Ukrainian Alphabet

Historical Retrospect

The Ukrainian alphabet traces its origins to the early Cyrillic alphabet that was brought to Kievan Rus, the early medieval Eastern Slavic state, in the 10th century with Christian religious teachings. The early Ukrainian alphabet, which was used in Kievan Rus, inherited all letters of Cyrillic.

In the 10th-13th centuries, the early Ukrainian literary language was formed on the basis of colloquial dialects spoken by people that lived on the territory of Kievan Rus. As the Ukrainian language developed the inconsistency between traditionally used Cyrillic letters and newly created Ukrainian sounds increased. As a result, letters in the Ukrainian written language mixed, which ruined the orthography.

In the 13th-18th centuries, there were attempts to bring the alphabet in line with the phonetics and grammar of the Ukrainian language. A reform of the Russian spelling of 1708-1710 had a major impact on the development and improvement of the Ukrainian spelling.

Letters ("omega"),("psi"),("ksi"),("zelo"),
("izhytsia",("yus velyky") and("yus maly") were eliminated from the alphabet as unnecessary. The letter "e" was introduced instead of; the letter "я" was legitimized instead of, etc. Also, a printed script was simplified and was called a "civil script".

New letters were introduced into the Ukrainian alphabet: "ґ " (17th century), "і", "є", and "ї" (19th century). They exist in the modern Ukrainian alphabet too. In Soviet times, the letter "ґ " was eliminated from the alphabet, but it was reintroduced in 1993.

During its history, the Ukrainian language was banned by public and secret decrees of Russian and Polish authorities many times. However, it has survived.

Modern Ukrainian Alphabet

The alphabet consists of 33 letters:

English sound
Audio file 1/
А аaarma
Б бbbackб
В вvvalerianв
Г гhhelloг
Ґ ґggainґ
Д дddahliaд
Е еemete
Є єieyesє
Ж жzhpleasureж
З зzzealз
И иyitи
І іiseei
Ї їiyippeeї
Й йy, iboyй
К кkkarmaк
Л лllabл
М мmmadeм
Н нnnameн
О оomoreo
П пppacificп
Р рrrealр
С сssongc
Т тttongueт
У уufoodу
Ф фffirstф
Х хkhChanukahx
Ц цtsquartzц
Ч чchteachч
Ш шshshaftш
Щ щschThere is no a similar sound in English. If you pronounce words “English Channel” with no break in between you’ll get this sound.щ
Ь ь--ь
Ю юiuyouю
Я яiayahooя

1/ Visual aids for audio files.

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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