The Cyrillic alphabet and the languages that use it.

!!About the alphabet itself

Cyrillic alphabet comes from the time of the Christianization of KievanRus and other Slavs under Byzantine influence. As legend says, it was created by two monks, Cyril and Methodius, to be used as the Slavic peoples' alphabet. In truth, they created the Glagolitic alphabet, which is the early version and looks ''very'' different from the known Cyrillic. The original Cyrillic was actually created by their Bulgarian disciple Saint Clement of Ohrid (Kliment Ohridski), who created new glyphs based mostly on Greek lettering styles of the era (with some letters drawn from Glagolitic and Coptic) and named it after his teacher Cyril. This original alphabet survives today as the alphabet of ceremonial books in the Russian Orthodox Church (in Russia, it is also used to evoke archaic style and all-Russianness, similar to how Germans use Fraktur or the Japanese use Hentaigana). However, the Slavic languages have changed significantly, and today we have several simplified Cyrillic alphabets, each tied to a specific language.

The major difference of Cyrillic from Latin script is that some Cyrillic letters change the way the previous letter is pronounced (which is actually quite common in various scripts using Latin too, but as they are much more varied, hardly anyone notices), but all changes are somehow systematic — unlike, say, as it it in English.[[note]]Note that this paragraph actually describes writing system of ''Russian'', other languages might differ significantly[[/note]]. There are a few exceptions from pronouncing rules, but even they may still be pronounced as written without misunderstanding.

The major inherited problem with Cyrillic scripts is that it shares very few letters with Latin scripts, or, more precisely, in many cases it uses the same glyphs to denote different sounds: for example, Cyrillic letter "Р/р" corresponds not to the Latin "P/p", but the Greek rho, meaning "R/r". Thus, it requires its own 66 or more codepoints in character encoding. In the past, when single-byte encodings were used, there were at least three incompatible character encodings for Russian Cyrillic in active use and some for other languages as well.

Even now, 'translit', i.e. direct transliteration of Cyrillic letters with some groups of Latin letters, is in active use when normal Cyrillic is hard to use. Another historical note is that Cyrillic appears to not be the first Slavic writing system. Before it and Glagolitic alphabet, early pagan Slavs apparently used their own indigenous writing system, known as "cherty i rezy", "strokes and incisions", after the offhand mention in a book by the Bulgarian monk and writer Hrabr.

Unfortunately, so little remained from the pre-Christian Slavic culture that now there are no undoubted specimens of that writing, which some linguists presume to be runic in nature and used mostly in pagan religious rituals, while others speculate that it was much more widespread and used as a common writing, being syllabic[[note]] They note the "full-sound" nature of early Slavic languages such as Old Church Slavonic, where every syllable was open, which were easy to write with such a syllabary[[/note]] and close in nature to the early Greek "linear scripts" or Japanese ''kana''.

The Slavic world has historically been religiously divided between Rome and Constantinople, and as a result, the choice of alphabet often has religious roots, with Latin characters preferred in majority-Catholic countries and Cyrillic in majority-Orthodox. This is most evident in the former Yugoslav territories, where Catholic Croatia and Slovenia and majority-Muslim Bosnia prefer Latin alphabets, while largely-orthodox Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia use Cyrillic. (Majority-Muslim Kosovo uses Latin for Albanian and Cyrillic for Serbian.) Since Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, and Slovene all form part of a single West South Slavic dialect continuum, the situation is similar to that of the Hindustani languages, where Hindi is written in Devanagari, Urdu in Perso-Arabic, and dialects from outside South Asia generally use the Latin alphabet. Outside the area, the majority-Catholic countries of Poland[[note]]There is a certain irony in the fact that Poland has possibly the most conservative phonology of all Slavic languages (especially nasal vowels that have disappeared almost everywhere else), and is therefore the closest fit with the original Cyrillic alphabet, but has never used it in any form.[[/note]], the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, as well as Slavic communities in Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Italy, use the Latin alphabet, while Orthodox Russia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria use Cyrillic; Romania is an exception; they speak a Romance language but are majority Orthodox, and switched from Cyrillic to Latin in the middle of the 19th century, while neighboring (formerly Soviet) Moldova speaks a dialect of Romanian but used Cyrillic up until the breakup of the USSR. Belarus has generally used Cyrillic, but has had significant Polish influence over its history (its western half was part of Poland for much of the 19th and early 20th century) and several forms of latinized Belarusian exist.

See also TheBackwardsR, which often employs Latin letters to represent Cyrillic ones in order to create a mock-Slavic writing style. (Nothing to do with an international chain of toy megastores.)

[[folder:Languages that use Cyrillic]]
!!Belorussian

A fun thing: despite the name, in most of the UsefulNotes/{{Belarus}}, Russian is the native language. Most people speak it both at home and in official settings, Belorussian being now mostly associated with poor farmers and the like, despite the government stating that both languages are official. In fact, up until the beginning of the 20th century Belorussian wasn't considered a language on its own at all, but was seen as a particularly rustic (and Polonized) dialect of Russian. One of the constant points of ridicule about Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko is that being a country bumpkin he speaks neither Russian, nor Belorussian, but rather a common pidgin known as ''trasyanka'', which is widespread in the rural areas. Since the beginning of the 20th century Belorussian nationalists try to reinvent it as an elite language, but given that their chief activity seems to be more [[WeAreStrugglingTogether squabbling with each other]], the result is nowhere in sight, and their involvement actually seems to make the situation worse: now there are two separate literary dialects, and ''three'' writing systems, two using Cyrillic and third Latin.

!!Bulgarian

UsefulNotes/{{Bulgaria}} was a member of the WarsawPact during the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, but is now a member of {{NATO}} and UsefulNotes/TheEuropeanUnion (as are the rest of the "buffer states"). It was also the country where the Cyrillic alphabet was created and first taught and used. It is also somewhat mutually intelligible with Russian and uses a pretty similar subset of wider Cyrillic.

!!Romanian (particularly Moldovan)

Romanian as spoken in the former Moldavian SSR, now the independent country of Moldova, with a new orthography imposed to justify a Soviet landgrab in TheThirties. Post-Soviet {{Moldova}} uses almost the same Latin alphabet as standard Romanian, with one or two minor differences. Cyrillic Moldovan is still used in the breakaway province of Transnistria, though, as it is generally Russia-aligned.

Since Romanian evolved among Greek and Slavic influences, the use of the Cyrillic alphabet had a historical precedent; until the 1860s, standard Romanian used its own, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_Cyrillic_alphabet somewhat archaic form of Cyrillic.]] The Moldovan form, however, is more of a straight transliteration of the language into Russian Cyrillic with no direct relationship to the original Romanian style. The closely related Aromanian language, spoken mainly in Greece and other countries of the southern Balkans, was written in modifications of the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets until adopting an alphabet loosely based on modern Romanian Latin and Latinized Macedonian in 1997.

!!Russian

There is not just one Russian accent (dialects would be the better word), but two or three:
* Northern Russian
* Southern Russian- identifiable by "grib" (mushroom) being pronounced "hrib". The accent of Mikhail Gorbachev.
* Moscow/St. Petersburg- "Standard" Russian.
** Actually, these have significant differences. Phonetically, St. Petersburg dialect is "cleaner", with fewer reductions. There are also some lexical peculiarities exclusive to St. Petersburg; e.g., curb is known as "porebrik" in St. Petersburg, and as "bordjur" in the rest of Russia. St. Petersburg natives are quite proud of these.
*** Not entirely accurate. There are a number of lexical differences between Moscow and St. Petersburg, like the "porebrik"/"bordjur" one, but for the rest of the country it varies. Most regions use Moscow's names for some things and St. Petersburg's for others.

!!Serbian

The language of the country that is the successor state to the former Yugoslavia and which appears to be about to lose yet more territory to the new Kosovo/Kosova. The language was formerly collected together with Croatian and Bosnian (which use the Latin alphabet) as Serbo-Croat, but they are now separated by linguists — though, as it was noted many times, a language is a dialect with an Army and a Navy, so their separation is seen by many as mostly a political move. All three language remain mutually intelligible anyway.

The modern Serbian alphabet was created in 1818 by linguist Vuk Karadžić, and the Gaj alphabet used by Croatian and Slovene and created two decades later by Ljudevit Gaj corresponds with it almost exactly. It's functionally somewhat simplified compared to the Russian form, with fewer ligatures and some specifically Serbian letters, as well as the addition of the Latin J to replace letters like Я, Ю, and Й. The cursive style is also very different from Russian, and the two hands can frequently be mutually illegible without some training.

Due to the fact that Serbians played a major part in the horrors of the Balkans Wars, Serbia is a common place from which to source villains and therefore the language comes with it.

One of the more notable instances of the use of the Serbian language in fiction is the revelation of Nina Myers as TheMole in ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]''. Nina uses Serbian (to delay the revelation a few seconds longer) in her conversation with Victor Drazen (the Serbian spelling is Viktor). The on-screen subtitles have her stating "It's Yelena", her CodeName. Serbians would spell it "Jelena", as in the tennis player Jelena Janković. The writers probably didn't want the American audience thinking it sounded like "Gel-an-ah".

Speaking of Viktor Drazen and his family, their names are a case of artistic license since Drazen is a first name, not a family name (Drazenić or Drazenović would be more likely); his wife Elena should be Jelena; Andre should be Andrej and Alexis should be Aleksej, and those two names would even so only be used if the parents were huge fans of Russian literature.

!!Ukrainian

Ukrainian is very similar to Russian and people from the different countries can have conversation, but there are differences, sometimes even in basic words. Ukrainian itself has dialects. The eastern one is more like Russian, and in border regions of Russia and Ukraine a mix of Russian and Ukrainian known as ''surzhyk'' is in active use.

Not everyone in Ukraine speaks Ukrainian at home, although nearly everyone knows it. The rough division is a line running through Kyiv/Kiev and very closely matches the voting patterns in the 2004 Presidential Election (with Ukrainian users tending to vote for Yushchenko and Russian users for Yanukovych).

!!Mongolian

Mongolia's official writing system for the Mongolian language has been Cyrillic script since the 1940s. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_writing_systems#Cyrillic_script). Note that the Mongolian language is written in more traditional scripts in other places, such as the Inner Mongolia region of China. In Mongolia itself, the traditional alphabet is being reintroduced mainly for national pride.

!!Others

In addition to these, there are several languages in Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union that wound up with a Cyrillic orthography because they did not have an alphabet (much like almost all Native American languages have a Latin orthography). Several other nationalities in Russia and the former Soviet Republics (Azeris, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Turkmens, Tatars, Chechens, etc.) had preexisting (usually Perso-Arabic) orthographies replaces with Cyrillic ones during the Soviet era, although most of them outside Russia are phasing them out.

Please note that Czech, Slovak, Polish, Lithuanian, and a lot of other Slavic and other Eastern European languages do ''not'' use Cyrillic alphabet, and sometimes even assuming that they can read it could be offensive.
[[/folder]]

!![[SpellMyNameWithAnS Andrey or Andrei]]- Transliteration Issues

Because not all the letters directly translate into English sounds, you get various approaches to Cyrillic-Latin transliteration. This is why you get the Project 955 missile submarines either spelt "Borey" or "Borei" in English.

There are a number of different systems, such as that used by the Library of Congress.

You will sometimes get the words, in either alphabet given those little line accents called "udareniye". These aren't actually used in writing, they're just pronunciation aids.
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