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.
In Polish and Kashubian ą is right after a in the alphabet but it never appears at the beginning 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 /ɔw̃/, /ɔn/, /ɔm/.
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 [ɔw̃], or a nasal vowel + a nasal semivowel. For the sake of simplicity, it is sometimes represented as /ɔ̃/.
- obowiązek ("duty", "obligation"), pronounced [ɔbɔˈvjɔw̃zɛk]
- robią ("They are making"), pronounced [ˈrɔbjɔw̃]
- wciąż ("still"), pronounced [ˈftɕɔw̃ʂ]
- kąpać ("to bathe") is pronounced [ˈkɔmpatɕ]
- pająk ("spider") is pronounced [ˈpajɔŋk]
- bądź (imperative be), as in Bądź cierpliwy! ("Be patient!") is pronounced [ˈbɔɲtɕ]
- oglądając ("(by) watching") is pronounced [ɔɡlɔnˈdajɔnts]
Loss of all nasal quality is rare with ą, occurring only before Ł, thus, zajął [ˈzajɔw].
In dialects of some regions, ą in final position is also pronounced as /ɔm/, thus, robią is occasionally pronounced as [ˈrɔbjɔm].
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.
|Early Proto-Slavic||*em/*en and *am/*an|
|Late Proto-Slavic||/ẽ/ and /õ/, transcribed ⟨ę⟩ and ⟨ǫ⟩|
|Medieval Polish||short and long /ã/, sometimes written approx. ⟨ø⟩|
|Modern Polish||short /ã/ → /ɛw̃/, /ɛn/, /ɛm/, written ⟨ę⟩
long /ã/ → /ɔw̃/, /ɔn/, /ɔm/, written ⟨ą⟩
ą often alternates with ę, for example:
- tooth: ząb → zęby (teeth), thousand: tysiąc → tysięcy (thousands), snake: wąż → węże (snakes)
- husband in nominative: mąż → z mężem (with husband, in instrumental case)
- weight: ciężar → ciążyć (to weigh down, to be a burden), month: miesiąc → miesięczny (monthly), a judge: sędzia → sądzić (to judge, think)
- row in nominative: rząd → cztery razy z rzędu (four times in a row, in genitive case)
This letter is most often found at the end of the noun, 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).
In some cases ą, ę and į (never ė) may be used in different forms interchangeably, as in tąsa (extension) - tęsia (extends) - tįsoti (to lie extended). Finally some verbs have it in the middle of the word, only in the present tense (bąla - is getting white, but not pabalo (has become white).
Ą can also be found at the beginning of several words (ąsotis [a:so:tis] (jug)).
In some indigenous languages of the Americas, ą denotes a nasal a sound.
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH OGONEK||LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH OGONEK|
|UTF-8||196 132||C4 84||196 133||C4 85|
|Numeric character reference||Ą||Ą||ą||ą|
|ISO-8859-2 and ISO-8859-4||161||A1||177||B1|
|Mac Central European||132||84||136||88|
Letter A with diacritics
Letters using ogonek sign ( ◌̨ )