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Cyrillic letter Dze
Cyrillic letter Dze - uppercase and lowercase.svg
Phonetic usage:[dz]
Numeric value:6
The Cyrillic script
Slavic letters
Non-Slavic letters
Archaic letters

Dze (? ?) is a letter of the Cyrillic script, used in the Macedonian language to represent the voiced alveolar affricate /dz/, like the pronunciation of ?ds? in "needs". It is derived from the letter dzelo or zelo of the Early Cyrillic alphabet, and it was used historically for Old Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, Russian, and Romanian.

Although fully obsolete everywhere in the Cyrillic world by the 19th century, the letter zelo was revived in 1944 by the designers of the alphabet of the then-codified Macedonian dialect of Serbian. The phoneme is also present in Greek ( ) and Albanian (X x), both non-Balkanic neighbours to the Macedonian language, all are a part of the Balkan linguistic area.[1] In the early 21st century, the same letter also appeared in Vojislav Nik?evi?'s proposal for the new alphabet for the modern Montenegrin language.

The most common early letterform (? ?) resembles the Latin letter S (S s), but it is also seen reversed (? ?) like the Latin letter Reversed S (? ?), or with a tail and a tick (? ?).

Abkhaz has Abkhazian Dze (? ?), with an identical function and name but a different shape.


The letter is descended from ? (pronounced dz?lo; Dz?lo) in the Early Cyrillic alphabet, where it had the numerical value 6. The letter Dz?lo was itself based on the letter Dzelo in the Glagolitic alphabet. In the Glagolitic alphabet, it was written ⟨?⟩, and had the numerical value of 8. In Old Church Slavonic it was called ? (pronounced dzeló), and in Church Slavonic it is called ? (pronounced zeló).

The origin of Glagolitic letter Dzelo is unclear, but the Cyrillic ? may have been influenced by the Greek stigma ⟨?⟩, the medieval form of the archaic letter digamma, which had the same form and numerical value (6). Thus the visual similarity of the Cyrillic ⟨?⟩ and Latin ⟨S⟩ is largely coincidental.


The initial sound of ⟨?⟩ in Old Church Slavonic was a soft /dz/ or /z/, which often corresponds in cognates to a /?/ sound in modern Russian, as in (Russian: ), ? (Russian: ?), and ? (Russian: ?). However, already in the Old Slavic period the difference between ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ began to be blurred, and in the written Church Slavonic language from the middle of the 17th century ⟨?⟩ was used only formally. The letter's distinguishing features from ⟨?⟩ are[2]

The seven root words commencing with the letter dze (aka, dzelo).
  • ⟨?⟩ is used in root derived from these seven words beginning with ⟨?⟩: , , , , ?, ?, ?;
  • ?⟩ is used in all remaining cases.
  • ⟨?⟩ has the numerical value of 6, whereas ⟨?⟩ has the numerical value of 7;

In Russian it was known as ? or zelo [z'?o] and had the phonetic value of /dz/, /z/ or /z?/.

In the initial version of Russian civil script of Tsar Peter I (1708), the ⟨?⟩ was assigned the sound /z/, and the letter ⟨?⟩ was abolished. However, in the second version of the civil script (1710), ⟨?⟩ was restored, and ⟨?⟩ was abolished. Both versions of the alphabet were used until 1735, which is considered the date of the final elimination of ⟨?⟩ in Russian.

See also Reforms of Russian orthography.

⟨?⟩ was used in the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet (where it represented /dz/) until the alphabet was abolished in favor of a Latin-based alphabet in 1860-62. ⟨?⟩ was also used--albeit rarely--to the middle of the 19th century in the Serbian civil script, whose orthography was closer to Church Slavonic (compared to Russian). Vuk Karad?i?'s Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (1868) did not include ⟨?⟩, instead favoring the digraph ⟨⟩ to represent /dz/.

In Ukrainian, the sound /d?z/ is integrated as part of the language's phonology, but it mainly occurs in loanwords rather than in words of native Ukrainian origin. As such, the digraph ⟨⟩ is used to represent both the phoneme /d?z/ and the separately occurring consonant cluster |d.z| which Ukrainian phonotactics assimilate as /d?z.z/.


⟨?⟩ is now only used in the Macedonian alphabet. A commission formed to standardize the Macedonian language and orthography decided to adopt the letter on December 4, 1944, after a vote of 10-1. The letter represents /dz/ (examples including: /dzid, 'wall' and /dzvezda, 'star'). The corresponding sound is used in all dialects of Macedonian.

⟨?⟩ is also included in Microsoft's Serbian Cyrillic keyboard layout, although it is not used in the Serbian Cyrillic Alphabet. The Serbian keyboard in Ubuntu replaces ? with a second ?.

Related letters and other similar characters

Computing codes

Character information
Preview Ѕ ѕ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1029 U+0405 1109 U+0455 42564 U+A644 42565 U+A645 42562 U+A642 42563 U+A643
UTF-8 208 133 D0 85 209 149 D1 95 234 153 132 EA 99 84 234 153 133 EA 99 85 234 153 130 EA 99 82 234 153 131 EA 99 83
Numeric character reference Ѕ Ѕ ѕ ѕ Ꙅ Ꙅ ꙅ ꙅ Ꙃ Ꙃ ꙃ ꙃ
Named character reference Ѕ ѕ
Code page 855 137 89 136 88
Windows-1251 189 BD 190 BE
ISO-8859-5 165 A5 245 F5
Macintosh Cyrillic 193 C1 207 CF

See also


  1. ^ Dontchev Daskalov, Roumen; Marinov, Tchavdar (2013), Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies, Balkan Studies Library, BRILL, p. 454, ISBN 900425076X
  2. ^ Gamanovich, Alypy (1964), ? - (Grammar of the Church Slavonic Language), Jordanville, New York: Printing shop of St. Job of Pochaev, Holy Trinity Monastery (published 1984), ISBN 978-0-88465-064-5

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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