Lowercase ꞗ

B with flourish (Ꞗ, ꞗ) is the modern name for the third letter of the Middle Vietnamese alphabet, sorted between B and C. The B with flourish has a rounded hook that starts halfway up the stem (where the top of the bowl meets the ascender) and curves about 180 degrees counterclockwise, ending below the bottom-left corner. It represents the voiced bilabial fricative /β/, which in modern Vietnamese merged with the voiced labiodental fricative, written as the letter V in the Vietnamese alphabet. (In Middle Vietnamese, V represented the labio-velar approximant /w/.)



The first page of the ꞗ section in de Rhodes's Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum

The B with flourish is known principally from the works of Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes, particularly his trilingual dictionary Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum (1651) and bilingual Cathechismus (1658). For example, vậy was written ꞗệy. As with the letter Đ, only the lowercase form ꞗ is seen in these works, even where a capital letter would be expected.[1]

The Vietnamese alphabet was formally described for the first time in the 17th-century text Manuductio ad Linguam Tunckinensem, attributed to a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, possibly Francisco de Pina[2] or Filipe Sibin.[3] This passage about the letter Ꞗ was later incorporated into de Rhodes's Dictionarium:[4]

…pronunciatur ferè ut β Græcum ut, ꞗĕaò ingredi, non eſt tamen omninò ſimile noſtro, V, conſonanti, ſed paulo aſperius, & in ipſa labiorum apertione pronuntiatur ita ut ſit verè litera labialis, ut Hebræi loquuntur, non autem dentalis.

— Alexandre de Rhodes, Lingue annamiticæ seu tunchinensis brevis declaratio[5]

The passage roughly translates to:

…pronounced almost like the Greek β, for example ꞗĕaò, to enter, yet not quite the same as our consonant V, but a little coarser, and in the very opening of the lips pronounced, indeed, as though it were a labial letter, as the Hebrews speak it, rather than a dental.

The linguistic interpretation of this description is that the sound was a voiced bilabial fricative, which phoneticians transcribe with the Greek letter beta [β].[6]

Although some peculiarities of de Rhodes's orthography persisted into the early 19th century,[7] the B with flourish had by then become V, as seen in the writings of Vietnamese Jesuit Philipphê Bỉnh (Philiphê do Rosario).

Computer supportEdit

The lowercase B with flourish and a hypothetical uppercase form, unattested in de Rhodes's works, were standardized in June 2014 as part of the Latin Extended-D block of Unicode 7.0.[8]

Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 42902 U+A796 42903 U+A797
UTF-8 234 158 150 EA 9E 96 234 158 151 EA 9E 97
Numeric character reference Ꞗ Ꞗ ꞗ ꞗ

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ de Rhodes, Alexandre (1658). "Ngày thứ bốn". Cathechismus pro iis, qui volunt suscipere baptismum, in octo dies divisus (in Vietnamese). p. 103. ꞗệy thì còn cái ou᷄ Adam lià nhau…
  2. ^ Jacques, Roland (2002). Portuguese Pioneers of Vietnamese Linguistics. Bangkok: Orchid Press. ISBN 9748304779.
  3. ^ Gesammelte Studien. Bibliotheca Instituti Historici S.I. (in Portuguese). 21. Jesuit Historical Institute. 1963. p. 12. …e a « Manuductio ad linguam Tunckinensem » do Padre Filipe Sibin SI…
  4. ^ Nguyễn Minh Hoàng. "Alexandre de Rhodes có phải là cha đẻ của chữ Quốc ngữ?" [Was Alexandre de Rhodes the father of the Vietnamese alphabet?]. Hồn Việt (in Vietnamese). Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  5. ^ de Rhodes, Alexandre (1651). "Lingue annamiticæ seu tunchinensis brevis declaratio". Dictionarium annamiticum lusitanicum, et latinum (in Latin). Rome: Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. p. 3.
  6. ^ “The two b’s in the Vietnamese dictionary of Alexandre de Rhodes”. Originally published in Vietnamese translation as: Hai Chữ B, trong cuốn từ điển của A-lếch-xan đơ Rốt. Ngôn Ngữ [Linguistics] 4 (1974). Published in French in 2005 as: Les deux b du Dictionarium d’A. de Rhodes, Cahiers d’Etudes Vietnamiennes 18, 65–68. English translation (available online) to appear in: Haudricourt, André-Georges. Evolution of languages and techniques. (Ed.) Martine Mazaudon, Boyd Michailovsky & Alexis Michaud. (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM] 270). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  7. ^ Jacques, Roland (1998). "Le Portugal et la romanisation de la langue vietnamienne. Faut-il réécrire l'histoire ?" [Portugal and the romanization of the Vietnamese language. Should we rewrite history?]. Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer (in French). Société française d'histoire d'outre-mer. 85 (318): 52. doi:10.3406/outre.1998.3600.
  8. ^ Everson, Michael (February 8, 2012). "Proposal for the addition of five Latin characters to the UCS" (PDF). Universal Character Set. JTC1/SC2/WG2. Retrieved February 11, 2012.

External linksEdit