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Russian keyboards

When choosing a cyrillic keyboard there were three choices: Russian - PC, which I discarded since I mainly use a Mac; Russian, and Russian - phonetic. I chose this one since it made it easy for me. Is there any good reason to learn the "real" Russian keyboard? Also, I noticed that the Russian - phonetic keyboard doesn't have a question mark, which I find odd!

Which keyboard do you use, and why?

November 7, 2015



Okay. Comparing Norrius', Landsend's and my keyboards, I came to the conclusion that Mac did things a little differently, as they often do. First of all, the second from top line of keys (the qwerty line) has an additional key, while the center line has one less. This caused me to do some fieldwork: I typed every darn key in each line, then under them the lower case version; and so forth. The phonetic keyboard still was missing ё, which I found by typing with the option key pressed. Also, the option + shift keys gave me quite an assortment of symbols. If any Mac user out there would like the results of this research, here they are:



I first decided on the phonetic Cyrillic setup, thinking that I would be unlikely to come across many real Russian keyboards [insert standard Finnish paranoid joke here]. But after only a few days of doing the course (and a fair bit of typing practice before that), I am starting to regret this and considering changing to the standard Russian one, although this will be harder to learn.

The main reason is that the standard does turn up (as the only Russian option) in places such as my phone's input options. So if I would really use the course, and later, when I actually know some Russian, the language, only on my own computer, the phonetic would be great. But I guess the real thing is always the real thing.

(In my phonetic setup on Windows 10, the question mark is the key next to the right shift key.)


I use the phonetic one. It is easier. Much easier. For me. For my goal.

There is no real thing. Every keyboard layout is arbitrary. I don't want to learn to type, I want to learn the language and the alphabet. Everything that works against this goal is not something I regard as a neat side effect but as an effective obstacle.

I use the German layout primarily. There are not much letters where the mapping is off, basically just four or five that I actively have to memorize. Thanks, I need my brain capacity for other tasks.

What I normally use:

No, thank you, perfectionism & faux authenticity, you are not helping here. If you want a fast typist on a Russian keyboard, well, you are not looking for me.


I agree with you that the phonetic layout is helpful while learning. About half of the alphabet takes advantage of the neuromuscular patterns we have already established using a qwerty keyboard.

In defense of the users above who have chosen a traditional Russian keyboard, they have not done so due to perfectionism or faux authenticity, but rather for consistency because on some of their devices, such as their phones, that is the only layout available. Therefore, they are also catering to developing the neuromuscular patterns that are either necessary now, or that they expect may be necessary in the future.


I'm using regular Russian keyboard. I find it easier then trying to figure out which keys are going to make Я Ю Ж Ш Щ Э Ь Ъ Ё on the phonetic keyboard. And not all phonetic keyboards work the same. So this way I have the same keyboard layout on both, my computer and phone.


I agree with choeisa. Finding the letters that do not have Latin equivalents is easier on a traditional keyboard.


Hi Mari! :)

But how do you find anything on a traditional Russian keyboard? With the phonetic keyboard, many of the letters come naturally. Mac has a keyboard viewer so you can find any key without having to look under your fingers. I am learning touch typing in cyrillic. (Of course the keyboard viewer will be available for the traditional layout should I choose to switch to it). Perhaps the traditional Russian keyboard is laid out with more thought as to how often certain letters are used, so that these are placed in areas where it's convenient for the strongest fingers to strike them? Well with the phonetic keyboard, I have yet not figured out how to type ё or a question mark.


I tried the phonetic keyboard, but I run into some problems, because stress and accompaning letters affect the pronunciation. An unstressed o, for instance, is pronounced as a, so I kept typing хорошо as "харашо". I know the problem is between my ears rather than with the keyboard, but I find the traditional keyboard easier to use.


And yet the 'O's in 'phonetic', 'some', 'for', 'know', 'to' and 'problem' are all different sounds, but you manage to find the right letter on an English keyboard. All that matters is practice; a phonetic keyboard just makes it a little easier at first, without needing stickers or, unmarked, remembering the arbitrary position of every letter in the Russian alphabet.


As I wrote earlier, the problem is between my ears. :)


After giving this some more thought, I realised that I am in exactly the same position when I am using English. My mother tongue is Finnish, an extremely straightforward language, when it comes to phonetics. So from my point of view, I am not using a phonetic keyboard when I type in English. If I can learn to type in English, why should I not learn to type in Russian? :)


As far as I remember, Mac's "standard" Russian layout has punctuation in funny places, perplexed me every time I did something on my friend's Macbook. I'd advise to keep that in mind when choosing a non-default layout (if you are going to type in Russian on more than one device, of course :)


Hmmm, isn't Mac's standard Russian keyboard is based on standard Russian typewriters? I certainly don't want to learn on it if it is not standard. I think I'll google this... thanks for pointing it out.


I don't see the upper case here, but it seems that “Russuan PC” is what I, as a Russian, would expect on anything with a keyboard. It's also what you'll normally find outside of OS X. Mine looks like this (ignore the special symbols):

The typewriter layout (yeah, it's based on typewriters...) has comma as Shift+6 and period as Shift+7 or something along these lines.

The choice is ultimately yours, but if you're going to learn a normal (not phonetic) keyboard, I would recommend “Russian PC”.


Phonetic keyboard is bad and a trap. No keyboard in Russia will be using phonetic, and it's not available on phones. If you plan on using it outside of whatever computer has phonetic function already (without the tedious process of remapping), then it's a waste of your time and better to practise on the real layout. Its difficult but worth it.

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