How is "й" used in Ukrainian?
I keep seeing "й" used in places where "and" doesn't seem to translate easily. I'm reading Harry Potter in Ukrainian right now, so here are a few examples alongside the original English to show you what I mean:
"То був такий дебелий чолов'яга, що, здається, й шиї не мав." He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck.
"Дурслі знали, що й Поттери мають сина, але ніколи його не бачили." The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him.
"Саме тоді й почалася наша історія." This is where our story begins. (my own translation, as the English is structured differently)
"Ніхто й не помітив, як за вікном..." None of them noticed a large tawny owl flutter..."
"Спочатку містер Дурслі цього й не усвідомив." For a second, Mr Dursley didn't realise what he had seen.
Is it perhaps used for emphasis or just to make things sound nice? I can't find anything online to explain it because it only ever seems to get mentioned alongside "і" and "та" :/
As a letter within the word, it changes the sound of the vowel before it, making it a dipthong. (Dipthongs are vowel combinations that are pronounced like single sounds.)
Think of how it is in English when we use "i" or "y" after a vowel:
"old" - "oil"
"dance" - "daily"
"nether-" - "neither"
So in the course, when you learn the word for "tea", it's "чай" giving it the same sound as "chai". The reason is because there is no one letter for that long "i" sound, the way words are pronounced in English like "ice", or "idea". The "й" letter is an indicator to change how the vowel sounds, and to glide the sound together.
In the course, you'll see the words: "Дайте будь ласка..." (please give me...) where you'll see the word "дайте" indicates the pronounciation will be like "dye-tah". It no longer has the short A sound. When you see combinations using this letter it's to give the vowel a sort of "y" sound together with the vowel being used.
Also, "й" can be used as a conjunction word, just like saying "and". Hope this helps!
Слово "й" водночас є і сполучником (як "і", "та"), і часткою. Як частка воно належить до підсилювально-видільних (і, й, та, таки, аж, навіть, вже, ж, же, бо) як у наведених Вами прикладах.
yeah it's used instead of і for euphony when the previous word ends in a vowel (or the next word starts with one)
In your examples й can be dropped. In this case, й makes the text more literary, adds some expression.
The letter «й» is [old] Cyryllic graphic which represent «short и», but after changet alphabet it could make mess, because for Ukrainian itʼs not «short и», but «short і», so for and between «й» and «і» here almost no difference but only for melodic, itʼs comparable with English «a» and «and».
But, be careful, the letter «й» represent «short і» only when it doesnʼt start syllable: – мій, великий – мʼясо → мйасо — it also can be as «short і», but itʼs very dialectic, because usually here is «iot» which is kinda «y» in «you» – яблуко → йаблуко — always as mentioned above «y», never «short і».
Very similar situation with «в» which when it doesnʼt start syllable then it sounds like «short u»: – вовк → воўк — first is close to [w] and second is close to short [u]. – твоя — same as above with «й».
About «та» — itʼs mostly poetical verstion of «і», but, yeah, often used in daily texts.
What about meaning of «й» itʼs usually «and», but in these cases also can means «even» or kinda of this.