Izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ; OCS Ѵжица, Russian: И́жица) is a letter of the early Cyrillic alphabet and several later alphabets, usually the last in the row. It originates from the Greek letter upsilon (Y, υ) and was used in words and names derived from or via the Greek language, such as кѵрилъ (kürilǔ, "Cyril") or флаѵии (flavii, "Flavius"). It represented the sounds /i/ or /v/ as normal letters и and в, respectively. The Glagolitic alphabet has a corresponding letter with the name izhitsa as well (Ⱛ, ⱛ). Also, izhitsa in its standard form or, most often, in a tailed variant (similar to Latin "y") was a part of a digraph оѵ/оу representing sound /u/. The digraph is known as Cyrillic "uk", and today's Cyrillic letter u originates from its simplified form.
The letter's traditional name, izhitsa (ижица), is explained as a diminutive either of the word иго (igo, "yoke"), due to the letter's shape, or of иже (izhe, "which"), the name of the main Cyrillic and Glagolitic letters for the same sound, /i/.
The numeral value of Cyrillic izhitsa is 400. Glagolitic izhitsa has no numeral value. Church Slavonic editions printed in Russia use a tailed variant of the letter for the numeral purpose, whereas editions from Serbia or Romania (including books in the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet), as well as early printed books from Ukraine, prefer a basic form of the letter without the tail.
In the Russian language, the use of izhitsa became progressively rarer during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there was only one word with relatively stable spelling that included the letter izhitsa: мѵро (müro, "myrrh") and its derivatives. The orthographic reforms of 1917–1918 do not mention the letter at all, and so the letter died out without any formal act.
The traditional spelling of Serbian was more conservative; it preserved all etymologically motivated izhitsas in words of Greek origin. Vuk Stefanović Karadžić had reformed the Serbian alphabet in the beginning of the nineteenth century and eliminated the letter, but the old spelling was used in some places as late as the 1880s.
(New) Church Slavonic
Izhitsa is still in use in the Church Slavonic language. Like Greek upsilon, it can be pronounced as /i/ (like и), or as /v/ (like в). The basic distinction rule is simple: izhitsa with stress and/or aspiration marks is a vowel and therefore pronounced /i/; izhitsa without diacritical marks is a consonant and pronounced /v/. Unstressed, /i/-sounding izhitsas are marked with a special diacritical mark, the so-called kendema or kendima (from the Greek word κέντημα [ˈkʲɛndima]). The shape of kendema over izhitsa may vary: in books of Russian origin, it typically looks like a double grave accent or sometimes like a double acute accent. In older Serbian books, kendema most often looked like two dots (trema) or might even be replaced by a surrogate combination of aspiration and acute. These shape distinctions (with the exception of the aspiration-acute combination) have no orthographical meaning and must be considered as just font style variations, thus the Unicode name "IZHITSA WITH DOUBLE GRAVE" is slightly misleading. Izhitsa with kendema (majuscule: Ѷ, minuscule: ѷ) is not a separate letter of the alphabet, but it may have personal position in computer encodings (e.g., Unicode). Historically, izhitsa with kendema corresponds to the Greek upsilon with trema (or διαλυτικά: Ϋ, ϋ). While in modern editions of ancient and modern Greek the trema is used only to prevent a digraph (as <ευ> [εv/εf] versus <εϋ> [εi]), Slavonic usage of kendema still continues that of many medieval Greek manuscripts, in which the "diaeresis" sign was often used simply to mark an upsilon or iota as such, irrespective of any other vowels (e.g. δϊαλϋτϊκά, which would not be correct by today's conventions).
Traditional orthography of the Romanian language used izhitsa in the same manner as Church Slavonic, with all the above-mentioned peculiarities. This writing system was used until about 1860 in Romania and until the 1910s in church books in Moldova.
The Cyrillic letter izhitsa was also used historically in certain loanwords in the Cyrillic script version of Aleut.
Izhitsa as a replacement of a different character
In Russian typography, the capital form of izhitsa has traditionally been used instead of the Roman numeral V; this tradition survived several decades longer than izhitsa as a letter of the alphabet.
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER IZHITSA||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER IZHITSA|| CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER|
IZHITSA WITH DOUBLE GRAVE ACCENT
| CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER|
IZHITSA WITH DOUBLE GRAVE ACCENT
|UTF-8||209 180||D1 B4||209 181||D1 B5||209 182||D1 B6||209 183||D1 B7|
|Numeric character reference||Ѵ||Ѵ||ѵ||ѵ||Ѷ||Ѷ||ѷ||ѷ|
- "Cyrillic – Unicode 6.2" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- A Berdnikov and O Lapko, "Old Slavonic and Church Slavonic in TEX and Unicode", EuroTEX ’99 Proceedings, September 1999 (PDF)
- F Lauritzen, Michael the Grammarian's irony about hypsilon: a step towards reconstructing Byzantine pronunciation, Byzantinoslavica 67 (2009) 231–240