Little yus (Ѧ ѧ) and big yus (Ѫ ѫ), or jus, are letters of the Cyrillic script[2] representing two Common Slavonic nasal vowels in the early Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets. Each can occur in iotified form (Ѩ ѩ, Ѭ ѭ), formed as ligatures with the decimal i (І). Other yus letters are blended yus (Ꙛ ꙛ), closed little yus (Ꙙ ꙙ) and iotified closed little yus (Ꙝ ꙝ).

Image
Cyrillic little yus (left) and big yus (right); normal forms (above) and iotified (below)

Phonetically, little yus represents a nasalized front vowel, possibly [ɛ̃], while big yus represents a nasalized back vowel, such as IPA [ɔ̃]. This is also suggested by the appearance of each as a 'stacked' digraph of 'Am' and 'om' respectively.

The names of the letters do not imply capitalization, as both little and big yus exist in majuscule and minuscule variants.

Disappearance

All modern Slavic languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet have lost the nasal vowels (at least in their standard varieties), making Yus unnecessary.

In Bulgarian and Macedonian

Big Yus was a part of the Bulgarian alphabet until 1945. However, by then, in the eastern dialects, the back nasal was pronounced the same way as ъ [ɤ]. Because the language is based mainly on them, the western pronunciations were deemed unliterary, and the letter was gone.

There are some Bulgarian and Macedonian dialects spoken around Thessaloniki and Kastoria in northern Greece that still preserve a nasal pronunciation: [ˈkɤ̃de ˈɡrẽdeʃ ˈmilo ˈt͡ʃẽdo] ('Къде гредеш, мило чедо?'; 'Where are you going, dear child?').

On a visit to Razlog, in Bulgaria's Pirin Macedonia, in 1955, the Russian dialectologist Samuil Bernstein noticed that the nasal pronunciation of words like [ˈrɤ̃ka] (hand), [ˈt͡ʃẽdo] (child) could still be heard from some of the older women of the village. To the younger people, the pronunciation was completely alien; they would think that the old ladies were speaking Modern Greek.[3]

In Russian

In Russia, the little Yus was adapted to represent the iotated /ja/ (я) in the middle or at the end of a word; the modern letter я is an adaptation of its cursive form of the 17th century, enshrined by the typographical reform of 1708. (That is also why я in Russian often corresponds to nasalized ę in Polish; cf. Russian пять; Polish pięć.)

In Polish

In Polish, which is a Slavic language written in the Latin alphabet, the letter Ę ę has the phonetic value of little Yus, and Ą ą has that of big Yus. The iotated forms are written ię, ią, ję, ją in Polish. However, the phonemes written ę and ą are not directly descended from those represented by little and big yus but developed after the original nasals merged in Polish and then diverged again. (Kashubian, the closest language to Polish, uses the letter ã instead of ę.)

In Romanian

Little and big yuses can also be found in the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet, used until about 1860. Little Yus was used for /ja/, and big Yus for /ɨ/. Now Romanian uses the Latin alphabet and the current form is Îî.

Computing codes

CharacterѦѧѨѩ
Unicode nameCYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
IOTIFIED LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
IOTIFIED LITTLE YUS
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode1126U+04661127U+04671128U+04681129U+0469
UTF-8209 166D1 A6209 167D1 A7209 168D1 A8209 169D1 A9
Numeric character referenceѦѦѧѧѨѨѩѩ
CharacterѪѫѬѭ
Unicode nameCYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
BIG YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
BIG YUS
CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
IOTIFIED BIG YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
IOTIFIED BIG YUS
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode1130U+046A1131U+046B1132U+046C1133U+046D
UTF-8209 170D1 AA209 171D1 AB209 172D1 AC209 173D1 AD
Numeric character referenceѪѪѫѫѬѬѭѭ
Character
Unicode nameCYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
BLENDED YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
BLENDED YUS
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode42586U+A65A42587U+A65B
UTF-8234 153 154EA 99 9A234 153 155EA 99 9B
Numeric character referenceꙚꙚꙛꙛ
Character
Unicode nameCYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
CLOSED LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
CLOSED LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
IOTIFIED CLOSED LITTLE YUS
CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER
IOTIFIED CLOSED LITTLE YUS
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode42584U+A65842585U+A65942588U+A65C42589U+A65D
UTF-8234 153 152EA 99 98234 153 153EA 99 99234 153 156EA 99 9C234 153 157EA 99 9D
Numeric character referenceꙘꙘꙙꙙꙜꙜꙝꙝ