Is this specific to the Lithuanian language? How come I've never seen an apostrophe at the end of a name like this (other than possessives)?

See Ilya M. Sobol' on Wikipedia.

  • Voting to close this because Googling "Russian transliteration" and then looking at his (Russian) name on that Wikipedia page would give you the answer.
    – alphabet
    Mar 12 at 4:35
  • I’m voting to close this question because it a simple matter of Russian transliteration.
    – Anton
    Mar 12 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


It's a diacritic marker

The key is in the original Russian name: Илья Меерович Соболь. The last letter there (ь) is a soft sign, which is sometimes represented by an apostrophe in transliterations. Ukrainian works similarly, except they often just use the apostrophe instead of a letter.

This same apostrophe is found in Kievan Rus' (Ки́евская Русь) and this etymology for бюллетень (Kazakh):

Borrowed from Russian бюллете́нь (bjulleténʹ), from French bulletin, from Italian bullettino, from Latin bulla.

To native speakers of English, it means nothing and may be confused with a regular apostrophe. Judging from the other people (and entities) by the name of "Соболь" on Wikipedia, it's usually omitted entirely.

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