Ȝ ȝ
(See below, Typographic)
Writing cursive forms of Ȝ
Writing systemLatin script
Language of originMiddle English language
Latin language
Phonetic usage[g]
Pictogram of a Camel (speculated origin)
Time period~1150 to ~1500


Գ գ
Transliteration equivalentsch, g, gh, j, ng, y
Variations(See below, Typographic)
Other letters commonly used withch, gh, g, j, ng y, z
Writing directionLeft-to-Right
This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The letter yogh (ȝogh) (Ȝ ȝ; Scots: yoch; Middle English: ȝogh) was used in Middle English and Older Scots, representing y (/j/) and various velar phonemes. It was derived from the Insular form of the letter g, Ᵹᵹ.

In Middle English writing, tailed z came to be indistinguishable from yogh.

In Middle Scots, the character yogh became confused with a cursive z and the early Scots printers often used z when yogh was not available in their fonts.[1] Consequently, some Modern Scots words have a z in place of a yogh—the common surname Menzies was originally written Menȝies (pronounced mingis).

Yogh is shaped similarly to the Cyrillic letter З and the Arabic numeral 3, which are sometimes substituted for the character in online reference works. There is some confusion about the letter in the literature, as the English language was far from standardised at the time. Capital Ȝ is represented in Unicode by code point U+021C Ȝ LATIN CAPITAL LETTER YOGH, and lower case ȝ by code point U+021D ȝ LATIN SMALL LETTER YOGH.


Capital yogh (left), lowercase yogh (right)

In Modern English yogh is pronounced /jɒɡ/, /jɒx/ using short o[2] or /jɡ/, /jk/, /jx/, using long o.[3]

It stood for /ɡ/ and its various allophones—including [ɡ] and the voiced velar fricative [ɣ]—as well as the phoneme /j/ (⟨y⟩ in modern English orthography). In Middle English, it also stood for the phoneme /x/ and its allophone [ç] as in niȝt ("night", in an early Middle English way still often pronounced as spelled so: [niçt]), and also represented the phonemes /j/ and /dʒ/. Sometimes, yogh stood for /j/ or /w/, as in the word ȝoȝelinge [ˈjowəlɪŋɡə], "yowling".

In Middle Scots, it represented the sound /j/ in the clusters /lj/, /ŋj/ and /nj/ written lȝ and nȝ.[4] Yogh was generally used for /j/ rather than y.

In medieval Cornish manuscripts, yogh was used to represent the voiced dental fricative [ð], as in its ȝoȝo, now written ⟨dhodho⟩, pronounced [ðoðo].


Yogh used for /x/ in Middle English: God spede þe plouȝ: & sende us korne inow. ("God speed the plough: and send us corn enough.")

Old English

Further information: Insular G

The original Germanic g sound was expressed by the gyfu rune in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc (which is itself sometimes rendered as ȝ in modern transliteration). Following palatalization, both gyfu and Latin g in Old English expressed the /j/ sound before front vowels. For example, "year" was written as gear, even though the word had never had a g sound (deriving from Proto-Germanic *jērą).

With the re-introduced possibility of a /ɡ/ sound before front vowels, notably in the form of loanwords from the Old Norse (such as gere from Norse gervi, Modern English gear), this orthographical state of affairs became a source for confusion, and a distinction of "real g" (/ɡ/) from "palatalized g" (/j/) became desirable.

In the Old English period, was simply the way Latin g was written in the Insular script introduced at the Christianisation of England by the Hiberno-Scottish mission. It only came to be used as a letter distinct from g in the Middle English period, where it evolved in appearance into ȝ, now considered a separate character.

Middle English

In the 14th century, the digraph gh arose as an alternative to yogh for /x/, and eventually overtook yogh in popularity; still, the variety of pronunciations persisted, as evidenced by cough, taught, and though.[clarification needed] The process of replacing the yogh with gh was slow, and was not completed until the arrival of printing presses (which lacked yogh) in England around the end of the fifteenth century. Not every English word that contains a gh was originally spelled with a yogh: for example, spaghetti is Italian, where the h makes the g hard (i.e., [ɡ] instead of [dʒ]); ghoul is Arabic, in which the gh was /ɣ/.

The medieval author Orm used this letter in three ways when writing Early Middle English. By itself, it represented /j/, so he used this letter for the y in "yet". Doubled, it represented /i/, so he ended his spelling of "may" with two yoghs. Finally, the digraph of ȝh represented /ɣ/.[5]

In the late Middle English period, yogh was no longer used: niȝt came to be spelled night. Middle English re-imported G in its French form for /ɡ/ (As a further side note, French also used ⟨y⟩ to represent /j/ in words like voyage and yeux).


In words of French and Gaelic origin, the Early Scots palatal consonant /ɲ/ had become /nj/ or in some cases /ŋj/, and the palatal consonant /ʎ/ had become /lj/ by the Middle Scots period.[4] Those were variously written nȝ(h)e, ngȝe, ny(h)e or ny(i)e, and lȝ(h)e, ly(i)e or lyhe (cf. gn and gli in Italian). By the Modern Scots period the yogh had been replaced by the character z, in particular for /ŋj/, /nj/ (nȝ) and /lj/ (lȝ), written nz and lz. The original /hj/ and /çj/ developed into /ʃ(j)/ in some words such as Ȝetland or Zetland for Shetland.[1] Yogh was also used to represent /j/ in words such as ȝe, ȝhistirday (yesterday) and ȝoung but by the Modern Scots period y had replaced yogh.[6] The pronunciation of MacKenzie (and its variant spellings) (from Scottish Gaelic MacCoinnich [maxˈkʰɤɲɪç]), originally pronounced [məˈkɛŋjiː] in Scots,[1] shows where yogh became z. Menzies Campbell is another example.

After the development of printing

In Middle Scots orthography, the use of yogh became confused with a cursive z and the early Scots printers often used z when yogh was not available in their fonts.

The yogh glyph can be found in surnames that start with a Y in Scotland and Ireland; for example the surname Yeoman, which would have been spelled Ȝeman. Sometimes, the yogh would be replaced by the letter z, because the shape of the yogh was identical to some forms of handwritten z.

In Unicode 1.0, the character yogh was mistakenly unified with the quite different character ezh (Ʒ ʒ), and yogh itself was not added to Unicode until version 3.0.

Examples of Middle English words containing a yogh

These are examples of Middle English words that contain the letter yogh in their spellings.[7]

Scots words with ⟨z⟩ for ⟨ȝ⟩



See also:

Miscellaneous nouns

In Egyptology

A Unicode-based transliteration system adopted by the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale[22] suggested the use of the yogh ȝ character as the transliteration of the Ancient Egyptian "aleph" glyph:


The symbol actually used in Egyptology is , two half-rings opening to the left. Since Unicode 5.1, it has been assigned its own codepoints (uppercase U+A722 Ꜣ LATIN CAPITAL LETTER EGYPTOLOGICAL ALEF, lowercase U+A723 ꜣ LATIN SMALL LETTER EGYPTOLOGICAL ALEF); a fallback is the numeral 3.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Z", DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language / Dictionar o the Scots Leid, UK.
  2. ^ "yogh". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.).
  4. ^ a b DOST: A History of Scots to 1700, UK: DSL[permanent dead link].
  5. ^ Crystal, David (2004-09-09). The Stories of English. New York: Overlook Press. p. 197. ISBN 1-58567-601-2.
  6. ^ Kniezsa, V (1997), Jones, C (ed.), The Edinburgh history of the Scots language, Edinburgh University Press, p. 38.
  7. ^ OED online.
  8. ^ "English gilds: the original ordinances of more than one hundred early English gilds", Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse, University of Michigan, 1999, retrieved 2011-06-23
  9. ^ Piers Plowman, Wikisource.
  10. ^ "Dalmunzie Castle Hotel". Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Culmalzie | Canmore". canmore.org.uk.
  12. ^ "Munzie Well | Canmore". canmore.org.uk.
  13. ^ "Pitcalzean | Canmore". canmore.org.uk.
  14. ^ "Corriemulzie Estate - Scottish Highlands Lodge & Cottage - Trout & Salmon Fishing, Red Deer Stalking". corriemulzieestate.com.
  15. ^ Morgan, James (17 October 2011). In Search of Alan Gilzean. BackPage Press. ISBN 9780956497116 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Black, George (1946), The Surnames of Scotland, p. 525.
  17. ^ Hanks, P (2003), Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press.
  18. ^ Eaton, Lucy Allen (1960), Studies in the fairy mythology of Arthurian romance, Burt Franklin, p. vii.
  19. ^ "Scots word of the month". scottishreview.net. Archived from the original on 2021-06-25. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  20. ^ "Dictionaries of the Scots Language". dsl.ac.uk.
  21. ^ "Dictionaries of the Scots Language". dsl.ac.uk.
  22. ^ "Polices de caractères". Institut français d'archéologie orientale – Le Caire (in French). Retrieved 13 September 2014.