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Cyrillic alphabet

The Cyrillic alphabet is an alphabet used to write six Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian), as well as other languages of Russia and the former Soviet Union, such as Tatar (a Turkic language) and Udmurt[?] (a Finno-Ugric language).

The plan of the alphabet is derived from the Glagolitic alphabet, a 9th century uncial cursive[?] usually credited to two brothers, Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. But the shapes of the glyphs in the Cyrillic alphabet are mainly Greek letters, although some letters retain their Glagolitic forms. Cyril's contributions to the Glagolitic alphabet and hence to the Cyrillic alphabet are still recognised, as the latter is named after him.

Table of contents

As used in various languages

Sounds are indicated using SAMPA. These are only approximate indicators. While these languages by and large have a phonemic orthography, there are occasional exceptions -- most notably Russian ЕГО (meaning he), which is pronounced /jEvo/ instead of /jEgo/.

Note that spellings of names may vary, especially Y/J/I but also GH/G/H.)

Slavic languages

Russian

CapitalSmallNameSound
АаA/a/
БбBe/b/
ВвVe/v/
ГгGhe/g/
ДдDe/d/
ЕеYe/jE/
ЁёYo/jO/
ЖжZhe/Z/
ЗзZe/z/
ИиI/i/
ЙйShort I/j/
КкKa/k/
ЛлEl/l/
МмEm/m/
НнEn/n/
ОоO/o/
ПпPe/p/
РрEr/r/
СсEs/s/
ТтTe/t/
УуU/u/
ФфEf/f/
ХхHa/x/
ЦцTse/ts/
ЧчChe/tS/
ШшSha/S/
ЩщShcha/Sj/
ЪъHard Signno palatalization¹
ЫыYery/1/
ЬьSoft Sign/j/ -- palatalization¹
ЭэE/E/
ЮюYu/ju/
ЯяYa/ja/

Note on the Hard Sign and Soft Sign:

  1. When a iotated vowel (one whose sound begins with /j/) follows a consonant, the consonant will become palatalised (the /j/ sound will mix with the consonant). The Hard Sign will indicate that this does not happen, and the /j/ sound will appear only in front of the vowel. On the other hand, the Soft Sign will indicate this palatalisation does happen, even though the following vowel has no /j/ sound.

Ukrainian

Like Russian except:

  • Ghe is pronounced /Y/ and is called "Ge". Between Ge and De is the letter Ghe (Ґ, ґ), pronounced /g/, which looks like Ge but has an "upturn" pointing up from the right side of the top bar. (This letter was not officially used in the Soviet Union, so it doesn't appear in many Cyrillic fonts.)
  • Ye is pronounced /E/ and is called "E". Yo does not appear. Between E and Zhe is the letter Ye (Є, є), pronounced /jE/, which looks like the Russian letter E, only backwards. The Russian letter E does not appear.
  • I is pronounced /1/ and is called "Y". Accordingly, Short I is called "Short Y". Between Y and Short Y appear the letter I (І, і), pronounced /i/, which looks like the Latin letter I, and the letter Yi (Ї, ї), pronounced /ji/, which looks like I with a diaeresis (the same two dots that appear in the Russian letter Yo) above it. Yery does not appear.
  • The Hard Sign is not used; instead, its purpose is served by an apostrophe.

Belarusian

Like Russian except:

  • I looks like the Latin letter I (І, і). (But Short I still looks the same as in Russian!)
  • Between U and Ef is the letter Short U (Ў, ў), pronounced /w/, which looks like U with a breve (the same curve that appears in Short I).
  • Shcha does not appear.
  • The Hard Sign is not used; instead, its purpose is served by an apostrophe.

Bulgarian

Like Russian except:

  • Ye is pronounced /E/ and is called "E".
  • Yo does not appear.
  • The Russian letter E does not appear.
  • Shcha is pronounced /St/ and is called "Shta".
  • The Hard Sign is used for a vowel, /@/.
  • Yery does not appear.

Macedonian

Like Russian except:

  • Ye is pronounced /E/ and is called "E". Yo does not appear. The Russian letter E does not appear.
  • Between De and E is the letter Gje (Ѓ, ѓ), pronounced /gj/, which looks like Ghe with an acute accent (').
  • Between Ze and I is the letter Dze (Ѕ, ѕ), pronounced /dz/, which looks like the Latin letter S.
  • Short I does not appear. Between I and Ka is the letter Ej (Ј, ј), pronounced /j/, which looks like the Latin letter J.
  • Between El and Em is the letter Elj (Љ, љ), pronounced /lj/, which looks like El and the Soft Sign smashed together.
  • Between En and O is the letter Enj (Њ, њ), pronounced /nj/, which looks like En and the Soft Sign smashed together.
  • Between Te and U is the letter Kja (Ќ, ќ), pronounced /kj/, which looks like Ka with an acute accent (').
  • Between Che and Sha is the letter Dzhe (Џ, џ), pronounced /dZ/, which looks like Tse but with the downturn moved from the right side of the bottom bar to the middle of the bottom bar.
  • Sha is the last letter; the rest do not appear.

Serbian

Like Macedonian except:

  • Dze does not appear.
  • Kja is replaced by Tjerv (Ћ, ћ), which is pronounced /tj/ and looks like a lowercase Latin letter H with a bar. On the uppercase letter, the bar appears at the top; on the lowercase letter, the bar crosses the top half of the vertical line.
  • Gje is replaced by Djerv (Ђ, ђ), which is pronounced /dj/, and looks like Tjerv, except that the loop of the H curls farther and dips downwards.

Non-Slavic languages

These alphabets are generally modelled after Russian, but often bear striking differences, particularly when adapted for Caucasian languages. This article has no information about them yet.



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