Russian Alphabet Game
This game is a fun, interactive way to learn the letters of the Russian Alphabet!
How to Play
You can see a full list of the letters and how they are pronounced on the main game page.
It's a good idea to familiarise yourself with them there, or find further letter and pronunciation info here before you play the game.
Click the Start ( > ) button to start the timer. Four randomly selected letters will pop up. The name of the target letter will show up in the golden game panel. Attempt to click the target letter on the first go to get a point. If you get it wrong, the name of the clicked letter will show up and you can try again until you get the target letter. If you don't get the target letter on the first go, you won't get a point. Play the Game!
Play in Single Letter (Hard) Mode
Default mode for this game is multiple choice, however you can play in Single Letter Mode if you want to really challenge yourself. In this mode, just one randomly selected letter will show up and you have to name it in the input box.
Just click on the "Single Letter (Hard) Mode" switch in the gold coloured section on the game page to enable this mode.Play the Game!
You can skip the letter if you don't know it by clicking the skip button ( >| ). A notification will come up with the letter's name so you know it for next time. Don't worry, skipped letters will come around again! Play the Game!
Play Long Game
By default the game time is five minutes, but if you want a bit of extra time to get all the letters out, you can enable the "Play Long Game" switch. Then you will get to play 10 minutes in default mode and 15 in Single Letter mode.
History of the Russian Alphabet
The Russian alphabet is written in a Cyrillic script. Cyrillic came about during the 9th century when the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon the Great had a new lettering system created to replace the existing Glagolitic script used in his country.
The Glagolitic script had been created by two Saints called Cyril and Methodius. Their disciples would be the ones to create the new Cyrillic script. This occurred in parallel with a rich literary movement in Bulgaria at the time called the Preslav Literary School and led to the translation of many Christian texts into Bulgarian and to their distribution across the Slavic world.
The new Cyrillic script used the letters of the Greek alphabet and added Glagolitic letters where a Greek letter could not be found to represent an existing Bulgarian phoneme. In fact, you will see similarities between the letters of the Greek alphabet and those of the Russian alphabet, so learning the two in tandem could enhance the learning experience. Such letters include Pi from the Greek alphabet and Pe from the Russian along with Gamma from the Greek which is similar to Ghe from the Russian.
Cyrillic is named in honour of Saint Cyril who is believed to have done most of the work in creating the Glagolitic alphabet, and has been adapted into various alphabets, one of those being the Russian alphabet.
The Glagolitic alphabet has been preserved over time by the Croatian clergy. In Croatia there exists a stone monument called The Baška Tablet with a Glagolitic inscription which is over 900 years old. It is located in the church of St Lucy on the island of Krk.
Adaptation into Russian
The Cyrillic script has been modified over time for use in writing various slavic languages. In Russia extraneous letters were removed from the script to fit with the Russian language and lower case was added to the previously only upper case (or Unical) script.
The Russian alphabet has changed over time according to the requirements of the language. A notable example of this is under Peter the Great who reformed the alphabet into what is known as the Civil Script. Some letters were removed and some added with Peter the Great reportedly contributing some new letters himself.
Sounds and Characters of the Modern Russian Alphabet
The modern Russian alphabet has 33 characters, of which twenty are consonants, eleven are vowels, and two are modifiers which affect the pronunciation of the letter that precedes them.
For English speakers, there are four categories of letters in the Russian alphabet:
- Russian letters that both look and sound similar to ones used in English
- Russian letters found that are found in English but are pronounced differently
- Russian characters that don't exist in English but have equivalent English letters
- Russian sounds that don't have an equivalent letter in English
along with 2 pronunciation symbols.
They are as follows:
Russian letters that both look and sound similar to ones used in English
А а - sounds like the "a" in "car" rather than the flat sounding "a" that occurs in "cat" or "bat"
К к - sounds like the "k" in "kit". As the “c” in Russian has an “s” sound (see below) this letter is used in place of a hard “c” in English words like “count”
М м - sounds like the "m" in moo
O o - If it is stressed, this letter sounds like the "o" in "more". When not stressed it is more like an "a"
Т т - sounds like the "t" in "tap"
Russian letters that are found in English but are pronounced differently
В в - sounds like the "v" in "vote". A "b" letter being pronounced as a "v" sound happens in Spanish too, so it may not be and entirely unfamiliar idea!
Е е - sounds like the "ye" in "yes"
Н н - sounds like the "n" in "not"
Р р - sounds like the "r" in "run", but it is rolled
С с - sounds like the "s" or the soft “c” in English found in words such as "see" and “cent”
У у - sounds like the hard "oo" in "boot" or "root" not soft one in “foot”
Х х - sounds like the "h" in "hello". However, this is often pronounced more like the "ch" in the Scottish "Loch" or German "Bach", or the mexican pronunciation of "x" in "Mexico"
Russian characters that don't exist in English but have equivalent English letters
Б б - equivalent to the "b" in "bat"
Г г - equivalent to the "g" in "got"
Д д - equivalent to the "d" in "dog"
З з - equivalent to the "z" in "zoo"
И и - equivalent to the "ee" in "free"
Л л - equivalent to the "l" in "love"
П п - equivalent to the "p" in "pot"
Ф ф - equivalent to the "f" in "fat"
Э э - equivalent to the "e" in "fed"
Russian sounds that don't have an equivalent letter in English
These sounds exist in English but aren't represented in written English with their own letter:
Ю ю - sounds like the English word “you”
Я я - sounds like the "ya" in "yard"
Ё ё - sounds like "yo" in "yonder"
Ж ж - Like "s" in "fusion". This is normally represented in English as “zh”, somewhat like a how an “s” is modified by a following “h” to form a “sh” sound, but using a “z”
Ц ц - like the "ts" sound in "sits" or "its"
Ч ч - sounds like the "ch" in "chirp" or "chip"
Ш ш - sounds like the "sh" in shin
Щ щ - the pronunciation of this letter is similar to Ш (“sh”) above, however it differs in where the tongue placed. It is palatalised meaning that the tongue is raised towards the hard palate, similar to the positioning of the tongue when making a “ch” sound in English, but while making a “sh” sound instead. There is a good discussion of this pronunciation here
Ы ы - like the short "i" sound in "bit"
Й й - This letter is used to form diphthongs. So "oй" is like the "oy" in "toy" or "boy"
These letters have no sound on their own, but are still considered letters. They are used to modify the letter preceding them:
Ъ ъ - The hard sign. This symbol is rarely used in modern Russian but it indicates a slight pause between syllables. It is only used before the letters "я", "е", "ё", and "ю"
Ь ь - The 'Soft Sign' softens the letter preceding it. Think of the "p" sound in the word "pew". (Try inflecting a very slight "y" sound onto the letter before it.)