Russian is an Eastern Slavic language spoken mainly in Russia and many other countries by about 260 million people, 150 million of whom are native speakers. Russian is an official language in Russian, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and in a number of other countries, territories and international organisations, including Tajikistan, Moldova, Gagauzia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and the UN. It is also recognised as a minority language in Romania, Finland, Norway, Armenia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The earliest known writing in Russia dates from the 10th century and was found at Novgorod. The main languages written on them in an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet were Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic. There are also some texts in Finnish, Latin and Greek.
Russian started appearing in writing regularly during the reign of Peter the Great (a.k.a. Peter I) (1672-1725) who introduced a revised alphabet and encouraged authors to use a literary style closer to their spoken language. The dialect of Moscow was used as the basis for written Russian.
Russian literature started to flower during the 19th century when Tolstoi, Dostoyevskii, Gogol and Pushkin were active. During the Soviet era knowledge of the Russian language was wide spread though the subjects authors could write about were restricted.
Russian alphabet learning game
Hear the Russian alphabet
There are a number of other transliteration schemes for Russian. The one shown here is the BGN/PCGN romanization system, which was developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and by the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN). It is designed to be relatively intuitive for English speakers to pronounce, and is also known as the British Standard.
|After Ж, Ш and Ц||After Ч and Щ||After all
|Word initially and after
Ь, Ъ or a vowel
|Ё ё||[o] (not used after Ц)||[o]||[ʲo]||[jo]|
This is a version of the cursive handwritten Russian alphabet. Some letters have different shapes when written in this way.
How to write the cursive Russian alphabet
This is the version of Cyrillic alphabet used between 1750 and 1917/18.
This is the version of Cyrillic alphabet used until 1750. The chart shows the letters, their names, the IPA transcription of their names, their Latin equivalents, and their numerical values.
These versions of the Russian alphabet are transliterated using the Scientific transliteration system, which is also known as the International Scholarly System, which has been used since the 19th century, and is the only one to include transliteration of the older letters.
Download alphabet charts for Russian (Excel)
Все люди рождаются свободными и равными в своем достоинстве и правах. Они наделены разумом и совестью и должны поступать в отношении друг друга в духе братства.
Vse lyudi rozhdayutsya svobodnymi i ravnymi v svoyem dostoinstve i pravakh. Oni nadeleny razumom i sovest'yu i dolzhny postupat' v otnoshenii drug druga v dukhe bratstva.
A recording of this text by Yuri from Belarus
A recording of this text by Max Bollinger
Russian voiceover audio by Max.Bollinger@Gmail.com
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
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Information about the Russian language
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Russian Sets - news stories in Russian
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