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Ge, ghe, or he (Г г; italics: Г г) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It represents the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/, like ⟨g⟩ in "gift", or the voiced glottal fricative [ɦ], like ⟨h⟩ in "heft". It is generally romanized using the Latin letter g or h, depending on the source language.
The Cyrillic letter ge was derived directly from the Greek letter Gamma (Γ) in uncial script.
In the Early Cyrillic alphabet, its name was глаголи (glagoli), meaning "speak".
In the Cyrillic numeral system, it had a numerical value of 3.
Usage in Slavic languages
Belarusian, Rusyn, and Ukrainian
From these three languages, the letter is romanized with h. Its name is he in Belarusian and Ukrainian, and hy in Rusyn.
In Belarusian (like in Southern Russian), the letter corresponds to the velar fricative /ɣ/ and its soft counterpart /ɣʲ/.
In Ukrainian and Rusyn, it represents a voiced glottal fricative [ɦ], a breathy voiced counterpart of the English [h].
In Ukrainian and Rusyn, a voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ is written with the Cyrillic letter ghe with upturn (Ґ ґ). In Belarusian, the official orthography uses г for both /ɣ/ and /ɡ/ (which is rare), although in Taraškievica ghe with upturn is optionally used for /ɡ/. Ґ is transliterated with G.
In all three languages' historical ancestor Ruthenian, the sound /ɡ/ was also represented by the digraph кг.
In standard Russian, ghe represents the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ but is devoiced to [k] word-finally or before a voiceless consonant. It represents /ɡʲ/ before a palatalizing vowel. In the Southern Russian dialect, the sound becomes the velar fricative /ɣ/. Sometimes, the sound is the glottal fricative /ɦ/ in the regions bordering Belarus and Ukraine.
It is acceptable, for some people, to pronounce certain Russian words with [ɣ] (sometimes referred to as Ukrainian Ge): Бог, богатый, благо, Господь (Bog, bogatyj, blago, Gospod’). The sound is normally considered nonstandard or dialectal in Russian and is avoided by educated Russian speakers. Бог (Bog, "God") is always pronounced [box] in the nominative case.
In the Russian nominal genitive ending -ого, -его, ghe represents [v], including in the word сегодня ("today", from сего дня).
It represents a voiceless [x] (not [k]) in front of ka in two Russian words, namely, мягкий and лёгкий, and their derivatives.
The Latin letter h of words of Latin, Greek, English or German origin is usually transliterated into Russian with ghe rather than kha: hero → герой, hamburger → гамбургер, Haydn → Гайдн. That can occasionally cause ambiguity, as for example English Harry and Gary/Garry would be spelled the same in Russian, eg. Гарри Поттер). The reasons for using ghe to write h include the fact that ghe is used for h in Ukrainian, Belarusian and some Russian dialects, along with the perception that kha sounds too harsh. Nevertheless, in newer loanwords (especially from English), kha is often used.
In standard Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Bulgarian and Macedonian the letter ghe represents a voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ but is devoiced to [k] word-finally or before a voiceless consonant.
Usage in non-Slavic languages
In many non-Slavic languages it can represent both /ɡ/ and /ʁ~ɣ/ (the latter mostly in Turkic and some Finno-Ugric languages).
In Ossetian, an Indo-Iranian language spoken in the Caucasus, ⟨г⟩ represents the voiced velar stop /ɡ/. However, the digraph ⟨гъ⟩ represents the voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/.
Related letters and other similar characters
- Γ γ: Greek letter Gamma
- G g: Latin letter G
- H h: Latin letter H, romanized as in Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Rusyn
- Z z: Latin letter Z, alternative form of italicized Cyrillic Г (ge)
- Ґ ґ: Cyrillic letter ghe with upturn, the letter g, named ge in Ukrainian
- Ѓ ѓ: Cyrillic letter Gje
- Ғ ғ: Cyrillic letter Ghayn
- ₴: Ukrainian hryvnia (Currency sign)
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER GHE||CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER GHE|
|UTF-8||208 147||D0 93||208 179||D0 B3|
|Numeric character reference||Г
|Named character reference||Г||г|
|KOI8-R and KOI8-U||231||E7||199||C7|
- ^ a b c Звуки на месте буквы г [Sounds in place of the letter г]. Scholarly Dialectical Atlas (in Russian). map 14.