Romanization of Russian

Romanization of Russian

The romanization of the Russian alphabet is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic alphabet and into the Latin alphabet, such as the English alphabet and other Latin alphabets in particular (and sometimes non-Latin alphabets). Such transliteration is necessary for writing Russian names and other words in the alphabet of one's own language.

Romanization is also essential for the input of Russian text into computer by users who either do not have a 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 fitted for their Keyboard layout, such as for English QWERTY keyboards, and then use an automated tool to convert the text into Cyrillic.

ystematic transliterations of Cyrillic to Latin

Note that many phonetic transcription systems are intended for readers of a particular language audience, as the letters of the Latin alphabet differs, and are being used differently, in each language using the Latin script. For instance Russian „Воронин“ = “Voronin” in English, Czech or Spanish, «Voronine» in French and „Woronin“ in German or Polish.

cientific transliteration

Scientific transliteration, also known as the "International Scholarly System", is a system that has been used in linguistics since the 19th century. It is based on the Czech alphabet and formed the basis of the GOST and ISO systems.


GOST 16876 (1971)

Developed by the National Administration for Geodesy and Cartography at the USSR Council of Ministers, GOST 16876-71 has been in service for over 30 years and is the only romanization system that does not use diacritics. Replaced by GOST 7.79-2000.

GOST ST SEV 1362 (1978)

This standard is an equivalent of GOST 16876-71. Adopted as an official standard of the COMECON.

GOST 7.79 (2002)

GOST 7.79-2000 "System of Standards on Information, Librarianship, and Publishing – Rules for Transliteration of the Cyrillic Characters Using the Latin Alphabet" is the newest document on transliteration in the series of GOST standards. This standard is an adoption of and is now the official standard of both Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).



ISO/R 9, established 1954 and updated 1968, was the adoption of the scientific transliteration by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It covers Russian and seven additional Slavic languages.


ISO 9:1995 is the current transliteration standard from ISO. It is based on its predecessor ISO/R 9:1968, which it deprecates; for Russian they only differ in the treatment of five modern letters. It is the first language-independent, univocal system of one character for one character equivalents (by the use of diacritics), which faithfully represents the original and allows for reverse transliteration for Cyrillic text in any contemporary language.

United Nations romanization system

The UNGEGN, a Working Group of the United Nations, in 1987 recommended a romanization system for geographical names, which was based on GOST 16876-71. It may be found in some international cartographic products.


American Library Association & Library of Congress (ALA-LC) romanization tables for Slavic alphabets (1997) are used in North American libraries.

The formal, unambiguous version of the system requires some diacritics and two-letter tie characters, which are often omitted in practice.


The BGN/PCGN system is relatively intuitive for anglophones to read and pronounce. In many publications a simplified form of the system is used to render English versions of Russian names, typically converting "ë" to "yo", simplifying "-iy" and "-yy" endings to "-y", and omitting apostrophes for "ъ" and "ь". It can be rendered using only the basic letters and punctuation found on English-language keyboards: no diacritics or unusual letters are required, although the Interpunct character (·) can optionally be used to avoid some ambiguity.

This particular standard is part of the BGN/PCGN romanization system which was developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names and by the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use. The portion of the system pertaining to the Russian language was adopted by BGN in 1944, and by PCGN in 1947.

Transliteration table

Where "г" sounds rather like /v/ or /w/, "ğ" and "ģ" have been proposed.

ee also

* Informal romanizations of Russian
*Romanization of Bulgarian
*Romanization of Ukrainian
*Romanization of Macedonian
*Computer russification
*Volapuk encoding
*Russian Chat Alphabet
*Faux Cyrillic
*"Kyrillisches Alphabet" (from the German Wikipedia) shows how to transliterate between Russian and German.
*GOST standards


*U.S. Board on Geographic Names Foreign Names Committee Staff, 1994. "Romanization Systems and Roman-Script Spelling Conventions", pp. 84-85.

External links

* [ Online Russian Transliterator, supports both GOST 7.79 "System B" and ISO 9 standards]
* [ Online Free Transliterator for Russian]
* [ Summary of romanization systems for Russian] (Adobe PDF) by Thomas T. Pedersen.
* [ United Nations-recommended romanization system for Russian] (Adobe PDF)
* [ American Library Association & Library of Congress Romanization]
* [ Russian toponym translations and transliterations database]
* [ Comparative transliteration of Russian] into various European languages, Morse, Braille, Georgian and Arabic
* [ Umschrift des russischen Alphabets] —Russian transliteration in several systems, including DIN 1460 (1982) [=ISO/R9:1968] , GOST ST SEV 1362 (1978), and BSI BS 2979 (1958)
* [ GOST 7.79-2000] (in Russian) — System of standards on information, librarianship and publishing. Rules of transliteration of Cyrillic script by Latin alphabet.

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