Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It all starts with the ABCs...

...or the А Б Вs, as the case may be.

I hate to admit this, but I've never really memorized the correct order of the Russian alphabet. I know all of the Cyrillic letters and roughly how they sound, but it would be a lot easier to find things in the dictionary if I actually memorized their order.

The Russian alphabet comprises 33 characters; 10 are vowels, 21 are consonants, and two are signs. Not signs like when Prince changed his name to a sign, but a "soft sign" and a "hard sign" that affect how other letters are pronounced.

Fortunately, there are some Russian letters that look and sound like English letters:
А-like the English a in "father"
К
М
О
С-like the English c in "cite"; never sounds like the English k; it is identified as "ess" like English s
T

Five down, 28 more to go.

Any fraternity brothers or sorority sisters out there? You'll appreciate how much these Russian letters resemble Greek letters:
г-sounds like the g in gamma
д-like the d in delta
л-like l in lamda
п-like p in pi (mmmm, pie)
р-a rolled r; looks like the Greek rho
ф-sounds like f, looks like phi
х-sounds like the ch in Loch Ness; looks like Greek chi

Brace yourself before moving on to the next set. These Russian letters look like English letters but have a completely different sound.
B-sounds like English v in vamp
H-sounds like English n in nap
E-usually sounds like ye, as in yes
Y- sounds like the "ooo" sound in boot

The rest of the letters are the cool-looking ones.
З, Б, И, Й, Ж, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ё, Ы, Э, Ю, Я
And finally, the two signs:
ъ-the soft sign
ь-the hard sign

It's hard for me to describe the correct sound of some of these letters. I highly recommend watching the Russian Alphabet video to hear them out loud.


As for how I'm ever going to learn the order, perhaps I'll have to sing myself to sleep each night with this little tune.

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