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It commonly represents the close front unrounded vowel /i/ like the pronunciation of ⟨i⟩ in English "machine".
It is used in the orthographies of Belarusian, Kazakh, Khakas, Komi, Carpathian Rusyn and Ukrainian and quite often, but not always, is the equivalent of the Cyrillic letter i (И и) as used in Russian and other languages.
The two Carpathian Rusyn standard varieties use і, и and ы for three different sounds: /i/, /ɪ/ and /ɨ/, respectively.
In Komi, і occurs only after the consonants д, з, л, н, с, and т and does not palatalize them while и does. In Kazakh and Khakas, і represents /ɪ/, as in "bit".
In Kazakh, the letter occurs on most native Turkic words. Most of the loanwords use и.
Just like the Latin letters I/i (and J/j), the dot above the letter appears only in its lowercase form and then only if that letter is not combined with a diacritic above it (notably the diaeresis, used in Ukrainian to note the letter yi of its alphabet, and the macron).
Even when the lowercase form is present without any other diacritic, the dot is not always rendered in historic texts (the same historically applied to the Roman letters i and j). Some modern texts and font styles, except for cursive styles, still discard the "soft" dot on the lowercase letter because the text is readable without it.
The Cyrillic soft-dotted letter i was derived from the Greek letter iota (Ι ι).
The name of this letter in the Early Cyrillic alphabet was и (i), meaning "and".
In the Cyrillic numeral system, soft-dotted І had a value of 10.
In the early Cyrillic alphabet, there was little or no distinction between the Cyrillic letter i (И и), derived from the Greek letter eta, and the soft-dotted letter i. They both remained in the alphabetical repertoire since they represented different numbers in the Cyrillic numeral system, eight and ten, respectively. They are, therefore, sometimes referred to as octal I and decimal I.
|Belarusian, Kazakh, Khakas, Komi, Carpathian Rusyn, Ukrainian||In current use.|
|Macedonian||Either this letter or the letter ⟨Й⟩ was used by Macedonian authors to represent the sound /j/ until the introduction of the letter ⟨Ј⟩.|
|Russian||In use until 1918, when a significant reform of the Russian orthography came into effect.|
|Bulgarian||In use until 1878.|
|Ossetian||In use until 1923.|
Rules for usage in Russian (pre-1918)
- ⟨і⟩ was used before all vowels and before the semivowel ⟨й⟩ except at the end of a morpheme in a compound word, where ⟨и⟩ was used: пяти + акровый = пятиакровый, (five-acre)
- ⟨и⟩ was used as the last letter of a word and before consonants except in міръ for "world, universe, local community, commons, society, laity" and words derived from it.
The distinction between миръ ("peace") and міръ ("world"), lost when they were merged to мир, led to the legend that Tolstoy's War and Peace (Война и миръ) was originally titled "War and (the) World".
As it turns out, the spelling of the two variants of мир was an artificial distinction to separate two different definitions of what was originally in fact the same word (much as with English "to" vs. "too").
|Unicode name||CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER
|CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER|
|UTF-8||208 134||D0 86||209 150||D1 96|
|Numeric character reference||І||І||і||і|
|Code page 855||139||8B||138||8A|
Related letters and other similar characters
- Ι ι : Greek letter Iota
- I i, İ i and I ı : Latin letter I (soft-dotted), dotted and dotless I
- И и : Cyrillic letter I
- Ї ї : Cyrillic letter Yi
- Й й : Cyrillic letter Short I
- Ј ј : Cyrillic letter Je
- Ӏ ӏ : Cyrillic letter Palochka
- Ꙇ ꙇ : Cyrillic letter Iota