Russian Alphabet


The Russian alphabet has existed in its modern form with 33 letters since 1918. Previously, Е and Ё were considered the same letter. It is still relevant in legal matters.

The existence of a writing system among the Slavs in the pre-Christian era is not definitively known. On one hand, there is evidence from archaeological findings. On the other hand, this is not enough to claim that the pagan Slavs used their own original script. Both the dating of the discovered objects and the interpretations of ancient authors are subject to debate.

The first alphabet for the Slavs was created by the brothers Cyril and Methodius at the order of the Byzantine Emperor Michael III in 863. It is not entirely clear whether it was the  Cyrillic 0410–0474 or the  Glagolitic 2C00–2C2A script. However, it is generally believed that Cyrillic came later and became the ancestor of the Russian alphabet.

There have been several significant reforms of the Russian writing system. In 1708-1711, Peter I introduced the so-called civil script. The letterforms changed to resemble Latin letters of that time more closely. However, superscript signs were removed. Some letters that were used for numbers became unnecessary after switching to Arabic numerals. In addition, lowercase letters were introduced, whereas only uppercase letters were used before.

Significant changes were made to the Russian alphabet during the 1917-1918 reform, mainly regarding orthography. The letters Ѣ, Ѳ, and І were removed from the alphabet. Instead, it was proposed to use Е, Ф, and И. The letter Ѵ, which was rarely used, disappeared from the alphabet as well. Besides, the letter “ъ” also stopped being used at the ends of words.