Any suggestions to help learn the Cyrillic alphabet? I know several by heart; и, р, п, т, а and д. One question though; what is the difference between з and ц? Thanks
I'll answer the easy question:
з = 'z' like in Zebra
ц = 'ts' like in caTS
In this case, it would be more like пица as it makes the "ts" sound without needing two.
I am pretty sure it is longer than a single Ц there, at least it is in mu pronunciation. Which is also characteristic of English TS.
The IPA pronunciation is /ˈpɪtsɐ/ though I imagine some regional pronounciations it could be different. "Pee-tsa". Maybe some say "peet-tsa" or something?
More, I was trying to show that "zz" makes the "ts" sound here, but that you don't need to have it be цц.
Рр rolled r
Хх Scots loch
Щщ sheer (sometimes instead pronounced as in fresh-cheese)
Ъъ silent, prevents palatalization of the preceding consonant
Ьь silent, palatalizes the preceding consonant (if it is phonologically possible)
Remember the word 'ATOMIK'; I'm sure it's not too difficult to associate this word with Russia and the West... These are the letters that look and sound the same as English† (apart from 'i', of course, which isn't a letter in Russian).
Then lots of letters look like Greek letters: Г Д С (ς with a bit of imagination) Л П У Ф Х Б/б and Р. З also looks a bit like Greek zeta, or a cursive latin z, and Э looks like a back-to-front epsilon.
But remember that Н is not a capital eta!
The rest you just have to remember in whatever way suits your best. For example, when I first learnt it, I remembered Ш because it looked somewhat like Chinese 山*, which starts with the same /ʂ/ sound. Ц could be a stick drawing of two ca/t͡s/ sitting together, the tail of one hanging down. I had a mnemonic for Ч, too, but I really can't remember what it was, now.
†Except О only sounds like 'O' when stressed.
*This is problematic as when 山 is handwritten the last stroke often protrudes down so it looks more like Щ; however, it was still my mnemonic, and it worked for me.
I think, CHair for Ч works just fine. The letter does look bear some resemblance to an upside-down chair, after all. It is also convenient later if you write your 4's like that because "four" is «четыре» in Russian and starts with the same letter.
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I would suggest looking up videos on the alphabet, look up the alphabet itself (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/russian.htm is a good resource). And whenever you see a word in Cyrillic, just try to pronounce it and then see if you're correct. I learned the Cyrillic alphabet a long time ago because I got addicted to just alphabets; not languages for some reason; but learning the Ukrainian pronunciation was very hard for me. So take your time and do what I tell you and in no time you'll be writing Cyrillic naturally!