Transliteration of Russian into English

From Academic Kids

There exist many possible systems for transliterating the Cyrillic alphabet of the Russian language to English or the Latin alphabet. Such transliteration is necessary for writing Russian names and other words in English text. It is also essential for the input of Russian text into computer by users who either do not have the keyboard or word processor set up for input of Cyrillic, or else they are not capable of typing rapidly on the distinct Cyrillic keyboard. In the latter case, they would type using a system of transliteration on the QWERTY keyboard and then use an automated tool to convert the text into Cyrillic.

Standard Cyrillic-to-English transliteration systems include:

  • The United Nations-recommended romanization system (1987), based on GOST. Used in the Russian Federation and increasingly in international cartographic products.
  • GOST 16876-71 (1983), from the Main Administration of Geodesy and Cartography of the former Soviet Union. Russian abbreviation of GOsudarstvenny STandart, "the State Standard".
  • ISO 9:1995, from the International Organization for Standardization.
  • America Library Association & Library of Congress (ALA-LC) Romanization tables for Slavic alphabets (1997), used in North American libraries.
  • BGN/PCGN 1947 transliteration system (United States Board on Geographic Names & Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use).

Note that the transliteration to other languages can be different (for instance: Russian "Воронин" = English "Voronin" = French "Voronine", Горбачёв = Gorbachev = Gorbatchev, etc.).

Conventional transcription of Russian names

The following table describes a method to derive the most common informal transcriptions of Russian names into the Latin alphabet, suitable for English-speakers. It is similar to BGN/PCGN transliteration, with several exceptions.

Russian letter or letter combination English transliteration Special provisions Examples
А (а) A (a) None Аник = Anik

Поганкино = Pogankino

Б (б) B (b) None Болотин = Bolotin

Колбасин = Kolbasin

В (в) V (v) None Воронин = Voronin

Привалин = Privalin

Г (г) G (g) None Галкин = Galkin

Луговой = Lugovoy

H (h) When it is a commonly accepted convention [Insert an example]
Д (д) D (d) None Дровяное = Drovyanoye

Подгорск = Podgorsk

Е (е) Ye (ye)
  1. In the beginning of words;
  2. after vowels;
  3. after ь;
  4. after ъ.
  1. Ельцин = Yeltsin
  2. Раздольное = Razdolnoye
  3. Юрьев = Yuryev (ь omitted—see ь line below);
  4. Подъездной = Podyezdnoy
E (e) All other cases Белкин = Belkin
Ё (ё) Yo (yo) None Ёлкино = Yolkino

Озёрск = Ozyorsk

E (e) When it is a commonly accepted convention Горбачёв = Gorbachev
Ж (ж) Zh (zh) None Жиров = Zhirov

Приволжское = Privolzhskoye

З (з) Z (z) None Зорин = Zorin

Обозов = Obozov

И (и) I (i) Except in an -ий ending (see below) Иркутск = Irkutsk

Владивосток = Vladivostok

Й (й) Y (y) Except in -ый and -ий endings (see below) Йошкар-Ола = Yoshkar-Ola

Буйск = Buysk

I (i) When it is a commonly accepted convention Край = Krai
J (j) When it is a commonly accepted convention [Insert an example]
К (к) K (k) None Киров = Kirov

Галкин = Galkin

Л (л) L (l) None Лапинск = Lapinsk

Комсомольск = Komsomolsk

М (м) M (m) None Мичурин = Michurin

Колыма = Kolyma

Н (н) N (n) None Нальчик = Nalchik

Савино = Savino

О (о) O (o) None Одесса = Odessa

Грозный = Grozny

П (п) P (p) None Петроград = Petrograd

Ставрополь = Stavropol

Р (р) R (r) None Родниковое = Rodnikovoye

Высокогорск = Vysokogorsk

С (с) S (s) None Ступино = Stupino

Бирск = Birsk

Т (т) T (t) None Тавричанка = Tavrichanka

Ростов = Rostov

У (у) U (u) None Улетайск = Uletaysk

Шушенское = Shushenskoye

Ф (ф) F (f) None Фёдоровка = Fyodorovka

Корфу = Korfu

Ph (ph) When it is a commonly accepted convention [Иосиф Сталин = Joseph Stalin]
Х (х) Kh (kh) None Хабаровск = Khabarovsk

Оха = Okha

Ц (ц) Ts (ts) None Царское = Tsarskoye

Зарецкий = Zaretsky

Ч (ч) Ch (ch) None Черемшаны = Cheremshany

Зареченск = Zarechensk

Tch (tch) When it is a commonly accepted convention Чайковский = Tchaikovsky
Ш (ш) Sh (sh) None Шадрин = Shadrin

Моршанск = Morshansk

Щ (щ) Shch (shch) None Щукино = Shchukino

Рощинский = Roshchinsky

Sch (sch) When it is a commonly accepted convention Хрущёв = Khruschev
ъ (твёрдый знак) omitted When followed by a vowel Подъярский = Podyarsky
" When it is a commonly accepted convention [Insert an example]
Ы (ы) Y (y) Except in an -ый ending (see below) Ыттык-Кёль = Yttyk-Kyol

Давыдов = Davydov

ь (мягкий знак) omitted
  1. When followed by an iotated vowel;
  2. at the end of words;
  3. before a consonant
  1. Усолье = Usolye
  2. Выхухоль = Vykhukhol
  3. Дальнегорск = Dalnegorsk
y When followed by a non-iotated vowel Ильинский = Ilyinsky
' When it is a commonly accepted convention Русь = Rus'
Э (э) E (e) None Элиста = Elista

Тетраэдральный = Tetraedralny

Ю (ю) Yu (yu) None Юрмала = Yurmala

Козючинск = Kozyuchinsk

Я (я) Ya (ya) None Ярославль = Yaroslavl

Бурянск = Buryansk

Кс (кс) x In names like Alexander and Alexey Александр = Alexander

Алексей = Alexey

Ks (ks) In all other cases Моксинский = Moksinsky

Ксинск = Ksinsk

-ый endings y None Красный = Krasny
iy When it is a commonly accepted convention [Insert an example]
-ий endings y "-iy" is also acceptable Синий = Siny (Siniy)
iy "-y" is also acceptable Великий = Velikiy (Veliky)
i When it is a commonly accepted convention Юрий = Yuri

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