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Translit is a method of encoding Cyrillic letters with Latin ones. The term is derived from transliteration, the system of replacing letters of one alphabet with letters of another.

The translit system arose when Russian speakers first needed to write their language on computers that did not support the Cyrillic script. There is evidence of past translit use in international telegraphic communications. Translit found its way into web forums, chats, messengers, emails, MMORPGs and other network games. Some Cyrillic web sites had a translit version for cases of encoding problems.

As computer and network technologies developed support for the Cyrillic script, translit fell into disrepute. Sometimes translit users were ignored or even banned in Cyrillic-using communities.

Translit received its last development impulse with the increasing availability of mobile phones in Cyrillic-using countries. At first, the situation was the same as with computers; neither mobile phones nor mobile network operators supported Cyrillic. Although mobile phone technology now supports Unicode including all variants of Cyrillic alphabets, a single SMS in Unicode is limited to 70 characters, whereas a Latinate SMS can have up to 160 characters. If text exceeds single SMS maximum characters it is split into multiple SMS's and their amount determines the total cost , because of that translit SMS's are cheaper and more commonly used.

Common transliterations in translit
Letter transliteration Letter transliteration Letter transliteration
а a к k, c ч ch, č, Ψ, 4
б b, 6 л l, Jl, Λ ш sch, sh, š, w, Ψ, 6
в v, w м m щ sh, shch, sch,
šč, shh, w
г g, Γ, s н n
д d, Δ, g о o ъ ', y, j, '', #,
or absent
е e, ye, je, ie п p, Π, n
ё yo, jo, io, e р r ы y, i, q, bl
ж zh, ž, j, z, g, *, >|< с s ь ', y, j, b
or absent
з z, 3 т t, m
и i, u у u, y э e, e', eh
й y, j, i, u,
or absent;
ий → iy, ый → yy;
-ий/ый → i, y
ф f, Φ
х h, kh, x ю yu, ju, iu, u
ц c, z, ts, tc, u я ya, ja, ia, ea, a, q, 9, 9I

Sometimes «y», «yu», «yo», «ye», «ya» serve as transliteration for «й», «ю», «ё», «е», «я».

Lately a more aggressive form of translit appeared, usually associated with teens new to the web and neglecting its rules. Its identifying characteristic is the use of numbers to substitute some of the letters. For example, 4 reads as "ch" and is used to translit letter "ч", from the transliteration of the word "four" in Russian ("Chetyre", четыре), or, arguably, the appearance of the letter similar to that of four in Arabic numerals. Also, a number can substitute its whole name as part of a word: "sov7" for "sovsem" ("completely") or "posmo3" for "posmotri" ("have a look", imperative).

Common abbreviations for numerals
Number Usual transliteration Original word for it in Translit Original word in Russian
1 od odin один
2 dv dva два
3 tr tri три
4 ch chetyre четыре
5 p pyat' пять
6 sh shest' шесть
7 s sem' семь
8 vo vosem' восемь
9 dt devyat' девять

Such translit is often so distorted that native speakers have trouble reading it. The use of translit is prohibited on many Internet forums.[1]

Russia and other former Soviet republics adopted the ISO 9 transliteration standard for official use (under the designation 7.79-2000), replacing the old Soviet GOST 16876-71.

Translit in Bulgaria

A modified version of Translit is used widely on the Internet in Bulgaria. It is similar to Russian translit, except for the following differences:

  • ъ can be transliterated as a, u and y and rarely as 1
  • я is usually transliterated as q, but ya and ia can be seen
  • ч is transliterated as either 4 or ch
  • ж is transliterated as j
  • ю is transliterated as either iu, yu or u
  • ш is transliterated as 6
  • в is mostly transliterated as v, but w has been seen due to the placement of the letter on the Bulgarian traditional phonetic keyboard

See also


  1. ^ search for "Правила форума: транслит запрещен", (e.g, forum rules: translit is prohibited)

External links

  • Free Russian-English text converter / transliterator (in Russian).
  • Translit App for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – type Phonetic in Russian
  • Online Service for Cyrillic (Russian and Ukrainian) - Virtual Keyboard "No translit!"
  • Online Service for Transliteration of Cyrillic Scripts
  • Outdated Transliterators Known problems of Transliteration Services and modern alternatives
  • Non-trivial Russian-English Transliteration (for domain names and URLs).
  • Translit Ru/En Online Russian-English Transliteration, supports multiple transliteration standards and spell check.
  • Russian-English transliterator and spell checker (in Russian).
  • English-Russian and Russian-English letter transformation.
  • Russian-Latin transliterator, spell checker and translator (in Russian).
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