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Cyrillic letter short U
Cyrillic letter short U - uppercase and lowercase.svg
Phonetic usage:[w]
The Cyrillic script
Slavic letters
Non-Slavic letters
Archaic letters

Short U (Ў ў; italics: Ў ў) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. The only Slavic language using this letter in its orthography is Belarusian, though it is used as a phonetic symbol in some Russian and Ukrainian dictionaries.[1] Among the non-Slavic languages using Cyrillic alphabets, ў is used in Dungan, Karakalpak, Karachay-Balkar, Mansi, Sakhalin Nivkh, Ossetian and Siberian Yupik. It is also used in Uzbek – this letter corresponds to in the Uzbek Latin alphabet.

Short U

The letter originates from the letter izhitsa ⟨Ѵ ѵ⟩ with a breve (Іереѵ̆ская власть, пучина Егеѵ̆ская, etc.) used in certain Ukrainian books at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries.[citation needed] Later, this character was probably in use in the Romanian Cyrillic script, from where it was borrowed in 1837 by the compilers of Ukrainian poetry book Rusalka Dnistrovaja (Русалка днѣстровая). The book's foreword reads “we have accepted Serbian џ … and Wallachian [Romanian] ў …”.[2] In this book, ⟨ў⟩ is used mostly for etymological [l] transformed to [w]. Modern Ukrainian spelling uses ⟨в⟩ ([v]) in that position.

For Belarusian, the combination of the Cyrillic letter U with a breve ⟨ў⟩ was proposed by P.A. Bessonov in 1870.[3] Before that, various ad hoc adaptations of the Latin U were used, for example, italicized in some publications of Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich, with acute accent ⟨ú⟩ in Jan Czeczot's Da milykh mužyczkoú (To dear peasants, 1846 edition), W with breve ⟨w̆⟩ in Epimakh-Shypila, 1889, or just the letter ⟨u⟩ itself (like in publications of Konstanty Kalinowski, 1862–1863). A U with haček ⟨ǔ⟩ was also used.[4]

After 1870, both the distinction for the phoneme and the new shape of the letter still were not consistently used until the mid-1900s for technical problems, per Bulyka. Among the first publications using it were folklore collections published by Michał Federowski and the first edition of Francišak Bahuševič's Dudka Biełaruskaja (Belarusian flute, published in Kraków, 1891).[4] For quite a while other kinds of renderings (plain ⟨u⟩, or with added accent, haček, or caret) were still being used, sometimes within a single publication (Bahushevich, 1891, Pachobka, 1915), also supposedly because of technical problems.[citation needed]



The letter is called non-syllabic u or short u (Belarusian: у нескладовае, u nieskładovaje[5] or у кароткае, u karotkaje) in Belarusian because although it resembles the vowel у (u), it does not form syllables.[6] Its equivalent in the Belarusian Latin alphabet is ⟨ŭ⟩,[7] although it is also sometimes transcribed as ⟨w⟩.[8]

In native Belarusian words, ⟨ў⟩ is used after vowels and represents a [w],[9] as in хлеў, pronounced [xlʲew] (chleŭ, ‘shed’) or воўк [vɔwk] (voŭk, ‘wolf’). This is similar to the ⟨w⟩ in English cow /kaʊ/.

The letter ⟨ў⟩ cannot occur before a non-iotified vowel in native words (except compound words such as паўакна, ‘half a window’); when that would be required by grammar, ⟨ў⟩ is replaced by ⟨в⟩ /v/. Compare хлеў ([xlʲew] chleŭ, ‘shed’) with за хлявом ([za xlʲaˈvom] za chlavóm, ‘behind the shed’). Also, when a word starts with an unstressed ⟨у⟩ /u/ and follows a word that ends in a vowel, it forms a diphthong through liaison and it is written with ⟨ў⟩ instead. For example, у хляве ([u xlʲaˈvʲe] u chlavié, ‘in the shed’) but увайшлі яны ў хлеў ([uvajʂˈlʲi jaˈnɨ w xlʲew] uvajšlí janý ŭ chleŭ, ‘they went into the shed’).[5][10] According to the current official orthographic rules of 2008,[11] proper names conserve the initial ⟨У⟩ in writing, so the capital letter ⟨Ў⟩ can occur only in all-capitals writing. Previous official orthographic rules (1959) also made exception for loanwords (каля універсітэта, ‘near the university’, now spelled каля ўніверсітэта).[12] The unofficial 2005 standardization of Taraškievica allows the capital ⟨Ў⟩ in proper names.[5] In acronyms/initialisms, the word-initial ⟨ў⟩ becomes ⟨У⟩: ВНУ for вышэйшая навучальная ўстанова ‘higher education institution (university, college, institute)’.[5][11][12] Also, ⟨Ў⟩ becomes ⟨У⟩ in name initials in Taraškievica.[5]

The letter ⟨ў⟩ is also sometimes used to represent the labial-velar approximant /w/ in foreign loanwords: this usage is allowed by the 2005 standardization of Taraškievica. When it is used thus it can appear before non-iotified vowels, does not require a preceding vowel, and may be capital.[5]

In poetry, word-initial ⟨у⟩ and ⟨ў⟩ are sometimes used according to the rhythm of a poem. In this case, the capital ⟨Ў⟩ may also occur.[12]


This letter is the 32nd letter of the Uzbek Cyrillic alphabet. It corresponds to in the current Uzbek alphabet. It is different from the regular O, which is represented by the Cyrillic letter О. Furthermore, it is pronounced as either [o] or [ø], in contrast to the letter O, which is pronounced as [ɒ].[13]

In culture

In September 2003, during the tenth Days of Belarusian Literacy celebrations, the authorities in Polatsk, the oldest Belarusian city, made a monument to honor the unique Cyrillic Belarusian letter ⟨ў⟩. The original idea for the monument came from professor Paval Siemčanka, a scholar of Cyrillic calligraphy and type.[14]

In October 2009, the Ў gallery is opened in Minsk, which is named after this letter. However it was closed in October 2020.

Computing codes

Character information
Preview Ў ў
Encodings decimal hex dec hex
Unicode 1038 U+040E 1118 U+045E
UTF-8 208 142 D0 8E 209 158 D1 9E
Numeric character reference Ў Ў ў ў
Named character reference Ў ў
Code page 855 153 99 152 98
Code page 866 246 F6 247 F7
Windows-1251 161 A1 162 A2
ISO-8859-5 174 AE 254 FE
Macintosh Cyrillic[15] 216 D8 217 D9

See also


  1. ^ Большой орфоэпический словарь русского языка (2018)
  2. ^ “...приймилисмо сербскоє џ (виџу wydzu) и волоскоє ў (аў, ɑʋ Erazm. Rotterd., 𝖆𝖚, еў, ɛʋ: спѣваў, spiwɑʋ; душеў, duʃɛʋ)...”. Markiyan Shashkevych (1837), Rusalka Dnistrovaya (Mermaid of the Dniester), p V.
  3. ^ Булыка (Bulyka). У нескладовае // Энцыклапедыя літаратуры і мастацтва Беларусі. Т.4. p.377.
  4. ^ a b Per (Bulyka).
  5. ^ a b c d e f *Bušlakoŭ, Juraś, Vincuk Viačorka, Źmicier Sańko, Źmicier Saŭka. 2005. Klasyčny pravapis. Zbor praviłaŭ: Sučasnaja narmalizacyja [Classical orthography. Set of rules: Contemporary normalization]. (PDF.) Vilnia—Miensk: Audra.
  6. ^ "Зычныя літары". Праект “Правільна!" (Project Pravilna). Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  7. ^ Б. Тарашкевіч. Беларуская граматыка для школ. – Вільня : Беларуская друкарня ім. Фр. Скарыны, 1929 ; Мн. : «Народная асвета», 1991 [факсімільн.]. – Выданьне пятае пераробленае і пашыранае.
  8. ^ "Romanization Systems Currently Approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN)". National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  9. ^ E.g., per Беларуская мова: Вучэб. дапам. / Э. Д. Блінава, Н. В. Гаўрош, М. Ц. Кавалёва і інш.; Пад рэд. М. С. Яўневіча. — Мн. : Выш. школа, 1991. ISBN 5-339-00539-9.
  10. ^ "Chapter 1: Spelling Rules".
  11. ^ a b "Правілы беларускай арфаграфіі і пунктуацыі. Мінск, 2008".
  12. ^ a b c Правілы беларускай арфаграфіі і пунктуацыі. Выдавецтва Акадэміі Наук БССР, Мінск, 1959.
  13. ^ "Transliteration of Non-Roman Scripts: Uzbek" (PDF). Institute of the Estonian Language. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Памятник букве «Ў» в Полоцке". (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-02-03.