The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Monday, February 10, 2014

A love of letters

With the start of the Winter Olympics, not only am I loving the snowboarding commentary (a whole new language!), but I’ve been reminded of how much I like the Cyrillic alphabet … let me explain …

In my first year as an undergraduate, I did a Russian language course for a year. I was absolutely rubbish and I don’t think I really learnt to say anything useful. I’m not sure if that was down to the rather uninspired grammar-translation style course or more likely, just me being a sulky, disinterested teenager!

The only part of the course I did enjoy was learning the Cyrillic alphabet.  Like any alphabet, the printed text is slightly different from the handwritten form, so as part of our studies, we had to do handwriting practice. I spent many a happy hour neatly copying out words and phrases into my little workbook – about the only part of the course I had a talent for!

I also loved the aspect of learning to decipher a kind of secret code. I still get excited when I manage to work out the pronunciation of something written in Cyrillic – especially if it’s a name or something else I recognise. Which brings me back to Sochi, or rather should I say СОЧИ, because in Cyrillic, the ‘ch’ sound has its own character, Ч, which has a certain neatness that appeals too. And then there’re the exotic, curly Ж (zh) and Щ (shch)… or maybe it’s just me …

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Blogger Tyson Seburn said...

Me too (RE love for decoding a secret language). Korean was like this for me. I knew very little about it when I arrived in the country and simply spent my waiting time for subways looking at the signs and trying to figure out what letters made what sounds. So fun!

4:44 pm  

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