(plural hard signs)
- The Cyrillic letter Ъ/ъ, which in modern languages serves to denote a hard (non-palatalized) consonant.
- In modern Russian has no phonetic value of its own, and is purely an orthographic device. Its function is to separate a number of prefixes ending in a consonant from a following morpheme that begins with an iotated vowel. It is therefore commonly seen in front of the letters "я", "ё", "е", and "ю". The hard sign marks the fact that the sound IPA: [j] continues to be heard in the composition. Example:
- съёмка (sʺjómka) (IPA(key): /ˈsjomkə/): "filming"
- сёстры (sjóstry) (IPA(key): /ˈsʲostrɨ/): nominative plural of сестра́ (sestrá) "sister"
- It therefore functions as a kind of "separation sign", which is used after prepositions and has been used only sparingly in the aforementioned cases since the spelling reform of 1918.