest letter in Russian. According to the rough estimation presented in Lev Uspensky's [[popular science|popular]] linguistics book ''A Word On Words (Слово о словах)'', which expresses strong support to the reform, the final hard sign occupied about 3.5% of the printed texts and essentially wasted a considerable amount of paper, which provided the economic grounds to the reform. Printing houses set up by the emigrants from Russia kept using the pre-reform orthography for some time, however gradually they adopted the new spelling. Meanwhile, in the [[USSR]] the ''[[Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language|Dahl’s Explanatory Dictionary]]'' was repeatedly (1935, 1955) reprinted in compliance with the [[Reforms of Russian orthography|old rules of spelling]] and alphabet. Today the final ''yer'' is sometimes used in Russian [[brand]] names – for example, [[Kommersant]] Коммерсантъ. Such usage is often inconsistent, as the [[copywriter]]s may apply the simple rule of putting the hard sign after a consonant at the end of a word, but ignore the other outdated spelling rules. It is also sometimes encountered in humorous personal writing. ===Modern Russian: Hard sign=== In modern Russian the letter "ъ" is called the ''hard sign'' (твёрдый знак ''tvjordyj znak''). It has no phonetic value of its own, and is purely an orthographic device. Its function is to separate a number of prefixes ending in a consonant from a following morpheme that begins with an [[iotation|iotated]] vowel. It is therefore commonly seen in front of the letters "я", "ё", "е", and "ю" (''ja'', ''jo'', ''jè'', and ''ju'' in Russian). The hard sign marks the fact that the sound {{IPA|[j]}} continues to be heard in the composition. Example: *съёмка ({{IPA|[ˈsjomkə]}}): "filming" *Сёмка ({{IPA|[ˈsʲomkə]}}): diminutive form of the male name Семён (Simon) It therefore functions as a kind of "separation sign" and has been used only sparingly in the aforementioned cases since the spelling reform of 1918. The consonant before the hard sign often becomes somewhat softened ([[palatalization|palatalized]]) due to the following iotation. As a result, in the twentieth century there were occasional proposals to eliminate the hard sign altogether, and replace it with the soft sign ь, which always marks the softening of a consonant. However, in part because the degree of softening before ъ is not uniform, these proposals were never implemented. The hard sign ъ is written after both native and borrowed prefixes. In recent years, it has sometimes been seen in borrowed words before the letter и, to mark a greater separation of the constituent syllables. Such written usage has not yet been formally codified (See also [[Russian phonology]] and [[Russian orthography]]). ==Bulgarian language== In [[Bulgarian language|Bulgarian]], the ''er golyam'' ( "ер голям" ) is used for the phoneme representing the [[mid back unrounded vowel]] (IPA {{IPA|/ɤ̞/}}), sometimes also notated as a [[schwa]] ({{IPA|/ə/}}). It sounds approximately like the 'u' in s'''u'''pply {{IPA|[səˈplaɪ]}}. ==Belarusian language== The letter is absent in the alphabets of [[Belarusian language|Belarusian]]. In the Cyrillic Belarusian alphabet its functions are performed by the [[apostrophe (mark)|apostrophe]] or й. In the Latin Belarusian alphabet ([[Lacinka alphabet|Łacinka]]), functions of soft and hard signs are performed by j. ==Ukrainian language== In [[Ukrainian language|Ukrainian]], the hard sign is not used. Its purpose (non-[[palatalization]] of a [[consonant]] preceding the {{IPA|[j]}}) is served by an [[apostrophe (mark)|apostrophe]]. ==Ossetian language== In [[Ossetian language|Ossetian]], the hard sign has no phonetic value of its own, but is part of the digraphs гъ, къ, пъ, тъ, хъ, цъ, чъ. ==Related letters and other similar characters== *Ь ь : [[Ь|Cyrillic letter Soft sign]] : [[Ҍ|Cyrillic letter Semisoft sign]] : [[Ƅ|Latin letter Tone 6]] ==Computing codes== {| class=wikitable style=text-align:right |- align=center | align=right | '''character''' || colspan=2 | Ъ || colspan=2 | ъ |- align=center | align=right | '''Unicode name''' || colspan=2 | CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
|- | align=left | '''character encoding''' || decimal || hex || decimal || hex |- | align=left | [[Unicode]] || 1066 || 042A || 1098 || 044A |- | align=left | [[UTF-8]] || 208 170 || D0 AA || 209 138 || D1 8A |- | align=left | [[Numeric character reference]] || Ъ || Ъ || ъ || ъ |- | align=left | [[KOI8-R]] and [[KOI8-U]] || 255 || FF || 223 || DF |- | align=left | [[Code page 855]] || 159 || 9F || 158 || 9E |- | align=left | [[Code page 866]] || 154 || 9A || 234 || EA |- | align=left | [[Windows-1251]] || 218 || DA || 250 || FA |- | align=left | [[Macintosh Cyrillic encoding|Macintosh Cyrillic]] || 154 || 9A || 250 || FA |}