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Russian (Русский язык)

Russian is an Eastern Slavic language closely related to Ukrainian and Belarusian with about 277 million speakers mainly in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. It is also spoken in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Finland, Mongolia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Israel, Afghanistan, the USA, Canada and a number of countries.

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 (русский алфавит)

Russian alphabet

Russian pronunciation

Russian pronunciation

There are a number of other transliteration schemes for Russian. The one shown here is the International Scholarly System, which has been used by linguists since the 19th century. Further details of this and other romanization systems can be found at:


  After Ж, Ш and Ц After Ч and Щ After all
other consonants
Word initially and after
Ь, Ъ or a vowel
Е е [ɛ] [e] [ʲe] [je]
Ё ё [o] (not used after Ц) [o] [ʲo] [jo]
Ю ю [u] - [ʲu] [ju]
Я я - - [ʲa] [ja]

Cursive Russian alphabet

This is a version of the cursive handwritten Russian alphabet. Some letters have different shapes when written in this way.

Cursive Russian alphabet

Older versions of the Russian alphabet

Russian alphabet (1750-1918)

This is the version of Cyrillic alphabet used between 1750 and 1917/18.

The version of Russian alphabet used between 1750 and 1917/18

Russian alphabet (pre-1750)

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 in the International Scholarly System of Romanization, and their numerical values.

Pre-1750 verison of the Russian alphabet

Sample text in Russian

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.

Cursive version

Cursive version of the Russian sample text


Vse ljudi roždajutsya svobodnymi i ravnymi v svoem dostoinstve i pravakh. Oni nadeleny razumom i sovest'ju i dolžny postupat' v otnošenii 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


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)


Information about the Russian language

Online Russian lessons

Russian Sets - news stories in Russian

Learn Russian

Information about Russian | Russian phrases | Russian idioms | Tower of Babel in Russian | Russian links | My Russian learning experiences | Russian learning materials

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet