The letter "esh" (ʃ) is well-known from the IPA, and is also used in some languages' orthographies. Because of this second use case, Unicode includes a capital esh at U+01A9 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER ESH (Ʃ).

But do any modern orthographies use this unicode character?


When I designed the fc fonts for use with TeX I researched character usage by African languages and found at least one language using a capital esh. I saw good quality specimens in printed matter and the capital Esh is in some sense smaller than its lowercase conterpart, it has the height of a normal capital letter and no descender. It was integral shaped. I did not find evidence for contemporary use of a Sigma-shaped capital Esh then (early 1990ies), but is was used historically in now obsolete orthographies.

The full list of languages I inspected is: Akan, Bamileke, Basa (Kru), Bemba, Ciokwe, Dinka, Dholuo (Luo), Efik, Ewe-Fon, Fulani (Fulful), Gã, Gbaya, Hausa, Ịgbọ, Kanuri, Kikuyu, Kikongo, Kpelle, Krio, Luba, Mandekan (Bambara), Mende, More, Ngala, Nyanja, Oromo, Rundi, Kinya Rwanda, Sango, Serer, Shona, Somali, Songhai, Sotho (two different writing systems), Suaheli, Tiv, Yao, Yoruba, Xhosa, and Zulu.

I can now confirm that it was Gã, I have found my old notes again.

  • 1
    Wonderful, that's exactly what I was looking for! (I edited to replace the LaTeX diacritics with Unicode ones.)
    – Draconis
    Jan 13 '19 at 21:47

The Unicode code chart has the note "African" next to U+01A9. It most likely refers to the 1928 Africa Alphabet.

Wikipedia says:

[I]n 1928 the Africa Alphabet borrowed the Greek letter Sigma for the uppercase form Ʃ, but more recently the African reference alphabet discontinued it, using the lowercase esh only.

So it is unlikely that it is still used in a modern orthography, perhaps aside from literary IPA transcriptions like this.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.