Teach yourself to read Russian in 33 minutes

Preface | Before you go on | Origin of Russian Alphabet | Introduction | Table | Comments | Conclusion | Exercises

 Comments to the above Table

  1, 2, 3. a b v

alpha + beta   alpha + beta = alphabet. Russian name for "alphabet" consists of old Slavonic names of the first two letters   azbuka   (azbuka).

  2. b

There is no such sound in Greek (or B and V are considered as two variants of the same sound). In modern Greek     is a transliteration of B in foreign words. A special letter    was introduced into Old Slavonic alphabet to represent this sound.

  3, 6, 7, 32, 33. v e jo ju ja

  There are no strict rules for transliteration. Here I presented two major "accents". My Russian friend from Germany often uses sch instead of sh. In Russian passports traditionally is used French variant (e.g. ch instead of sh).

  5. d

  In handwritten print:

  6, 7, 32, 33.

  are the only letters of Russian alphabet with two distinct variants of pronunciation.

2.   Only in the beginning of a syllable (which can consist of one letter):
  Examples:   (food) = yeda, but (forest) = les.

Now you can pronounce correctly = dlin-no-she-ye-ye. A common mistake is to use the second variant instead of the first one. Probably it is because the second variant coincides with the names of these letters. Compare with English: "w" is never pronounced as "double-u" (except www).

  7. jo

  There is a stupid tendency (especially in newspapers) to drop the dots: it does not save much time in typing (words with Yo are quite rare) but introduces a lot of confusion for kids and foreigners.

  9. z

  Old variant also was: Z

 13. L

  Old variant and still handwritten print is: L

 15. n

  Old variant was: N

 18. r

  English and Spanish r are also OK (any r does not change the meaning of Russian words)

 23. h

  English-speaking linguists believe that this Russian letter represents the sound that differs from English "h". Therefore they use "kh" for its transliteration. Ordinary people do not know this and try to pronounce both letters. I think, that the difference is less than the natural variety of these sounds in both languages.

 26-27. sh shch

  Borrowed from Hebrew? Compare with letter Shin:  . Although these letters were in Glagolic alphabet too.

 28, 30. soft sign hard sign

  Transliteration is the same because of the absence of appropriate symbols and small difference in pronunciation (soft/hard) of the preceding consonant. More important that they modify the pronunciation of subsequent (see above):    (secret) = sek-ret, but (meeting) = syezd.

 I am sorry to say, but sometimes the soft sign changes the meaning, for example: - ate, - fir. In Serb there are special letters for combination of consonants with the soft sign: - further toward to "One sound - one letter").

 29. y

  Extremely rare the difference in pronunciation between and makes the difference in meaning: - soap, - nice. This is similar to the difference: grid - greed.

 33. ja

  The old variant was: . Later it was replaced with the inverted Latin letter R for simplicity.

 34-37. these letters do not correspond any Russian letter and they only display the author's knowledge of Greek alphabet. Although these letters were kept in the Russian alphabet till the reform of 1919.

Table
Conclusion

Rule

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