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Cyrillics, was: Re: Russian orthography (was: ...

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Friday, February 4, 2000, 18:21
On Mon, 31 Jan 2000 11:48:07 -0500, John Cowan <jcowan@...>

>Odd historical note: Why does U look like Latin "Y", but YU like >Latin "IO" with a ligature between? Peter the Great. Originally >the sound /u/ was written OY, as in mediaeval and modern Greek >(omicron upsilon), and /ju/ was the same with an I ligatured >in front: I-OY. When Peter reformed the alphabet, he shortened >I-OY to just I-O, and OY to just Y.
A belated minor correction: The ligature I-O (without ypsilon) was used long before Peter I. Actually, I don't remember if I-OY has ever been in use; it *is* mentioned in the literature, but only hypothetically (AFAIK). There are more such ligatures. Modern 'JA' is originally I-A; in early Slavonic manuscripts, there are also I-E, I-E~ (with 'small YUS'), and I-O~ (with 'big YUS'). BTW, 'YERU' - Oh... :( - is a ligature 'hard sign' + iota (not 'soft sign', as it may seem because of its modern shape). Simply 'Y' instead of 'OY' also has a long tradition of use (BTW, reflected in the popular Russian forms of some names, e. g. _Lukerya_ for _Glykeria_). It seems that Peter picked up what was already in use, selecting such forms that resembled the Roman letters most. Basilius