This article is about the Latin-derived letter. For the vowel represented by ə in IPA, see Mid central vowel. For the Cyrillic letter, see Schwa (Cyrillic).
Ə ə
Ə ə

Ə ə, also called schwa, is an additional letter of the Latin alphabet, used in the Azerbaijani language and in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ dialect of Halkomelem. Both the majuscule and minuscule forms of this letter are based on the form of an upside down e, while the Pan-Nigerian alphabet pairs the same lowercase letter with Ǝ.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), minuscule ə is used to represent the mid central vowel or a schwa. A superscript minuscule is used to modify the preceding consonant to have a mid central vowel release.

The letter was used in the Uniform Turkic Alphabet, for example in Janalif for the Tatar language in the 1920s–1930s. In the Latin Azerbaijani and Chechen alphabets, Ə represents the near-open front unrounded vowel, /æ/. Also, in a romanization of Pashto, the letter Ə is used to represent [ə]. When some roman orthographies in the Soviet Union were converted to use the Cyrillic script in the 1930s and 1940s, this letter has been adopted verbatim.

In the Latin transliteration of Avestan, the corresponding long vowel is written as schwa-macron, Ə̄̄.

Unicode encodings

Character Ə ə
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 399 U+018F 601 U+0259 7498 U+1D4A 8340 U+2094
UTF-8 198 143 C6 8F 201 153 C9 99 225 181 138 E1 B5 8A 226 130 148 E2 82 94
Numeric character reference Ə Ə ə ə ᵊ ᵊ ₔ ₔ

Since the legacy fixed 8-bit ISO/IEC Turkish encoding does neither contain Ə nor ə, Ä ä has sometimes been used for the Azerbaijani language instead, as in the Tatar and Turkmen languages.

In Windows, the characters can be generated by holding the ⎇ Alt key and pressing the respective decimal Unicode number, which can be found in the table (e.g. 399, 601), on the number pad preceded by a leading 0. With the GNOME desktop environment, the lowercase letter is by default generated by Compose+e+e. In OS X with the U.S. Extended keyboard, the letters Ə ə are made with ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift+: followed by ⇧ Shift+A or a respectively.


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