Friday, January 26, 2007

Lesson 15 - Russian Cursive (Letter "А")

Today you will learn to write Russian cursive "А". I will include more than one letter in my future lessons.
Thanks to one of my listeners I was able to upload a "Russian Cursive Workbook" in the DOWNLOADS section on the right.

The Cyrillic alphabet was adopted by the Slavs in about the 9th century. Although it is named after St. Cyril (Constantine), it was not invented by St. Cyril. It is based on the system of Greek capital letters. If you know the Greek alphabet, many of the letters will be familiar to you.
The Cyrillic alphabet, with some modifications, is used by many nations in Europe and Asia, including Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Mongolia, to name only a few.

Few Americans write in cursive script anymore. All Russians write in cursive. You won't need to learn cursive to "get by" such as reading street signs or newspapers, and Russians will be able to read your notes if you print your letters. But you'll need to learn cursive to read Russians' handwriting. If you want to learn "good Russian" then learn to write in cursive. If you just want to "get by" on vacation you can skip this.

Russian cursive letters looks quite different from Russian printed letters. Some letters look like English cursive letters, but represent different letters. The bane of Russian cursive is the letters м т л и ш щ ц, which look almost identical.

Upper- and lower-case cursive letters look quite different. Thus Russians use three distinct alphabets: printed, upper-case cursive, and lower-case cursive.

In this example, each letter--upper and lower case--is followed by the same letter in Russian cursive. You will notice that in the block style, the only difference between the upper and lower case letters is the size. In the cursive style, certain letters distinguish between upper and lower case.

(Please follow the video for this lesson. Just click on the title of the blog entry.)


Anonymous said...

I'm a middle-aged man who taught himself to write Russian cursive from an old Soviet book called "Fifty Lessons in Russian" by Potapova. Russians tell me my Cyrillic penmanship is very precise, but that it looks like "a girl wrote it". I wonder if this could be because the old writing I learned from is more squiggly and swirly than the way people write today.

In any case, I don't need help writing Russian cursive, but since that's the ONLY way I have ever learned to write, I have trouble printing in Russian.

Natalia said...

Anonymous, you are right. In the early Soviet times cursive that was taught at schools was more 'swirly and curly' :) But I find it beautiful.

I am happy to tell you that after the cursive course I'll be going quickly over Russian print!

Bresslau said...

Helllo Natalia,

I just found your blog, and I believe it will be very useful for my Russian learning, although I still have ot figure out in which sequence I'll use the articles.

The idea of teaching cursive writing is very good, thank you. As you probably saw yourself, it is very difficult to get training on this on the internet.

One of my concerns is to learn how to connect letters properly, do that an "m" is an "m" and not an "i" (ok, this one is easy, but you get the point).

In this sense, using the letters in words is very important, and I wish that you had more examples of the different letters in cursive text.

Maybe just a scan of a very clearly written Russian text in cursive and block letters might be enough to give us many good examples of some actual and deciphrable handwriting.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I, like Fernando, would enjoy seeing paragraphs or pages of Russian Cyrillic cursive. Seeing how the letters connect is critical to having one's penmanship decipherable. I want to write as a local would! Also, do you know of any links which show vowel combinations? ex: what two letters make the long (English) A sound? I sound? OY sound? OW sound (as in ouch)? short i sound as in pick? not the cyrillic bl as that sounds like the French eu in peu or feu...
good site though; wish I weren't on dial up. video's take nearly an hour to come through :( sincerely

Natalia said...


I looked long and hard, but found only 2 sites that might be of interest to you. Looks like I'll have to write my own text in Cyrillic script and post it up:)

In the meantime, check these out: