Romanization of Russian: Wikis


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Romanization of the Russian alphabet is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet. Such transliteration is necessary for writing Russian names and other words in the non-Cyrillic letters.

Romanization is also essential for the input of Russian text into computers by users who either do not have a keyboard or word processor set up for input of Cyrillic, or else they are not capable of typing rapidly on the distinct Cyrillic keyboard. In the latter case, they would type using a system of transliteration fitted for their Keyboard layout, such as for English QWERTY keyboards, and then use an automated tool to convert the text into Cyrillic.


Systematic transliterations of Cyrillic to Latin

Note that many phonetic transcription systems are intended for readers of a particular language, as the letters of the Latin alphabet differ, and are used differently, in each language using the Latin script. For instance Russian Воронин = Voronin in English, Czech or Spanish, Voronine in French and Woronin in German or Polish.


Scientific transliteration

Scientific transliteration, also known as the International Scholarly System, is a system that has been used in linguistics since the 19th century. It is based on the Czech alphabet and formed the basis of the GOST and ISO systems.


GOST 16876 (1971)

Developed by the National Administration for Geodesy and Cartography at the USSR Council of Ministers, GOST 16876-71 has been in service for over 30 years and is the only romanization system that does not use diacritics. Replaced by GOST 7.79-2000.

GOST ST SEV 1362 (1978)

This standard is an equivalent of GOST 16876-71. Adopted as an official standard of the COMECON.

GOST 7.79 (2002)

GOST 7.79-2000 System of Standards on Information, Librarianship, and Publishing – Rules for Transliteration of the Cyrillic Characters Using the Latin Alphabet is the newest document on transliteration in the series of GOST standards. This standard is an adoption of ISO 9:1995 and is now the official standard of both Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).



ISO/R 9, established 1954 and updated 1968, was the adoption of the scientific transliteration by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It covers Russian and seven additional Slavic languages.


ISO 9:1995 is the current transliteration standard from ISO. It is based on its predecessor ISO/R 9:1968, which it deprecates; for Russian they only differ in the treatment of five modern letters. It is the first language-independent, univocal system of one character for one character equivalents (by the use of diacritics), which faithfully represents the original and allows for reverse transliteration for Cyrillic text in any contemporary language.

United Nations romanization system

The UNGEGN, a Working Group of the United Nations, in 1987 recommended a romanization system for geographical names, which was based on GOST 16876-71. It may be found in some international cartographic products.


American Library Association & Library of Congress (ALA-LC) romanization tables for Slavic alphabets (updated 1997) are used in North American libraries, and in the British Library since 1975.

The formal, unambiguous version of the system requires some diacritics and two-letter tie characters, which are often omitted in practice.

British Standard

British Standard 2979:1958 is the main system of the Oxford University Press,[1] and a variation is used by the British Library to catalogue publications acquired up to 1975 (the Library of Congress system is used for newer acquisitions).[2]


The BGN/PCGN system is relatively intuitive for anglophones to read and pronounce. In many publications a simplified form of the system is used to render English versions of Russian names, typically converting ë to yo, simplifying -iy and -yy endings to -y, and omitting apostrophes for ъ and ь. It can be rendered using only the basic letters and punctuation found on English-language keyboards: no diacritics or unusual letters are required, although the Interpunct character (·) can optionally be used to avoid some ambiguity.

This particular standard is part of the BGN/PCGN romanization system which was developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names and by the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use. The portion of the system pertaining to the Russian language was adopted by BGN in 1944, and by PCGN in 1947.

Transliteration table

Common systems for romanizing Russian
Cyrillic Scholarly ISO/R 9:1968 GOST 1971 UN; GOST 1983 ISO 9:1995; GOST 2002 ALA-LC British Standard BGN/PCGN
А а a a a a a a a a
Б б b b b b b b b b
В в v v v v v v v v
Г г g g g g g g g g
Д д d d d d d d d d
Е е e e e e e e e  e, ye*
Ё ё ë ë yo ë ë ë ë  ë, yë*
Ж ж ž ž zh ž ž zh zh zh
З з z z z z z z z z
И и i i i i i i i i
Й й j j j j j ĭ ĭ y
К к k k k k k k k k
Л л l l l l l l l l
М м m m m m m m m m
Н н n n n n n n n n
О о o o o o o o o o
П п p p p p p p p p
Р р r r r r r r r r
С с s s s s s s s s
Т т t t t t t t t t
У у u u u u u u u u
Ф ф f f f f f f f f
Х х x ch x h h kh kh kh
Ц ц c c  cz, c c c t͡s ts ts
Ч ч č č ch č č ch ch ch
Ш ш š š sh š š sh sh sh
Щ щ šč šč shh šč ŝ shch shch shch
Ъ ъ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ  ʺ ʺ ˮ
Ы ы y y y' y y y   ȳ (ui)** y
Ь ь ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʼ
Э э è ė eh è è ė é e
Ю ю ju ju yu ju û i͡u yu yu
Я я ja ja уа ja â i͡a ya ya
Pre-1918 letters
І і i i   i, i'†† ĭ ì ī
Ѳ ѳ f fh
Ѣ ѣ ě ě уе ě ě i͡e
Ѵ ѵ i yh
Pre-eighteenth century letters
Ѕ ѕ dz
Ѯ ѯ ks
Ѱ ѱ ps
Ѡ ѡ ô, o
Ѫ ѫ ǫ, u ǎ
Ѧ ѧ ę, ja
Ѭ ѭ jǫ, ju
Ѩ ѩ ję, ja

Table notes

GOST 7.79-2000
† It is recommended to use c before i, e, y, and j, and cz in all other cases.
†† Cyrillic і in Ukrainian and Bulgarian is always transliterated as Latin i, as well as in Old Russian and Old Bulgarian texts where it is usually used before vowels. In the rare case where it falls before a consonant (for example, in the word мiръ) it is transliterated with an apostrophe i'.
ъ is not romanized at the end of a word.
British Standard
Endings -й, -ий, -ый may be simplified to -y.
** The British Library uses ы = ui
* ye and are used to indicate iotation word-initially and after a vowel, й, ъ, or ь.

Roman alphabet

In a second sense the romanization of Russian may also indicate the introduction of a separate, independent instance of the Roman alphabet for writing the Russian language. Such an alphabet is not necessarily bound closely to the traditional Cyrillic orthography. The transition from Cyrillic to Latin has been proposed several times through history, but was never conducted on a large scale except for graphemic (e.g. volapuk) and phonemic (e.g. translit) adhoc transcriptions due to technological restrictions (e.g. ASCII, SMS, IRC).

Most seriously the possibility of adoption of the Latin alphabet for Russian language was discussed in 1929-1930 during the campaign of latinisation of the languages of the USSR, when a special commission was created to propose a Latinisation system for Russian.

See also


  1. ^ Oxford Style Manual (2003), “Slavonic Languages”, s 11.41.2, p 350. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^Searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogues of the British Library: guidelines and transliteration tables


External links


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