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Russian! Now, which cyrillic keyboard are you using?

I'm so excited to be starting the Russian course today!

I intend to learn using the cyrillic alphabet as my goal is to be able to read Russian as well as speak and under understand it spoken. I have some experience using alternate keyboard keybinding setups (I use one for studying Ancient Greek), and switching between them is made very easy on a mac with no fiddling necessary.

My question is: is there any value in my putting in the learning what seems to be the "standard" Russian keyboard layout? It is very counter intuitive! m > ь, n > т, b > и, and so on and so on. Yikes!

The mac also offers another "phonetic" keybinding set. I'm just curious. What do y'all plan on using for your cyrillic input? Thanks!

November 2, 2015



I use a modified phonetic keyboard I made a while back. Here it is:


I didn't like any of the ready-made phonetic keyboard designs I found. For example, all of them mapped х to x which isn't phonetic at all as х sounds more like english 'h'. Whereas I'm used to typing x in pinyin to represent /ɕ/, so I prefer to map it to щ. The same in the case of c and j. The rest of them are largely arbitrarily placed (although ш does look somewhat like w), and it was perhaps a mistake to put one of the commonest Russian words on the least common English letter, but it's too late now as I've got used to it.

[deactivated user]

    I use standard Windows layout. (йцукен). It's not so hard to remember. Phonetic means "it's very similar to Latin keyboard". So should be a > a, s > c, d > д, f > ф but I don't like that one. Choose what you want. Good luck into the course.

    [deactivated user]

      I forgot to tell you that you can buy Cyrillic stickers and put them on your keys if you want. Ought to find one on amazon etc.


      Here is one trick that we used when the stickers were not widely available yet.

      Get a permanent marker, like a Sharpie in any color you like. For a dark keyboard one can use silver or white markers. Open any text editor, even Notepad will do. Switch to Russian layout. Then go over the keyboard, key by key and see what letters or symbols they produce. Write them on the sides of the keys facing you, so they don't smudge when you start tying.

      Or just get the stickers :)


      Someone posted this in another thread. I may just learn to use the standard russian keyboard, though currently I'm just typing in english as if it were phonetic and it seems to be taking most of my answers. It won't improve my spelling, though..



      Typing games like the one you link to are a better way to learn the standard layout than the intermittent typing in Russian necessary to progress through lessons on Duo. So I'm bookmarking the game for when I want to switch later, at which point I'll also look for other such games. The main point in switching outside Russia seems to be so as to be able to type on mobile devices which don't offer the phonetic/mnemonic layout. Of course, Russian is not yet available via the Duo app..


      I'm using the standard Russian mac keyboard (not the phonetic one) and it isn't very difficult to get used to if given a bit of time. For the first few days I was learning the Cyrillic alphabet, I had the keyboard viewer small on the screen, for reference, but after a while I no longer needed it. Typing, for me at least, isn't phonetic to start with, it is more about my fingers remembering the movements. It was actually easier for me to learn an entirely new layout than try to link sounds and letters in Russian with sounds and letters in English. Perhaps it depends on your learning style.


      Yeah, I'm keeping the keyboard map displayed and after the first level I've already committed about 1/4 of the character positions to memory. Some of the subtleties of pronunciation are going to take me much longer to get down than the typing. :)


      I may end up cracking and just use a phonetic layout. I don't know what the value would be in using the standard йцукен other than bragging writes if I don't foresee myself being in Russia any time soon. If anything, I feel like practicing йцукен would probably hurt my typing skills in English or Greek, for which I use a rather phonetic layout; I'm not sure if it's 'standard.' I'm easily confused. ^_^ Also, here's a brief overview on the Russian layouts for others interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout#Cyrillic


      That's kind of what I am thinking now, even if you go to Russia, their computers should have the ability to change to a phonetic keyboard. Maybe they are still using a lot of typewriters.


      Windows doesn't even have the phonetic layout by default, IIRC.


      After reading all the comments in this thread I have decided to just learn the standard one and forget about the phonetic.


      It does not, which is why I think learning the default one will be best in the long run since you won't always be on your own computer and able to use a phonetic one. Though I guess you could use a website that sort of fakes it and then copy/paste from that.


      What I've decided is that I'll try to learn the standard russian keyboard so that no matter what computer I'm at, I'll be able to type in Russian without trying to install a phonetic keyboard. Especially at my work where I want to be able to do duolingo at lunch, I can't install anything so I should get used to the standard layout.

      Plus, the reason the layout is the way it is may have to do with efficiency in typing words. The reason the qwerty keyboard is the way it is? Supposedly it tended to make it common to switch between left and right hands a lot so that the levers on a typewriter would be less likely to jam!


      If I had the phonetic keyboard on my iPad, I'd use that everywhere, but it only has йцукен and my laptop also doesn't actually come with a phonetic keyboard, so rather than chop and change, I've just got used to йцукен - if anything, I now find the phonetic layout confusing, because I've got used to where the letters are on йцукен. But as I say, if I had had the option, then I would have gone for phonetic. Assuming you can type at all, I personally think it's easier to switch to and from.


      I'm using the "phonetic" keyboard, which I also used for Ukrainian. I find it a lot easier to remember the locations of the the letters than with the standard Cyrillic keyboard. If I were thinking of emigrating to either country I would learn the standard layout, but for purposes of the course I don't see the point.


      A custom multilanguage one I made myself:

      Worked fair enough for Ukrainian.


      so, how are you going to work at, say, your friends PC?


      I memorized all the letters using a standard Latin keyboard back in the Ukrainian course.


      Best way to do it. I've been working out how to touchtype on the йцукен layout, but oddly enough I can't type in English without looking at the letters. This often leads to me typing out a stream of cyrillic gobbledygook when I'm intending to type in English, of course, because I seldom look at the screen when I'm not typing in Russian.


      I've been using the standard keyboard thinking I may switch to phonetic if I don't get the hang of it but know I'm thinking that the phonetic would help me learn the sound the letters make better and help me learn the alphabet as a result. So I think I may just start using the phonetic only.


      I memorized the standard cyrillic keyboard some time ago now, but I still type a lot slower than I do with languages using the Latin alphabet. Hopefully this course will help me improve that a bit.


      In Windows, I'm starting out using the Russian "mnemonic keyboard" introduced in Windows 8. It is the same as the phonetic keyboard elsewhere, but with a few "dead keys" -- meaning that a few characters can only be typed via 2-key sequences as detailed here (click through). I have plenty of recent experience using a keyboard layout with dead keys -- the US International keyboard which I use by default uses them to greatly increase the number of other languages' special characters that can be easily typed from memory.

      The mnemonic or phonetic keyboard seems like the easiest way to get started for someone with no previous experience typing in Russian, and it reinforces the connection between the sounds and the characters. I'll switch over to the standard RU layout at some point later, maybe when (/if) they introduce RU»EN Immersion.

      Knowing the standard layout does not seem crucial at this point, and will likely be learned more easily later anyway. For now I don't see minimal intermittent typing using the mnemonic keyboard as promoting any bad habit, as it's more just an extension of typing in English. This way I'll end up experienced with two keyboard layouts -- it hardly seems like it would make sense to switch from standard to phonetic/mnemonic later, so I submit that the result is like ending up with a small bonus skill.


      Just so you know, there will never be another language released in Immersion. Duo no longer considers it a viable business model and they supposedly had some trouble with EU labor laws concerning unpaid labor (thus why Euros are technically not even allowed to use Immersion right now).


      Thanks for the info, although I tend to take most absolute pronouncements about the future with a grain of salt. Maybe since EN»RU already exists there is more hope for RU»EN than in cases involving a language totally new to Duo, but I'll just default to having no expectations.


      I would also think there is not so much of a conflict of interest with EU labor laws when it comes to translating materials into English. The option to translate from English into other languages including Russian already exists on Duo, and it is these translations that are a marketable commodity when performed by native speakers of those languages. So labor laws outside the US don't seem like the operative barrier to the introduction of RU»EN Immersion.


      Wow, that is messed up. Can someone provide a link to the main thread discussing this if there is one?


      Maybe it was from the Reddit AMA w/ Duolingo's founder? Can't imagine that this topic wouldn't have been addressed then, anyway. I should still eventually manage to get plenty of instruction via translating from EN to RU in collaboration w/ native speakers, which is already established here.

      But I am still very much in the pro-phonetic camp, until actually ready to attempt the sustained uni-directional typing of these translations into Russian. Really they should call it a "learner's keyboard"; it was basically designed for this very activity. And some answers in the RU course I can type using the mnemonic keyboard with the exact keystrokes I would use in English; see: sushi, mama, papa, etc. This is only a point in its favor.


      I don't think there's likely to be enough sustained typing during the course to lead to real mastery of a completely new keyboard layout anyway, so phonetic/mnemonic all the way.


      Doing the timed review is impossible without good keyboard chops. I know, I tried and failed miserably today on material that I knew in the first few Russian lessons. T_T


      I figure when I get into Russian I'll match my mobile keyboard and my computer's (I believe the one offered in iOS is standard layout so that'll be how I learn it).

      I've found that I have to have QWERTY for Latin letter languages regardless of what their standard keyboards look like, but since we're dealing with Cyrillic I don't think any learned behaviours in typing will cause a problem.

      I think this will be something that each individual will have to discover for themselves which keyboard makes the most sense to them.


      I use the site on my phone so russian android keyboard.


      Phonetic cuz I'm lazy


      For anyone who is using a computer that you do not want to download a keyboard (my computer is school issued so I cannot) just google search "Russian keyboard" and many other options should pop up. Удачного дня!


      I bought this off eBay a few months ago in readiness for the release of this course. It's a small wireless keyboard with built in track pad, with keys marked with both Cyrillic and Latin letters. Then I added Russian keyboard in windows and switch between the two. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2-4G-Mini-Wireless-Keyboard-with-Touchpad-fr-Laptop-TV-Box-Russian-Language-1B99-/361369289890?hash=item542349c4a2:g:9ZIAAOSwPcVV1Z-v


      I'm using the йцукен keyboard. I used the phonetic keyboard in high school, but I figured that there was a reason why the Russians put the keys where they did, so I'm doing as the Russians do.

      I used it for a bit last year, forgot it mostly, and started using it again about two weeks ago. I can use it okay already, for the most part (although not as fast as I can type in English). Occasionally I have to think about where a letter is, but it's already pretty easy.

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