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What is Duolingo's latinate alphabet for Russian based on?

Only having done the Cyrillic version of Russian so far, I decided to try the latinate version purely to see what it looks like. The most common transliteration schemes are Scientific Russian Cyrillic (used specifically for Russian) and ISO 9 (used for all Cyrillic languages), so I was wondering how Duolingo compared to those.

Original sentence:

<pre>Мужчины едят хлеб. </pre>

Scientific Russian:

<pre>Mužčiny edjat xleb. </pre>

ISO 9:

<pre>Mužčiny edât hleb. </pre>

Duolingo transliteration:

<pre>Muzhchiny edyat khleb. </pre>

I'm wondering why they have chosen the scheme as it is, because they did more than just removing the letters with accents. If one is going to learn Russian with a transliteration scheme instead of the actual alphabet, then in my opinion a pre-existing and commonly used scheme would be preferable.

November 9, 2015



Who knows. It might simply be a case of someone just making it up based on what he thinks a Russian letter sounds like. Х = 'kh'? Are they using 'h' for something else? And are they transcribing stressed and unstressed 'о's the same or differently? I gleaned from some comments that it turns Щ into 'sht', which is bizarre if correct.

I personally think that if Duo feels it needs to support people who, for some reason, can't install some form of Cyrillic input themselves, it should come up with a transliteration system in which a local script will convert a particular Latin letter or letter combination into Cyrillic on the website. I've seen this done with pinyin (where, for example, one types 'he2' into a box and it automatically changes to 'hé'; there's no reason why people shouldn't type 'zh' and it changes to 'ж').


I think щ is sht in some languages that use Cyrillic - I want to say Bulgarian? - but yeah, it's not too helpful for Russian :-/


Yes, it is in Bulgarian. And it was "шт" in Old Slavonic ( Bulgarian appears to be the most conservative on this point ). And here is an archaic version of this letter. It is "Ш" placed on the top of "Т"



Huh, did not know that about how it was formed - that is very cool/interesting :D thanks!


KH is a typical way to transcribe that sound, though.


That definitely would be bizarre if they are turning щ into "sht." For English speakers I have seen that letter transliterated as "shch" on multiple sources and it sort of makes sense sound-wise.


It's not what I'd've chosen from these many options, but it appears to be British Standard 2979:1958, "the main system of the Oxford University Press" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Russian#Transliteration_table


Resembles GOST or BGN/PCGN, I guess? I didn't pay a lot of attention to the transliteration though.


I haven't taken a good look at it but I imagine it's based on whatever standard gave us "Khrushchev."


i know right. my native language is russian. i founded a russian course for english speakers and just wanted to check it out. you won't belive it - i couldn't pass it because duolingo wrote " muzhchiny edyat khleb" when it was suppost to be " мужчины едят хлеб".


That's because you have to switch to Cyrillic writing if you want to type in Cyrillic. Everyone thinks Cyrillic should be the default but sadly, it isn't. Just click the button and you should be fine.


When you're doing a lesson, it's in the top left with "Aa" on it if you're using transliteration right now or "Яя" if you're using Cyrillic.

It's pretty small and light gray but it should've pointed it out when you did your first lesson.


If I've understood correctly, it's pointed out, and available later, if you use the full web version, but not if you use the mobile web version.


I'm glad it isn't just me. This is driving me up the wall. :notamindreader:


I imagine that one design consideration was that it has to be typable using only the 26 letters of the English alphabet, without any accents or diacritics such as the háček on š.

Since part of the point was to enable people who just have a standard US keyboard to type in Russian.


But they do use nonstandard symbols:


Wow, that looks odd.


I'm more familiar with the Library of Congress system (http://loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/russian.pdf), which would render it 'Muzhchiny ediat khleb'. The only difference is the use of 'ya' rather than 'ia', which is not an uncommon change to make (you see it a lot when transliterating Russian names and loanwords).

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