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12 Languages

12.15 Russian

12.15.1 Alphabet and transliteration

Russian is one of the six Slavonic languages written in Cyrillic script (see Slavonic languages at 12.17 for a list of the others). Table 12.7 includes ‘upright’ (pryamoĭ) and ‘cursivǐ’ (kursiv) forms and also a transliteration in accordance with the ‘British System’ as given in British Standard 2979 (1958). For a brief discussion of the problems of transliteration see 12.17.1.

12.15.2 Abbreviations

One of the distinctive aspects of non-literary texts of the Soviet period was the extensive use of abbreviations, used to a far lesser extent in the post-Soviet language.

In lower-case abbreviations with full points, any spaces in the original should be kept, for example и т. д., и пр., but с.-д. Abbreviations by contraction, such as д-р, have no points. Abbreviations with a solidus are typically used in abbreviations of unhyphenated compound words.

Table 12.7 Russian alphabet

Upright

Cursive

Transliteration

А а

А а

a

Б б

Б б

b

В в

В в

v

Г г

Г г

g

Д д

Д д

d

Е е

Е е

e

Ё ё

Ё ё

ë

Ж ж

Ж ж

zh

З з

З з

z

И и

И и

i

Й й

Й й

ĭ

К к

К к

k

Л л

Л л

l

М м

М м

m

Н н

Н н

n

О о

О о

o

П п

П п

p

Р р

Р р

r

С с

С с

s

Т т

Т т

t

У у

У у

u

Ф ф

Ф ф

f

Х х

Х х

kh

Ц ц

Ц ц

ts

Ч ч

Ч ч

ch

Ш ш

Ш ш

sh

Щ щ

Щ щ

shch

Ъ ъ

Ъ ъ

Ы ы

Ы ы

ȳ

Ь ь

Ь ь

Э э

Э э

é

Ю ю

Ю ю

yu

Я я

Я я

ya

Abbreviations consisting of capital initial letters, such as OOO (‘Ltd’), are set close without internal or final points. Commonly used lowercase abbreviations that are pronounced syllabically and declined, for example вуз, are not set with points.

Abbreviations for metric and other units are usually set in cursive and are not followed by a full point; abbreviated qualifying adjectives do have the full point, however (5 кb. кm etc.).

12.15.3 Capitalization

Capital initial letters are in general rarer in Russian than in English. Capitalize personal names, but use lower-case initial letters for nouns and adjectives formed from them:

тротскист ‘Trotskyite’

марксизм ‘Marxism’

and for nationalities, names of nationals, and inhabitants of towns:

татарин ‘Tartar’

англичанин Englishman’

Ranks, titles, etc. are also lower case:

святой Николай ‘Saint Nicholas’
князь Оболенский ‘Prince Obolensky’

Each word in names of countries takes a capital:

Соединённые Штаты Америки ‘United States of America’

Adjectives formed from geographical names are lower case except when they form part of a proper noun or the name of an institution:

европейские государства ‘European states’

but

Архангельские воздушные линии ‘Archangel Airlines’

Geographical terms forming part of the name of an area or place are lower case:

остров Рудольфа ‘Rudolph Island’

Северный полюс ‘the North Pole’

Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns in titles of organizations and institutions, and of literary and musical works, newspapers, and journals.

Days of the week and names of the months are lower case, but note Первое мая and 1-е Мая for the May Day holiday.

The pronoun of the first-person singular, я = I, is lower case (except, of course, when used at the beginning of a sentence).

12.15.4 Punctuation

Hyphen

The hyphen is used in nouns consisting of two elements:

интернет-сайт ‘website’
вице-спикер Думы ‘The Deputy Speaker of the Duma’

It is also used in compound place names, Russian or foreign, consisting of separable words.

Dash

En rules are not used in Russian typography; em rules set close up take their place. Spaced em rules are much used in Russian texts; they may indicate that a word needs to be understood, or represent the rarely used present tense of быть ‘to be’.

линия Москва — Киев ‘the Moscow–Kiev line’
Иван играет на рояле, а Людмила — на скрипке ‘Ivan plays the piano, Lyudmila the violin’:
Волга — самая большая река в Европе ‘the Volga is the longest European river’

Dashes are also used to introduce direct speech.

Quotation marks

Guillemets, set close, are used to indicate direct speech and special word usage and with titles of literary works, journals, etc.

12.15.5 Word division

Russian syllables end in a vowel, and word division is basically syllabic. However, there are many exceptions to this generalization, most of which are connected with Russian word formation. Consonant groups may be taken over entire or divided where convenient (provided at least one consonant is taken over), subject to the following rules.

  • • Do not separate a consonant from the prefix, root, or suffix of which it forms a part: род | ной, под|бежать, мещан |ство are correct divisions. Divide between double consonants (клас|сами), except where this conflicts with the preceding rule (класс |ный).

  • • Do not leave at the end of a line—or carry over—a single letter, or two or more consonants without a vowel: к|руглый, ст|рела, жидко|сть are incorrect. The letters ъ, ь, and й should never be separated from the letter preceding them (подъ|езд).

12.15.6 Numerals

Arabic numerals are used. Numbers from 10,000 upwards are divided off into thousands by thin spaces, and not by commas (26 453); below 10,000 they are set closed up (9999). The decimal comma is used in place of the decimal point (0,36578). Ordinal numbers are followed by a contracted adjectival termination except when they are used in dates (5-й год but 7 ноября 1917 г.).

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