The Cyrillic alphabet is an alphabet used to write six natural Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian), other languages of the former Soviet Union (Turkic languages Azeri (1939-91), Chuvash, Tatar, Turkmen (1940-94), Uzbek (1940-98), Kyrgyz, Kazakh and Gagauz; Ossetic and Tajik (Indo-Iranian tongues); Moldovan (a Romance language); Udmurt, Saami and Mordvin (Finno-Ugric language); and Abaza, Abkhaz, Adygei, Aisor, Altai, Avar, Balkar, Bashkir, Buryat, Chechen (1940-1991), Chuvash, Chukchi, Dargwa, Dungan, Evenks, Kabardian, Kalmyk, Karachay, Karakalpak, Karelian, Khakas, Khanty, Komi, Koryak, Kumyk, Kurdish (living in former USSR), Lak, Lezghian, Mansi, Mari, Mongolian, Nanai, Nenets, Nogai, Oriat, Romany (in Serbia and Montenegro and former USSR), Selkup, Tabasaran, Tat, Tuva, Udekhe (Udege) and Yakut languages), as well as constructed languages Slovio and Lingua Franca Nova.

Table of contents
1 Cyrillic alphabet for Russian
2 As used in various languages
3 External links

Cyrillic alphabet for Russian

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.

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 him/his), 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


Capital Small NameSound
ЙйShort I/j/
ЪъHard Signno palatalization¹
ЬьSoft Sign/j/ -- palatalization¹

Notes on the Hard Sign and Soft Sign:

  1. When a iotated vowel (vowel whose sound begins with /j/) follows a consonant, the consonant will become palatalised (the /j/ sound will mix with the consonant), and the vowel's /j/ sound will not be heard independently. The Hard Sign will indicate that this does not happen, and the /j/ sound will appear only in front of the vowel. The Soft Sign will indicate the consonant should be palatised, but the vowel's /j/ sound will not mix with the palatisation of the consonant. The Soft Sign will also indicate that a consonant before another consonant or at the end of a word is palatised. Examples: та - ta; тя - tja; тья - tjja; тъя - tja; т - t; ть - tj.


Like Russian except:


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.


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.

Modern Serbian since 19th century

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 (Ђ, ђ), which is pronounced /dj/, and looks like Tjerv, except that the loop of the H curls farther and dips downwards.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.


Like Serbian except:

  • Between Ze and I is the letter Dze (Ѕ, ѕ), pronounced /dz/, which looks like the Latin letter S.
  • Djerv is replaced by Gje (Ѓ, ѓ), pronounced /gj/, which looks like Ghe with an acute accent (').
  • Tjerv is replaced by Kja (Ќ, ќ), pronounced /kj/, which looks like Ka with an acute accent (').

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.

External links