Ą Explained

Ą (minuscule: ą) is a letter in the Polish, Kashubian, Lithuanian, Creek, Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Hocąk, Mescalero, Gwich'in, Tutchone, and Elfdalian alphabets. It is formed from the letter a and an ogonek and usually - except for modern Polish - denotes a nasal a sound.

Polish

In Polish and Kashubian ą is right after a in the alphabet but it never appears at the start of a word. Originally ą was a nasal a but in modern times the pronunciation of this vowel has shifted to a nasal o sound. It is most commonly pronounced as,, .

Unlike French but rather like Portuguese ão, nasal vowels in Polish are asynchronous, meaning that they are pronounced as an oral vowel + a nasal semivowel, or a nasal vowel + a nasal semivowel. For the sake of simplicity, it is sometimes represented as .

Some examples,

Before all stops and affricates, it is pronounced as an oral vowel + nasal consonant, with appearing before most consonants, while appears before p or b. For example,

Loss of all nasal quality is rare with ą, occurring only before Ł, thus, zajął .

In dialects of some regions, ą in final position is also pronounced as, thus, robią is occasionally pronounced as .

History

Polish ą evolved from long nasal a of medieval Polish, which developed into a short nasal o in the modern language. This medieval vowel, along with its short counterpart, evolved in turn from the merged nasal *ę and *ǫ of Late Proto-Slavic.

Evolution
Early Proto-Slavic
  • em/*en and *am/*an
Late Proto-Slavic and, transcribed ⟨ę⟩ and ⟨ǫ⟩
Medieval Polishshort and long, sometimes written approx. ⟨ø⟩
Modern Polishshort →,,, written ⟨ę⟩
long →,,, written ⟨ą⟩

Alternations

ą often alternates with ę, for example:

However, in words derived from rząd (government), the vowel does not change. Thus, government in nominative: rząd → rozporządzenie rządu (government's ordinance, in genitive case)

Audio examples

Lithuanian

In Lithuanian language ą is pronounced as a long a. It is the second letter of Lithuanian alphabet called "a nosinė" - "nasal a". Ą can be found at the beginning of a word (ąsotis [a:so:tis] (jug)) or to construct an ending of accusative case as in aslą [a:sla:] - accusative of asla (ground, floor) - where both a and ą in aslą are pronounced equally as two long "a" sounds. Thus ą is used to distinguish between the transcription of accusative and the nominative cases of the noun asla.
Nasal an/am forms have transitioned to pronouncing [a:] as in sąrašas (list) ~ san-grąža (turnover, return).

The Americas

In some indigenous languages of the Americas, ą denotes a nasal a sound.

Computing codes

charactercolspan=2Ącolspan=2ą
Unicode namecolspan=2LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH OGONEKcolspan=2LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH OGONEK
character encodingdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode26001042610105
UTF-8196 132C4 84196 133C4 85
Numeric character reference&
  1. 260;
&
  1. x0104;
&
  1. 261;
&
  1. x0105;
CP 775181B5208D0
Windows-1250165A5185B9
Windows-1257192C0224E0
ISO-8859-2 and ISO-8859-4161A1177B1
Mac Central European1328413688

See also