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Author Topic: How to Learn Cyrillic  (Read 3174 times) Average Rating: 0
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TheMathematician
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« on: November 12, 2013, 12:34:39 PM »

Okay, one of the biggest problems I have with Serbian/OCS and the like is that they utilize the cyrillic alphabet, which I have no experience in, nor do I have experience learning a new alphabet.

My question is, how would I, or anyone go about learning a new alphabet? (That is not their native one learned from birth)

(I realize that Serbian is written in both, but everything official I see is in Cyrillic)
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 12:36:57 PM »


I don't know Serbian, but, I can help you out with Ukrainian use of cyrillic.

I have a chart of all the letters and what sounds they make.

I know there are a few differences, but, most of the letters are the same, with similar sounds.

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2013, 12:38:03 PM »

I learnt Cyrillic when I was about 8. I can't help you. I have no idea how learning new alphabet as an adult looks like.
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2013, 12:40:04 PM »

This may help.
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2013, 12:42:35 PM »

Serbian Cyrillic is funny. They omit vowels and have "j" sign. It's enough to make my brains melt.
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2013, 12:45:51 PM »

One suggestion I can think of is taking the time to practice writing each letter, especially if you're a visual or kinetic learner. That really helped me learn the Malayalam letters.
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2013, 12:46:35 PM »

The website Omniglot, which is dedicated to scripts and languages, has a Serbian page with a lot of resources which will probably help. I guess if you're only looking to learn the script you could even just copy and paste the jpeg of the alphabet found on that page and enlarge it, print it out and put it somewhere where you'll study it.

Cyrillic (in any form; each Slavic language has adaptations for its unique phonology that are not found in other varieties) is really not too difficult to learn. It's been years now since I spoke Russian or lived in a Russian environment, but out of everything ability to read the language has stayed the most stable even completely isolated from it. Invest a little time and I'm sure you'll be reading everything like a pro in no time.
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2013, 02:09:51 PM »

That really helped me learn the Malayalam letters.

Now there's a challenging signary indeed. Compared to this, Serbian Cyrillic should be a piece of cake...

Malayalam script consists of a total of 578 characters. The script contains 52 letters including 16 vowels and 36 consonants, which forms 576 syllabic characters, and contains two additional diacritic characters named anusvāra and visarga. The earlier style of writing has been superseded by a new style as of 1981. This new script reduces the different letters for typesetting from 900 to fewer than 90. This was mainly done to include Malayalam in the keyboards of typewriters and computers.

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/malayalam.htm
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2013, 02:23:13 PM »

The thing about Malayalam, though, is that it's a syllabary or syllabic alphabet. Syallabaries tend to be quite large compared to non-syllabic alphabets because they generate variant forms to cover all possible syllables in a language, rather than creating syllables by combining a smaller set of individual characters, as we do with the Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic, and other scripts. So you get larger numbers, but they're more like permutations of a base character than actually distinct forms. "ba", "be", "bi", bo", etc. will all be as similar to each other (roughly) as upper and lowercase forms in Latin script, or initial/medial/final forms in Perso-Arabic. I have never studied Malayalam, but I have studied Amharic (one of the Ethiopian Semitic languages written in the Ge'ez syllabary), which divides its alphabet into 6 or 7 "orders" (IIRC), which differ by the addition of vowel markers in the same as Malayalam characters do. So I can "read" Amharic (sort of), but sometimes get confused between the different forms still because I'm not as strong with the vowel diacritics as I am with the base forms. It's a weird experience for sure ("Hmmm...that's...some form of D, some form of H, some form of L...to the alphabet table to decode this further!"), but it's not quite as unwieldy as it might first seem if you're counting the total number of signs.

Amharic syllabary/fidel
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2013, 02:26:22 PM »

With a few exceptions, if you know Greek letters you can get the gist of Cyrillic ones.
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2013, 02:27:24 PM »

With a few exceptions, if you know Greek letters you can get the gist of Cyrillic ones.

LOL. Depends what cyrillic.
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2013, 02:34:54 PM »

That really helped me learn the Malayalam letters.

Now there's a challenging signary indeed. Compared to this, Serbian Cyrillic should be a piece of cake...

Malayalam script consists of a total of 578 characters. The script contains 52 letters including 16 vowels and 36 consonants, which forms 576 syllabic characters, and contains two additional diacritic characters named anusvāra and visarga. The earlier style of writing has been superseded by a new style as of 1981. This new script reduces the different letters for typesetting from 900 to fewer than 90. This was mainly done to include Malayalam in the keyboards of typewriters and computers.

To be fair, a lot of the old letters were basically ligatures, so it's not like they got rid of those letters completely. They just added more "diacritical marks" to replace the ligatures. (The diacritics actually go on either side of the letter instead of on top or below, which ends up making them function almost like any other letter).
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2013, 02:40:09 PM »

(The diacritics actually go on either side of the letter instead of on top or below, which ends up making them function almost like any other letter).

ąśżźćёęўŭčš

Really?
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2013, 03:19:22 PM »

To be fair, a lot of the old letters were basically ligatures, so it's not like they got rid of those letters completely. They just added more "diacritical marks" to replace the ligatures. (The diacritics actually go on either side of the letter instead of on top or below, which ends up making them function almost like any other letter).

Do ligatures also occur for consonantal clusters like in devanagari (those yield some 1296 combinations from 36 basic signs!) or just consonant + vowel? (Modern) Malayalam script seems more disconnected than devanagari, but perhaps it's just the missing upper bar that makes it look that way.
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2013, 03:26:18 PM »

By becoming a Dutch.

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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2013, 03:38:20 PM »

By becoming a Dutch.



Pardon me, but I think the proper term is Klompenhebbner.

</clearly knows what the Dutch are up to>
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2013, 03:49:14 PM »

To be fair, a lot of the old letters were basically ligatures, so it's not like they got rid of those letters completely. They just added more "diacritical marks" to replace the ligatures. (The diacritics actually go on either side of the letter instead of on top or below, which ends up making them function almost like any other letter).

Do ligatures also occur for consonantal clusters like in devanagari (those yield some 1296 combinations from 36 basic signs!) or just consonant + vowel? (Modern) Malayalam script seems more disconnected than devanagari, but perhaps it's just the missing upper bar.

Yeah there are quite a few for consonant clusters. A lot of double letters have their own ligature, for example: ത (tha) + ത = ത്ത (ththa) or പ (pa) + പ = പ്പ (ppa)

There are also others for separate consonants. e.g. ക (ka) + ഷ (sha) = ക്ഷ (ksha), or ന (na) + ത (tha) = ന്ത (ntha).
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2013, 04:07:04 PM »

Yeah there are quite a few for consonant clusters. A lot of double letters have their own ligature, for example: ത (tha) + ത = ത്ത (ththa) or പ (pa) + പ = പ്പ (ppa)

There are also others for separate consonants. e.g. ക (ka) + ഷ (sha) = ക്ഷ (ksha), or ന (na) + ത (tha) = ന്ത (ntha).

Neat!

Byzantine Greek was also written with ligatures.
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2013, 11:48:22 PM »

Thank you all, for your help.

Also, follow up question. What is the best way to associate them with their latin letters and sounds, so I learn what the letter is, rather than it just be a pretty picture?
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« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2013, 12:26:39 AM »

Thank you all, for your help.

Also, follow up question. What is the best way to associate them with their latin letters and sounds, so I learn what the letter is, rather than it just be a pretty picture?

I will try to find a picture whoch has both alphabets...if not then will type it out.myself. Have in mind that in Serbian language each letter stands for a single sound. Since you are Mathematician, I think you will find it quite easy.
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« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2013, 12:54:59 AM »



The clarification regarding the sound-pronunciation might not be the easiest...so if you want I can elaborate on that. Do all Cyrillic letters (including the ones that look the same in roman alphabet as A, E give you trouble with pronunciation or just specific ones?

By the way, have you asked for free Serbian lessons at your parish? If there is none available, ask questions and I will try my best to help you.
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« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2013, 10:19:08 PM »

I was hoping this thread was going to teach me how to become like our poster Cyrillic. (My guess is that step one involves reading more Ancient Greek literature.)
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« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2013, 03:07:22 AM »

Yeah there are quite a few for consonant clusters. A lot of double letters have their own ligature, for example: ത (tha) + ത = ത്ത (ththa) or പ (pa) + പ = പ്പ (ppa)

There are also others for separate consonants. e.g. ക (ka) + ഷ (sha) = ക്ഷ (ksha), or ന (na) + ത (tha) = ന്ത (ntha).

Neat!

Byzantine Greek was also written with ligatures.
Somewhere I have a chart.  they go on and on.  Verges on Chinese.
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« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2013, 03:07:22 AM »



The clarification regarding the sound-pronunciation might not be the easiest...so if you want I can elaborate on that. Do all Cyrillic letters (including the ones that look the same in roman alphabet as A, E give you trouble with pronunciation or just specific ones?

By the way, have you asked for free Serbian lessons at your parish? If there is none available, ask questions and I will try my best to help you.

I just learned the alphabet straight (Ukrainian), but I've seen a system (for Russian) which has people first learn the letters that are like the Latin letters and have similar sounds (O, for instance).
Then letters that look like Latin letters but do NOT have the same sound (P, for instance).
Then letters that look like Latin letters but have an unfamiliar sound (X, for instance).
Then letters which do not look like Latin letters but have familiar sounds (б, for instance).
Then letters which do not look like Latin letters and have unfamiliar sounds (љ for instance).
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« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2014, 07:54:46 AM »


or ന (na)

Are we going to ignore that this happened? Or nah?... I digress.
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« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2014, 08:14:47 AM »

The title of this thread certainly startled me.
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« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2014, 08:15:51 AM »

Perhaps this may help:

http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/language/
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« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2014, 10:23:57 AM »

The title of this thread certainly startled me.

Considering it's quite the impossible task...Wink
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« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2014, 12:43:06 PM »

Sorry, I wrote the message below because I thought you were learning Russian, then I realised you're learning Serbian and OCS but I can't delete my message!  Never mind, maybe it applies to those other languages as well?

Hi, don't get discouraged, once you know the Russian alphabet, spelling is really easy because words in Russian sound exactly like they're spelt in Cyrillic.  If you hear an unfamiliar word, you will be able to guess how it is spelt and look it up in a dictionary without seeing it written down.  It's really worth the effort!  Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2014, 12:45:17 PM »

I made flash cards....

the Cyrillic letter on one side and both the -name- of it and the sound on the other....

just go through them six million 453 times....and you are good.

Wink

I didn't even try matching them in words until i just had them memorized.  It saves time later...
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« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2014, 05:11:39 AM »

I realise that this is an older thread but in case that thread started still needs help with Serbian and/or Serbian cyrillic:

About the language itself, with grammar:
http://www.srpskibre.com/
Translator from latin to cyrillic:
http://recnik.biz/latinica-u-cirilicu
Free courses:
http://www.memrise.com/courses/english/?q=serbian
and:
http://www.memrise.com/course/96678/cyrillic-alphabet-serbian/
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