Menu Close

Introduction to Russian Cyrillic

The following are memory aids and only represent an approximation of the Russian sound

Once you can remember each letter, you should go on to listen to each letter pronounced by a Russian speaker

Many get overwhelmed by a new writing system and stop at the beginning

These memory aids should help you get used to the letters and make connections between them and things you already know

Letters that are the same or very similar to the English counterparts

Аа is pronounced like English “ah”

Кк is pronounced like English “k”

Мм is pronounced like English “m”

Оо is pronounced like the “o” in English “or” but further back in the mouth (a bit like the “oh” when a Scot says “Oh, I see”)

C is pronounced like the letter “c” in “cent”, “city”, “censure”, “cement” or “century”

T is pronounced like English “t”

Letters that look like English letters but are pronounced differently

Вв is pronounced like English “v”. You can use the following to remember it. Betty vindictively bought very bright violet bells

Ее is pronounced like English “yeah”

Ёё is pronounced like English “yo” where the “o” is like the Russian O mentioned previously

Нн is pronounced like English “n”. Imagine a capital N where the middle slanted line is rotated until it is flat and you have cyrrilic Н

Рр is pronounced like Spanish “r”. It is a rolled R. Rita petted red parrots and read purple roombas

Уу is pronounced like English “oo”

Хх is pronounced like Scottish “ch” or Spanish “j” (in trabaja)

Letters that don’t look like English letters

Бб is pronounced like English “b”

Big black bears bit a bit off the bear’s big black ear

Imagine a b but with a bit bitten out of it

Гг is pronounced like English “g”

Г looks like a gun. Put your hands in the air Г

Дд is pronounced like English “d”

Д looks like a dome. Dave drove deer during dinner to the delightful dome

Жж is pronounced like English “s” in “pleasure”

It looks like a spider. The spider’s aversions to decisions lead to confusion and collusion

Зз is pronounced like English “z”

This looks a bit like a 3, so 1, 2, 3 and x, y, z

Ии is pronounced like English “ee” (which in IPA is /i/)

This looks like a backwards N and we all know that King Arthur was confounded by the Knights who say NI! So it looks like an N and sounds like the second letter in NI

Йй is pronounced like English “y”

Лл is pronounced like English “l”

The first part looks like a backwards capital L

Пп is pronounced like English “p”

Пп looks like a simplified city skyline. Peter picks a peck of pickled buildings

Фф is pronounced like English “f”

Ф looks like a lollypop. Fred fed the lollypop four fried fish

Цц is pronounced like English “ts”

Чч is pronounced like English “ch”

Ч looks like an upside down chair

Шш is pronounced like English “sh”

Just put a horizontal line at the top and they look like shutters

Shut the shutters

Щщ is pronounced like English the “sh” in “sheer”

Ыы looks like a chair on a bus. It sounds like the “i” in hit or the “e” in “roses”

The bus hit the roses

Ээ is pronounced like the “ei” in “heir” or the “ai” in “air”

Юю is pronounced like “you”

Яя is pronounced like “ya”

Palatalization markers

Palatalization is where consonants start to be pronounced using the palate. There are many sounds that can be pronounced there but for our purposes we can say that palatalization is where a sound like the “y” in “yellow” is added.

Ъъ prevents the previous consonant from becoming palatalized

Ьь palatalizes the previous consonant

Leave a Reply