The letter Çç originated in the Visigothic script used in Spain in early medieval times. Contrary to what the modern shape and name c-cedilla suggests, it is not originally a Cc with a diacritic, but a swash form of the letter Zz.
A form of Zz like the ʒ now used in IPA for the French sound of Jj, with a downward curved swash replacing the lower horizontal line, was widespread in medieval scripts. In Spain this form developed a variant with also the upper horizontal line becoming a curved swash. In time this form (no. 3 in the image to the left) became differentiated in use, denoting the voiceless coronal affricate /t͡s/ while form (1) or (2) denoted the corresponding voiced affricate /d͡z/. Perhaps it was the use of this letter form for the same sound as Cc represented before the letters Ee, Ii and Yy that prompted its further development into a form like a Cc with a tail, through increasing the size of the upper curve while decreasing the size of the lower part.
The word cedilla is originally a diminutive of zeda or ceda, the Spanish name for the letter Zz, and thus was originally a name for the letter Çç, and not just for the ostensible diacritic. Alternative forms in older Spanish were cerilla and ceril. Incidentally cerilla means "friction match" in modern Spanish!
Cedilla in Unicode
Note that the cedilla may be confused with ogonek ˛ or comma below ◌̦. In some fonts, the cedilla together with some letters may look identical to the comma. In Romanian, the letters Șș and Țț are actually supposed to have a comma below and not a cedilla, while in most other languages Şş and Ţţ are supposed to have cedillas.
|Cedilla||Combining Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter C With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter C With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter C With Cedilla And Acute||Latin Small Letter C With Cedilla And Acute||Latin Capital Letter D With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter D With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter E With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter E With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter E With Cedilla And Breve||Latin Small Letter E With Cedilla And Breve||Latin Capital Letter G With Cedilla|
|Latin Small Letter G With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter H With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter H With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter K With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter K With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter L With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter L With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter N With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter N With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter R With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter R With Cedilla||Latin Capital Letter S With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter S With Cedilla|
|Note: The diacritic is placed on top of the letter to avoid the descender of the g.||||Note: May be confused with Latin Capital Letter S With Comma Below, Ș (U+0218).||Note: May be confused with Latin Small Letter S With Comma Below, ș (U+0219).|
|Latin Capital Letter T With Cedilla||Latin Small Letter T With Cedilla|
|Note: May be confused with Latin Capital Letter T With Comma Below, Ț (U+021A).||Note: May be confused with Latin Small Letter T With Comma Below, ț (U+021B).|
Cedilla in Natlangs
|Alphabet extension||Turkish||Çç /t͡ʃ/||Unaccented Cc stands for /d͡ʒ/. One could argue that the cedilla denotes voicing, but one could also argue that the letter Çç was chosen in analogy with Şş, another postalveolar consonant (see below).|
|Alveopalatal consonant||Kazakh (2019 alphabet and Kazinform's romanization)||Çç /tɕ/, Şş /ɕ/||These phonemes are also sometimes transcribed as /tʃ, ʃ/. /tɕ/ occurs mostly in Russian loan words and not in native words. Unaccented Cc and Ss stand for /ts/ (not native) and /s/.|
|Disambiguation in transliteration||Darī (BGN/PCGN 2007 romanization)||Ḩḩ /h/, Şş /s/, Ţţ /t/, Z̧z̧ /z/||Darī and Pashto use several Arabic characters that are pronounced the same. In the BGN/PCGN 2007 romanization Hh and Ḩḩ are both used for /h/; Ss, S̄s̄, Şş are all used for /s/; Tt and Ţţ are both used for /t/; and Zz, Z̄z̄, Ẕẕ, Z̧z̧ are all used for /z/. Note that Z̧z̧ are not precomposed characters.|
|Pashto (BGN/PCGN 2007 romanization)|
|Disambiguation of letter with several uses||Catalan||Çç /s/||Çç is used before Aa, Oo, Uu, or word-finally, and stands for /s/. Cc without cedilla would stand for /k/ in those positions. Intervocalic Çç is pronunced [s], while intervocalic Ss is [z].|
|Portuguese||The cedilla shows that the letter is pronounced /s/ instead of /k/.|
|Palatal consonant||Latgalian, Latvian||Ģģ /ɟ/, Ķķ /c/, Ļļ /ʎ/, Ņņ /ɲ/|
|Livonian||Ḑḑ /ɟ/, Ļļ /ʎ/, Ņņ /ɲ/, Ţţ /c/|
|Palatalized consonant||Livonian||Ŗŗ /rʲ/|
|Postalveolar consonant||Albanian (Istanbul alphabet)||Çç /tʃ/, Z̧ z̧ /ʒ/||Unaccented Cc and Zz stood for /ts/ and /z/ respectively. There was also an X̦x̦. It is unclear if the diacritic under it is supposed to be a cedilla. Currently this letter is presented in Comma Below. The Istanbul alphabet is no longer in use.|
|Albanian (Manastir (current) alphabet)||Çç /tʃ/||Unaccented Cc stands for /ts/.|
- The image of the Visigothic z was borrowed from Dr Dianne Tillotson's medieval writing site. She in turn got it from the British Library.
- Visigothic script and Cedilla at Wikipedia.
- Turkish, Writing system at Wikipedia.
- Kazakh alphabets and Kazakh language, Phonology at Wikipedia.
- BGN/PCGN National Romanization System for Afghanistan (PDF). See also Dari or Pashto phonology at Wikipedia.
- Catalan alphabet at Wikipedia.
- Portuguese orthography at Wikipedia.
- Albanian alphabet, Congress of Manastir at Wikipedia.