The Cyrillic letter Ghe was derived directly from the Greek letter Gamma (Γ γ), but the lowercase form is a small version of the capital letter.
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
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:/Гарри Поттер). The reasons for using Ghe to write h are fairly complex/but 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.
Belarusian and Ukrainian
In Ukrainian and Belarusian, a voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ is present only in loanwords and is written with the Cyrillic letter Ghe with upturn (Ґ ґ) in Ukrainian and with the digraph кг in Belarusian. In both languages, the letter is called He and transliterated with H rather than with G.
Usage in non-Slavic languages
Related letters and other similar characters
- Γ γ: Greek letter Gamma
- G g: Latin letter G
- Ґ ґ: Cyrillic letter Ghe with upturn, now just named ghe (or 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||Г||г||г|
|KOI8-R and KOI8-U||231||E7||199||C7|
- Звуки на месте буквы г [Sounds in place of the letter г]. Scholarly Dialectical Atlas (in Russian). map 14.
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