Table of contents:

Where did the letter "e" come from, why is it constantly forgotten and why it is better not to give it up?
Where did the letter "e" come from, why is it constantly forgotten and why it is better not to give it up?

This letter is perhaps the most controversial in the Russian alphabet. For several centuries of its existence, it had both loyal supporters and ardent opponents, however, occupying its rightful place between "e" and "g", it still has a very precarious position: some ignore it, others use it only in special cases, and only a few faithfully write it in all their texts.

Dashkova - mother of "yo"

The question of using the letter "ё" first arose in 1783. At one of the first meetings to discuss the draft of the six-volume Dictionary of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the director of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences Ekaterina Dashkova proposed to introduce this letter for writing words with combinations of sounds “io”, such as, for example, “Christmas tree”.

Ekaterina Dashkova was the first to raise the question of introducing a new letter into the alphabet. / Portrait of D. Levitsky

Derzhavin was one of the first to use this letter in his letters, but only 12 years after the aforementioned meeting did “e” appear in print - readers saw two dots above the “e” in the book of poetry by the poet Ivan Dmitriev. A year later, "yo" appeared in the collection of poems "Aonida" by Karamzin, but he did not use it in his scientific works, because it was not part of the alphabet then.

Much later, in 1875, Leo Tolstoy included "e" in his "New alphabet", placing it between the letters "yat" and "e".

Leo Tolstoy with his grandchildren. / Retro photo

It should be noted that the letter "ё" in tsarist Russia also had irreconcilable opponents - for example, Sumarokov and Trediakovsky. And some representatives of the intelligentsia generally considered "yokanie" in writing and speech to be philistine.

To "legitimize" this letter, the authorities returned in 1917 - only the Soviet authorities. The decree, signed by the People's Commissar of Education Lunacharsky, contained the following wording: "To recognize the use of the letter" e "as desirable, but not obligatory."

Joseph Stalin loved "yo"

By the way, Joseph Stalin respected the letter "e" very much, which is confirmed by the order issued in December 1942, signed by the People's Commissar of Education Potemkin, on the mandatory use of "e" in schools. It was from this time that she officially entered the alphabet. It is known that if, in wartime, the leader was brought for signature papers with surnames, in which "e" was replaced by "e", Stalin demanded that the document be altered. That is why, since December 1942, "yo" has become invariably present in all the texts of the Pravda newspaper.

I. Stalin works with papers, 1942

The Rules of Russian Spelling and Punctuation, published in 1956, recommend writing the letter "ё" only in certain cases: when it is necessary to prevent incorrect reading and understanding of a word, when it is necessary to show how to pronounce a little-known word (for example, a geographical name). Also, the letter should be used in specialized texts - such as textbooks, school primers, dictionaries, and so on.

The new version of these rules from 2006 also provides for the use of "ё" only when necessary: ​​in texts with consistently placed stress marks, in literature for kids, as well as in textbooks compiled for elementary school students and foreigners who are learning Russian. It is also specified that in any book the author, if desired, has the right to use the letter "ё".

The use of the letter ё is only advisory in nature

It is selectively recommended to write this letter in the same cases that were indicated in the previous rules, as well as in proper names (for example, when writing the surnames Konenkov, Schrödinger, Dezhnev, Neyolova).

It is clear that confusion with "e" and "e" has often caused legal disputes. But 11 years ago, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation ruled: "If there are no two dots in the surname above the e, this does not distort the data about the citizen."

In general, although the authors of the texts are not formally required to put two dots over the "e", in some cases, neglect of this letter can turn into a curiosity or cause the author to misunderstand the text.

When you can't do without "yo"

"We do not recognize you" - "We do not recognize you"

This is a typical example of how the meaning of what is written for the reader can be distorted. For example, if your former classmates say “We don’t recognize you,” to the sentence: “I propose to meet,” it may mean: “You must have changed a lot,” and “Strange … You never wanted to see us.” In this case, the presence (or absence) of the notorious two points is essential.

"Sky" - "Sky"

Another example of the ambiguity of what was written. When you read “The doctor noted that the sky was especially red today,” you involuntarily think: is it about a beautiful sunset that the doctor saw from the window, or about his next patient, whose mouth was examined by him?

It is better not to confuse the palate with the palate

"Bucket" - "Bucket"

Now you rarely hear the word "bucket", but our grandparents knew it well: in the old days, this was the name for clear, dry weather. And although it is practically not used in modern speech, this word remained in classical literature and in Russian folk sayings. Here are some examples: “They don’t cover huts in the rain, but they don’t drip into a bucket”, “Where there is a thunderstorm, there’s a lot of it”, “If there is bad weather in your heart, it’s like rain in a bucket”. Agree, if the word "bucket" in them is replaced by "bucket", you get stupidity.

The widespread replacement of the letter "ё" with "e" often leads to the fact that people begin to get confused in the pronunciation of words and even famous surnames. So, many say "scam" instead of "scam", although it is the second option that is considered correct. The word comes from the French affaire, which is pronounced roughly like "aphea". And the word "being" is sometimes pronounced as "being", although the first option is a literary norm, and the second is colloquial and not recognized by all dictionaries.


Another common speech error in pronunciation is "grenadier" (correctly - grenadier "). However, due to the widespread prevalence of incorrect pronunciation of this word, some dictionaries have already begun to indicate this option as acceptable. Linguists admit that in the near future the two options may be recognized as equal, but for now the pronunciation of "grinader" in the society of educated people will give you an illiterate person.

Confusion with the letters "e" and "e" also affected the names of famous people. So, Afanasy Fet (this is how the surname of his German mother - Foeth sounded) eventually turned into Afanasy Fet.

After Fet's death, his surname was written and pronounced exclusively through the "e", but this happened everywhere during his lifetime

During the poet's lifetime, the printing houses that published his poems replaced the letter "e" with "e", which is why readers mispronounced his surname. And he himself did not attach much importance to this. Gradually everyone forgot about the name "Fet", and the version "Fet" took root. The poet Robert Burns became Robert Burns (the same confusion with the psychiatrist Eric Byrne, whose surname is pronounced in two versions), and the legendary singer Mireille Mathieu is increasingly called Mireille Mathieu by our compatriots.

It is interesting that the letter "ё" is not found in all Slavic peoples: in addition to the Russian alphabet, it is in the Belarusian, as well as in the Ruthenian alphabet. But in the Ukrainian Bulgarian writing there is no such letter (for this purpose, a combination of two sounds is used). By the way, in the Old Church Slavonic (and, accordingly, in the Church Slavonic) writing, "yo" was not found, since there was simply no such combination of sounds in colloquial speech.

In continuation of the linguistic topic, we have collected philological anecdotes that will be understandable not only to professionals.

Popular by topic