Hungarian Ly
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Hungarian Ly

Ly is a digraph of the Latin alphabet, used in Hungarian.


Ly is the twentieth letter of the Hungarian alphabet. Its Hungarian name is elipszilon /?l:ipsilon/ or ej /?j:/. Now, it represents the same phoneme /j/ (palatal approximant) as the Hungarian letter j, but historically, it represented the different phoneme /?/ (palatal lateral approximant).

It is used this way only in Hungarian. In Hungarian, even if two characters are put together to make a different sound, they are considered one letter, and even acronyms keep the letter intact.

The combination lj (considered two separate letters, L and J) is also common in Hungarian and is even pronounced /?/ by many speakers. However, even it is sometimes subject to the same reduction to /j/ that ly has been, mainly if it is at the end of a word.


Originally, the digraph letter ly was used to represent the palatal lateral /?/, just as the digraph letter ny is still used to represent the palatal nasal /?/. However, in the eastern dialects as well as in the standard dialect, the phoneme /?/ lost its lateral feature and merged with /j/ (akin to Spanish yeísmo). The Hungarian letter ly came to be pronounced the same as the Hungarian letter j. In the western dialects, /?/ lost its palatal feature and merged with /l/ (alveolar lateral approximant). In the northern dialects, the phoneme /?/ has been preserved.[1]

The digraph ly was also used for the sound /?/ in Croatian alphabet before Gaj's Latin Alphabet was introduced.[2]


These examples are Hungarian words that use the letter ly, with the English translation following:

  • furulya = flute
  • amely = which
  • helyi = local
  • golyó = ball
  • lyuk = hole
  • kehely = goblet
  • folyó = river

See also


  1. ^ BENK? Loránd; IMRE Samu (ed.): The Hungarian Language. Janua Linguarum, Series Practica, No. 134. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter (1972).
  2. ^ Alphabeti Serborum

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