17

Some sources say that there are 32 letters in the alphabet, while others say there are 33. The discrepancy seems to be a result of including/excluding ё. They also mention (whether or not they include ё) that ё is frequently rendered as е.

Is ё a distinct letter, or is it just е with a diaeresis?

4
  • Well, you can tell just by the way it looks that it is a "е" with a diaeresis. There are no two ways about it. That's a cyrillic E with diaeresis. Also known as "yo".
    – RomanSt
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 21:28
  • 1
    Here is a video about letter Ё. There is evidence that the sound that this letter denotes existed in XII century.
    – Artemix
    Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 3:51
  • I know that in Finnish, letters with the double dots (My Finnish friend insisted that in Finnish they were not an umlaut.) were separate letters, and I found that was borne out in the dictionary, or sarnakirja, where those letters were so separate, they fell at the end of the alphabet. A word with those dots left out was not misaccented, it was misspelled. It might be worth checking a Russian dictionary to see if these are handled similarly. Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 19:56
  • that's *sanakirja...
    – CocoPop
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 19:07

6 Answers 6

30

Ё is a distinct letter. You can find ё in children's literature (ёжик, ёлочка, самолёт), but almost all authors will replace it with e in business, academic and journalistic literature. This exchange is found only on the letter.

Ё is pronounced like yo in the English word yoga. Remember: the accent always falls on ё.

Now the problem concerning the letter ё is common to all Russian editors, writers and authors. Some scientists believe that we should use ё in literature, while others believe that it should be replaced by е. For example, Arkady Milchin argues that ё is used in literature only if the meaning of the word with е is unclear, such as with "все - everybody" and "всё - everything". There are different meanings in the words with е and ё. For example, Тема is a topic and Тёма is the diminutive-hypocoristic form of the name Артём.

One magazine, "За рулём," was published in 1928. It used the letter e in the word "рулем" until 1956. Then, in the years 1956-1975 it used the letter ё. From 1975 to the present day, it's used the letter е in the name of the magazine. You can look through the photos.

7
  • Nice answer, Maria! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 10:09
  • As your nice question =) Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 10:16
  • The question was not mine. :P Ctype.h asked it. :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 10:17
  • 1
    No problem! And welcome to Russian SE. :) My name in the center says "edited # mins ago"... This means I edited the post. :) If you've got any question, try Russian Language Meta or Ask a Russian moderator in chat. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 10:23
  • 1
    "(Stress) accent always falls on ё". However in words like трёхмерный the stress is not the primary one. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 17:46
9

It is a distinct letter. You can find more details on Wikipedia (Original Russian Wiki)

The letter has a rich history, and is currently somewhat-optional but required in specific cases (translation from Russian Wiki):

According to the Letter of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation of 03.05.2007, № AF-159/03 "Decisions of the Interdepartmental Commission on the Russian language" [17] one is required to write the letter "ё" in cases where there may be confusion in pronouncing the word, such as in proper names; as ignoring the letter "ё" in this case is a violation of Federal Law "On the state language of the Russian Federation."

According to the rules of Russian spelling and punctuation in the regular printed texts the usage of "ё" is optional. However, at the request of the author or editor any book can be reprinted using "ё". (src: "Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации. Полный академический справочник. Под ред. В. В. Лопатина", ЭКСМО, 2006. Стр. 20, § 5)

2

Using е instead of ё may change the meaning of word. Все means all. Всё has another meaning; the end or death, as in the joke about the shortest telegram "Изя - всё!", or all ot this "Всё это".

Все собрались?
Everybody here?

Всё собрали?
Did you collect all the stuff?

1

According to the executive order from Dec 24th, 1942 the letter "ё" is to be used in school education and in litterature, but many people recently have ignored this letter. Actually, it makes reading easier, because we read words as a whole, not by letters, and this letter is very much helpful, especially in fast reading.

2
  • While I agree that ё is a separate letter, I'd like to see an explanation of how it makes reading easier.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 8:45
  • I'll try. As I said, we read each work not by letters but as a whole, and ascending and descending elements like ё's dots (or even capital letters) make the words more recognizable and more easily readable, especially long ones. You may try as well to read some text typed with different typefaces. Even kerning makes difference. It's not so obvious with English because latin alphabet has few such letters, but it's far more obvious in languages with diacritical signs like French. You may write two sentences with those signs and without them and easily read both, but you'll read the former faster
    – user952
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 19:29
-1

It's a distinct letter both in its pronunciation (/jo/ for Ё vs. /je/ for Е) and in its computer encoding (U+0401/U+0451 for Ё/ё vs. U+0415/U+0435 for Е/е).

-1

These are different letters, but Ё isn't included in the base Cyrillic alphabet used in probably most encodings for no apparent reason. As far as I know, not a lot of systems render Ё as Е; some that do are pygame and SDL (there, the text is rendered into a separate surface and then blitted and all the surfaces are bound by their logical box (as I call it; there, it's the same as the bounding box)); AFAIK, they're the only engines that do that, but I've also seen one that doesn't support Ё and puts Й's upper part lower because the display is limited. I've never heard or read about replacing it with Е (see the accepted answer) before, but in many cases, that doesn't change the meaning of the word. In most cases that I remembered while writing this answer, I use the one with Ё; the exception is все/всё, where I choose it depending on the meaning (like the meanings are separated on Gramota.ru with one small difference that makes it more sense to me). I believe you should use whatever is where you took it from (or represents that if it was said) if you're citing someone unless you specify that you've changed it. Thanks for the idea, though; since now, if I have to write a lipogram without Ё, I'll just do that (e.g. if I had had to write “yellow” in a lipogram before, I would've used “желтоватый”; now, I'll use “желтый”). I also now have top 3 most ridiculous rules of Russian that I know, and all of them are about Ё. (Replacing Ё with Е is #3, i.e., the least ridiculous of them; it doesn't beat the other two.) Also, it's weird that you've called it a diaeresis; I think it's more like an umlaut

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