Romanization of Russian

Romanization of Russian is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic script into the Latin script.

As well as its primary use for citing Russian names and words in languages which use a Latin alphabet, romanization is also essential for computer users to input Russian text who either do not have a keyboard or word processor set up for inputting Cyrillic, or else are not capable of typing rapidly using a native Russian keyboard layout (JCUKEN). 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.

Pavel Datsyuk 2016
Pavel Datsyuk (Cyrillic: Павел Дацюк), an NHL and international ice hockey player, wearing a sweater with Latin characters
Udaltsova Street sign
A street sign in Russia with the name of the street shown in Cyrillic and Latin characters

Systematic transliterations of Cyrillic to Latin

There are a number of incompatible standards for the Romanization of Russian Cyrillic, with none of them having received much popularity and in reality transliteration is often carried out without any uniform standards.[1]

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.


OST 8483

OST 8483 was the first Soviet standard on romanization of Russian, introduced in 16 October 1935.[2]

GOST 16876-71 (1973)

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.

ST SEV 1362 (1978)

This standard is an equivalent of GOST 16876-71 and was adopted as an official standard of the COMECON.

GOST 7.79-2000 (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 an adoption of ISO 9:1995. It is the official standard of both Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

GOST 52535.1-2006 (2006)

GOST 52535.1-2006 Identification cards. Machine readable travel documents. Part 1. Machine readable passports is an adoption of an ICAO standard for travel documents. It was used in Russian passports for a short period during 2010–2013 (see below). The standard was substituted in 2013 by GOST R ISO/IEC 7501-1-2013, which does not contain romanization, but directly refers to the ICAO romanization (see below).

Street and road signs

Names on street and road signs in the Soviet Union were romanized according to GOST 10807-78 (tables 17, 18), which was amended by newer Russian GOST R 52290-2004 (tables Г.4, Г.5), the romanizations in both the standards are practically identical.



ISO/R 9, established in 1954 and updated in 1968, was the adoption of the scientific transliteration by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It covers Russian and seven other 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, the two are the same except in the treatment of five modern letters. ISO 9:1995 is the first language-independent, univocal system of one character for one character equivalents (by the use of diacritics) that 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 the 1983 version of GOST 16876-71. It may be found in some international cartographic products.


American Library Association and 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,[3] and a variation was used by the British Library to catalogue publications acquired up to 1975 (the Library of Congress system is used for newer acquisitions).[4]


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 (·) may be used to avoid 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 of the names in Russian passports

Before 1997

In Soviet international passports, transliteration was based on French rules (but without diacritics), so all of the names were transliterated in a French-style system.[5]


In 1997, with the introduction of new Russian passports, a diacritic-free English-oriented system was established by the Ministry of Internal Affairs,[5][6] but this system was also abandoned in 2010.


In 2006, GOST 52535.1-2006 was adopted, which defines technical requirements and standards for Russian international passports and introduces its own system of transliteration. In 2010, the Federal Migratory Service of Russia approved Order No. 26,[7] stating that all personal names in the passports issued after 2010 must be transliterated using GOST 52535.1-2006. Because of some differences between the new system and the old one, citizens who wanted to retain the old version of a name's transliteration, especially which had been in the old pre-2010 passport, might apply to the local migratory office before acquiring a new passport. The standard was abandoned in 2013.

After 2013

In 2013, Order No. 320[8] of the Federal Migratory Service of Russia came into force. It states that all personal names in the passports must be transliterated using the ICAO system, which is published in Doc 9303 "Machine Readable Travel Documents, Part 3". This system differs from the GOST 52535.1-2006 system in two things: ц is transliterated into ts (as in pre-2010 systems), ъ is transliterated into ie (a novelty).

Transliteration table

Common systems for romanizing Russian
Cyrillic Scholarly


ISO/R 9:1968 GOST 16876-71(1);
UNGEGN (1987)
GOST 16876-71(2) ISO 9:1995; GOST 7.79-2000(A) GOST 7.79-2000(B) Road
ALA-LC BS 2979:1958 BGN/PCGN Passport (1997) Passport (2010) Passport (2013), ICAO
А а a a a a a a a a a a a a a
Б б b b b b b b b b b b b b b
В в v v v v v v v v v v v v v
Г г g g g g g g g g g g g g g
Д д d d d d d d d d d d d d d
Е е e e e e e e e (ye)⁵ e e e (ye)¹² e (ye)¹⁴ e e
Ё ё ë ë ë jo ë yo e (ye, yo)⁶ ë ë ë (yë)¹² e (ye)¹⁴ e e
Ж ж ž ž ž zh ž zh zh zh zh zh zh zh zh
З з z z z z z z z z z z z z z
И и i i i i i i i i i i i i i
Й й j j j j j j y ĭ ĭ y ¹³ y ¹⁵ i i
К к k k k k k k k k k k k k k
Л л l l l l l l l l l l l l l
М м m m m m m m m m m m m m m
Н н n n n n n n n n n n n n n
О о o o o o o o o o o o o o o
П п p p p p p p p p p p p p p
Р р r r r r r r r r r r r r r
С с s s s s s s s s s s s s s
Т т t t t t t t t t t t t t t
У у u u u u u u u u u u u u u
Ф ф f f f f f f f f f f f f f
Х х x (ch) ch h kh h x kh kh kh kh kh kh kh
Ц ц c c c c c cz (c)³ ts t͡s ts ts ¹³ ts tc ts
Ч ч č č č ch č ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch
Ш ш š š š sh š sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh
Щ щ šč šč ŝ shh ŝ shh shch shch shch shch ¹³ shch shch shch
Ъ ъ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ⁷ ” (")¹⁰ ˮ ʺ ie
Ы ы y y y y y y' y y ȳ (ui)¹¹ y ¹³ y y y
Ь ь ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ʹ ’ (') ʼ
Э э è è ė eh è e' e ė é e ¹³ e e e
Ю ю ju ju ju ju û yu yu i͡u yu yu yu iu iu
Я я ja ja ja ja â ya ya i͡a ya ya ya ia ia
Pre-1918 letters
І і i i i ì i (i’)⁴ ī ī
Ѳ ѳ f (th)¹ fh
Ѣ ѣ ě ě ě ě ye i͡e ê
Ѵ ѵ i (ü)¹ yh
Pre-18th century letters
Є є (j)e¹ - ē
Ѥ ѥ je¹ - i͡e
Ѕ ѕ dz (ʒ)¹ - js ż
u - ū
Ѡ ѡ ô (o)¹ - ō
Ѿ ѿ ôt (ot)¹ - ō͡t
Ѫ ѫ ǫ (u)¹ - ǎ ǫ
Ѧ ѧ ę (ja)¹ - ę
Ѭ ѭ (ju)¹ - i͡ǫ
Ѩ ѩ (ja)¹ - i͡ę
Ѯ ѯ ks - k͡s
Ѱ ѱ ps - p͡s
Cyrillic Scholarly ISO/R 9:1968 GOST 1971(1);
UNGEGN (1987)
GOST 1971(2) ISO9:1995; GOST 2002(A) GOST 2002(B) Road
ALA-LC BS 2979:1958 BGN/PCGN Passport (1997) Passport (2010) Passport (2013), ICAO

Table notes

¹ Some archaic letters are transcribed in different ways.
GOST 16876-71 and GOST 7.79-2000
³ It is recommended to use c before i, e, y, j, but cz in all other cases.
⁴ In GOST 7.79-2000 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 that it falls before a consonant (for example, in the word мiръ), it is transliterated with an apostrophe i’.
Street and road signs
⁵ е = ye initially, after vowels, and after ъ and ь.
⁶ ё
= ye after consonants except ч, ш, щ, ж (ch, sh, shch, zh);
= e after ч, ш, щ, ж (ch, sh, shch, zh);
= yo initially, after vowels, and after ъ and ь.
⁷ ъ is not romanized at the end of a word.
British Standard
⁸ Diacritics may be omitted when back-transliteration is not required.
⁹ тс is romanized t-s to distinguish it from ц = ts.
¹⁰ ъ is not romanized at the end of a word.
¹¹ The British Library uses ы = ui, ый = uy.
¹² The digraphs ye and are used to indicate iotation at the beginning of a word, after vowels, and after й, ъ or ь.
¹³ An optional middle dot (·) may be used to signify:
  • non-digraphs (тс = t·s, шч = sh·ch);
  • = й before а, у, ы, э (йа = y·a, йу = y·u, йы = y·y, йэ = y·e);
  • = ы before а, у, ы, э (ыа = y·a, ыу = y·u, ыы = y·y, ыэ = y·e);
  • ·y = ы after vowels;
  • ·e = э after consonants except й.
Passport (1997)
¹⁴ ye after ь.
¹⁵ ий is either iy or y, and ый is either y or yy.

Latin script

In a second sense, the romanization of Russian may also indicate the introduction of a dedicated Latin alphabet for writing the Russian language. Such an alphabet would not necessarily bind closely to the traditional Cyrillic orthography. The transition from Cyrillic to Latin has been proposed several times through history (especially during the Soviet era), but was never conducted on a large scale, except for graphemic (such as the Volapuk) and phonemic (such as translit) ad hoc transcriptions.

The most serious possibility of adoption of the Latin alphabet for the Russian language was discussed in 1929–30 during the campaign of latinisation of the languages of the USSR, when a special commission was created to propose a latinisation system for Russian.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Ivanov, L. Streamlined Romanization of Russian Cyrillic. Contrastive Linguistics. XLII (2017) No. 2. pp. 66-73. ISSN 0204-8701
  2. ^ Vinogradov, N. V. (1941). Karty i atlasy (in Russian). p. 44. ISBN 978-5-4475-6305-9.
  3. ^ Waddingham, Anne (2014). New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide. Oxford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-19-957002-7.
  4. ^ "Search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue". British Library. 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b (in Russian) Ministry of Internal Affairs. "Order No. 310 (26 May 1997)".
  6. ^ (in Russian) Ministry of Internal Affairs (22 January 2004). "Order No. 1047 (31 December 2003)" (3386). Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
  7. ^ (in Russian) Federal Migratory Service (5 March 2010). "Order No. 26 (3 February 2010)" (5125). Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
  8. ^ (in Russian) Federal Migratory Service (27 March 2013). "Order No. 320 (15 October 2012)" (6041). Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
  9. ^ Lunt, Horace Grey (2001). Old Church Slavonic Grammar (7 ed.). Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 17–18. ISBN 3-11-016284-9.
  10. ^ Timberlake, Alan (2004). A Reference Grammar of Russian. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521772921.
  11. ^ "О латинизации русского алфавита"


External links

Anti-Bolshevik propaganda

Anti-Bolshevik propaganda was created in opposition to the events on the Russian political scene. The Bolsheviks were members of a wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party which came to power during the October Revolution phase of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The word "Bolshevik" (большевик) means "one of the majority" in Russian and is derived from the word "большинство" (transliteration: bol'shinstvo, see also Romanization of Russian) which means "majority" in English. The group was founded at the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party when Vladimir Lenin’s followers gained majority on the party’s central committee and on the editorial board of the newspaper Iskra. Their opponents were the Mensheviks, whose name literally means "Those of the minority" and is derived from the word меньшинство ("men'shinstvo", English: minority).

On 7 November 1917, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (SFSR or RSFSR; Russian: Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика, transliteration: Rossiyskaya Sovetskaya Federativnaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika) was proclaimed. The Bolsheviks changed their name to Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in March 1918; to All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in December 1925; and to Communist Party of the Soviet Union in October 1952.

BGN/PCGN romanization

BGN/PCGN romanization refers to the systems for romanization (transliteration into the Latin script) and Roman-script spelling conventions adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN).

The systems have been approved by the BGN and the PCGN for application to geographic names, but they have also been used for personal names and text in the US and the UK.

Details of all the jointly approved systems are outlined in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency publication Romanization Systems and Policies (2012), which superseded the BGN 1994 publication Romanization Systems and Roman-Script Spelling Conventions. Romanization systems and spelling conventions for different languages have been gradually introduced over the course of several years. An incomplete list of BGN/PCGN systems and agreements covering the following languages is given below (the date of adoption is given in the parentheses).

BGN/PCGN romanization of Russian

BGN/PCGN romanization system for Russian is a method for romanization of Cyrillic Russian texts, that is, their transliteration into the Latin alphabet as used in the English language.

There are a number of systems for romanization of Russian, but the BGN/PCGN system is relatively intuitive for anglophones to pronounce. It is part of the larger set of BGN/PCGN romanizations, which includes methods for 29 different languages. It was developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and by the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN). The portion of the system pertaining to the Russian language was adopted by BGN in 1944, and by PCGN in 1947.

This romanization of Russian can be rendered by using only the basic letters and punctuation found on English-language keyboards. No diacritics or unusual letters are required, but the interpunct character (·) is optionally used to avoid some ambiguity.

In many publications, a simplified form of the system is used to render English versions of Russian names, which typically converts ë to yo, simplifies -iy and -yy endings to -y and omits apostrophes for ъ and ь.

The following table describes the system and provides examples.

Belarusian alphabet

The Belarusian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script and is derived from the alphabet of Old Church Slavonic. It has existed in its modern form since 1918 and has 32 letters. See also Belarusian Latin alphabet and Belarusian Arabic alphabet.

Bulgarian alphabet

The Bulgarian alphabet is used to write the Bulgarian language.

Delovõje Vedomosti

Delovõje Vedomosti (Estonian romanization of Russian: Деловые Ведомости, English: Business News) is a Russian-language financial newspaper published in Estonia, founded in 1996.

Delovõje Vedomosti is a weekly newspaper, which offers mostly content related to economy, but also covers politics, culture and entertainment.

The newspaper's first issue was released on 27 November 1996. It is published by AS Äripäev, which is owned by the Swedish media group Bonnier.

I (Cyrillic)

I (И и; italics: И и) is a letter used in almost all Cyrillic alphabets.

It commonly represents the close front unrounded vowel /i/, like the pronunciation of ⟨i⟩ in "machine", or the near-close near-front unrounded vowel /ɪ/, like the pronunciation of ⟨i⟩ in "bin".

Informal romanizations of Cyrillic

Informal or ad hoc romanizations of Cyrillic have been in use since the early days of electronic communications, starting from early e-mail and bulletin board systems. Their use faded with the advances in the Russian internet that made support of Cyrillic script standard, but resurfaced with the proliferation of instant messaging, SMS and mobile phone messaging in Russia.

List of Russian steam locomotive classes

This List of Russian steam locomotive classes includes those built both before and during the Soviet era. They are to the gauge of 5 ft (1,524 mm) unless otherwise stated. Some locomotives originally used in Poland during the period of the Russian Empire were built to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge and later converted to 5 ft gauge. Class letters are shown in Cyrillic characters, followed by romanized characters in the next column. For more information, see Romanization of Russian. The main source for this list is Fleming and Price.


Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and transcription, for representing the spoken word, and combinations of both. Transcription methods can be subdivided into phonemic transcription, which records the phonemes or units of semantic meaning in speech, and more strict phonetic transcription, which records speech sounds with precision.

Romanization of Belarusian

Romanization or Latinization of Belarusian is any system for transliterating written Belarusian from Cyrillic to the Latin.

Some of the standard systems for romanizing Belarusian:

BGN/PCGN romanization of Belarusian, 1979 (United States Board on Geographic Names and Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use), which is the USA and Great Britain prevailing system for romanising of geographical information

British Standard 2979 : 1958

Scientific transliteration, or the International Scholarly System for linguistics

ALA-LC romanization, 1997 (American Library Association and Library of Congress)

ISO 9:1995, which is also Belarusian state standard GOST 7.79–2000 for non-geographical information

Instruction on transliteration of Belarusian geographical names with letters of Latin script, which is Belarusian state standard for geographical information, adopted by State Committee on land resources, geodetics and cartography of Belarus, 2000 and recommended for use by the Working Group on Romanization Systems of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). It was significantly revised in 2007.See also: Belarusian Latin alphabet.

Romanization of Cyrillic

The Romanization of Cyrillic is either the transliteration (letter-mapping) of text from Cyrillic script into Latin script or the transcription (sound-mapping) of speech directly into Latin script (to replace a particular Cyrillic-based alphabet with a new Latin-based alphabet). The alphabets, phonologies, and standards vary, however, from one language to another. See more specifically the following:


Romanization of Belarusian

Romanization of Bulgarian

Romanization of Kyrgyz

Romanization of Macedonian

Romanization of Russian

Romanization of Serbian

Romanization of Ukrainian

Scientific transliteration of Cyrillic

Romanization of Macedonian

The Romanization of Macedonian is the transliteration of text in the Macedonian language from the Macedonian Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet. Romanization can be used for various purposes, such as rendering of proper names in foreign contexts, or for informal writing of Macedonian in environments where Cyrillic is not easily available. Official use of Romanization by Macedonian authorities is found, for instance, on road signage and in passports. Several different codified standards of transliteration currently exist and there is widespread variability in practice.

Semen (disambiguation)

Semen may refer to:

Semen, the organic fluid also known as seminal fluid

Semen (wasp), a wasp genus in the subfamily Encyrtinae

Semen Gresik, the largest cement producing company in Indonesia

Semen (name):

Semen or Xemen, a medieval Basque and neighbour given name

a popular Ukrainian given name (Семен)

a romanization of Russian given names Семён (Semyon) or Симон (Simon)

Semen Korsakov

Short I

For the sound in English sometimes represented by ĭ, see near-close near-front unrounded vowel.Short I or Yot (Й й; italics: Й й) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It is made of the Cyrillic letter И with a breve.

Short I represents the palatal approximant /j/ like the pronunciation of ⟨y⟩ in yesterday.

Depending on the romanization system in use and the Slavic language that is under examination, it can be romanized as ⟨y⟩ (the most common), ⟨j⟩, ⟨i⟩ or ⟨ĭ⟩ (probably the least common).

For more details, see romanization of Russian, romanization of Ukrainian and romanization of Bulgarian.


Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus trans- + liter-) in predictable ways (such as α → a, д → d, χ → ch, ն → n or æ → ae).

For instance, for the Modern Greek term "Ελληνική Δημοκρατία", which is usually translated as "Hellenic Republic", the usual transliteration to Latin script is "Ellēnikḗ Dēmokratía", and the name for Russia in Cyrillic script, "Россия", is usually transliterated as "Rossiya".

Transliteration is not primarily concerned with representing the sounds of the original but rather with representing the characters, ideally accurately and unambiguously. Thus, in the above example, λλ is transliterated as 'll', but pronounced /l/; Δ is transliterated as 'D', but pronounced /ð/; and η is transliterated as 'ē', though it is pronounced /i/ (exactly like ι) and is not long.

Conversely, transcription notes the sounds but not necessarily the spelling. So "Ελληνική Δημοκρατία" could be transcribed as "elinikí ðimokratía", which does not specify which of the /i/ sounds are written as η and which as ι.

Viktor Bryzhin

Viktor Arkadyevich Bryzhin (Ukrainian: Віктор Аркадійович Бризгін, Russian: Виктор Аркадьевич Брызгин, Viktor Bryzgin; born August 22, 1962 in Voroshilovgrad) is a former Soviet athlete, winner of gold medal in 4 × 100 m relay at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Yelyzaveta Bryzhina

Yelyzaveta Viktorivna Bryzhina (Ukrainian: Єлизавета Вікторівна Бризгіна; born November 28, 1989 in Luhansk) is a Ukrainian sprint athlete, who specializes in the 100 metres.

Her personal best times are 11.42 seconds in the 100 m (outdoor), achieved in May 2016 in Kirovograd; and 22.44 seconds in the 200 metres, achieved in July 2010 in Barcelona.


The grapheme Ž (minuscule: ž) is formed from Latin Z with the addition of caron (Czech: háček, Slovak: mäkčeň, Slovene: strešica, Croatian: kvačica). It is used in various contexts, usually denoting the voiced postalveolar fricative, a sound similar to English g in mirage, or Portuguese and French j. In the International Phonetic Alphabet this sound is denoted with [ʒ], but the lowercase ž is used in the Americanist phonetic notation, as well as in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet. In addition, ž is used as the romanisation of Cyrillic ж in ISO 9 and scientific transliteration.

For use in computer systems, Ž and ž are at Unicode codepoints U+017D and U+017E, respectively. On Windows computers, it can be typed with Alt+0142 and Alt+0158, respectively.

Ž is the final letter of most alphabets that contain it, exceptions including Estonian and Turkmen.

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