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The
Russian orthography Russian orthography (russian: правописа́ние, r=pravopisaniye, p=prəvəpʲɪˈsanʲɪjə) is formally considered to encompass spelling ( rus, орфогра́фия, r=orfografiya, p=ɐrfɐˈɡrafʲɪjə) and punctuation ( rus, пу ...
has been reformed officially and unofficially by changing the
Russian alphabet The Russian alphabet ( rus, ру́сский алфави́т, russkiy alfavit, ˈruskʲɪj ɐlfɐˈvʲit or, more traditionally, rus, ру́сская а́збука, russkaya azbuka, ˈruskəjə ˈazbʊkə) was derived from Cyrillic script fo ...

Russian alphabet
over the course of the history of the
Russian language Russian (, tr. ''russkiy yazyk'') is an East Slavic language The East Slavic languages constitute one of the three regional subgroups of Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European lang ...
. Several important reforms happened in the 18th–20th centuries.


Early changes

Old East Slavic Old East Slavic (traditionally also: Old Russian, be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 10th–15th centuries by East ...
adopted the
Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, Uralic languages, Uralic, Caucas ...
, approximately during the 10th century and at about the same time as the introduction of
Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), ...
into the territories inhabited by the Eastern
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central Europe, ...

Slavs
. No distinction was drawn between the vernacular language and the liturgical, though the latter was based on South Slavic rather than
Eastern Slavic East Slavic may refer to: * East Slavic languages, one of three branches of the Slavic languages * East Slavs, a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the East Slavic languages See also

* Old East Slavic, a language used during the 10th–15th ...
norms. As the language evolved, several letters, notably the ''
yus Little yus (Ѧ ѧ) and big yus (Ѫ ѫ), or jus, are letters of the Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a used for various languages across and is used as the national script in various , , , , and -speaking countries in , , ...

yus
es'' (Ѫ, Ѭ, Ѧ, Ѩ) were gradually and unsystematically discarded from both secular and church usage over the next centuries. The emergence of the centralized Russian state in the 15th and 16th centuries, the consequent rise of the state bureaucracy along with the development of the common economic, political and cultural space necessitated the standardization of the language used in administrative and legal affairs. It was due to that reason that the earliest attempts at standardizing Russian, both in terms of the vocabulary and in terms of the orthography were made, initially based on the so-called Moscow chancery language. From then and on the underlying logic of language reforms in Russia reflected primarily the considerations of standardizing and streamlining language norms and rules in order to ensure the language's role as a practical tool of communication and administration.


18th-century changes

The printed
Russian alphabet The Russian alphabet ( rus, ру́сский алфави́т, russkiy alfavit, ˈruskʲɪj ɐlfɐˈvʲit or, more traditionally, rus, ру́сская а́збука, russkaya azbuka, ˈruskəjə ˈazbʊkə) was derived from Cyrillic script fo ...

Russian alphabet
began to assume its modern shape when
Peter I Peter I may refer to: Religious hierarchs * Saint Peter (c. 1 AD – c. 64–88 AD), a.k.a. Simon Peter, Simeon, or Simon, apostle of Jesus * Pope Peter I of Alexandria (died 311), revered as a saint * Peter I of Armenia (died 1058), Catholicos ...

Peter I
introduced his " civil script" () type reform in 1708. The reform was not specifically orthographic in nature. However, with the replacement of
Ѧ
Ѧ
with and the effective elimination of several letters (Ѯ, Ѱ, Ѡ) and all diacritics and accents (with the exception of ) from secular usage and the use of
Arabic numerals Arabic numerals are the ten numerical digit A numerical digit (often shortened to just digit) is a single symbol used alone (such as "2") or in combinations (such as "25"), to represent numbers in a Positional notation, positional numeral sy ...

Arabic numerals
instead of
Cyrillic numerals Cyrillic numerals are a numeral system derived from the Cyrillic script, developed in the First Bulgarian Empire in the late 10th century. It was used in the First Bulgarian Empire and by South Slavs, South and East Slavs, East Slavic peoples. Th ...
there appeared for the first time a visual distinction between Russian and
Church Slavonic Church Slavonic (црькъвьнословѣньскъ ѩзыкъ, ''crĭkŭvĭnoslověnĭskŭ językŭ'', literally "Church-Slavonic language"), also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic or New Church Slavic, is the conservative ...
writing. With the strength of the historic tradition diminishing, Russian spelling in the 18th century became rather inconsistent, both in practice and in theory, as
Mikhail Lomonosov Mikhail (Mikhaylo) Vasilyevich Lomonosov (; russian: Михаил (Михайло) Васильевич Ломоносов, p=mʲɪxɐˈil vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ , a=Ru-Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov.ogg; – ) was a Russian Empire, Russian ...

Mikhail Lomonosov
advocated a morphophonemic orthography and
Vasily Trediakovsky Vasily Kirillovich Trediakovsky (russian: Васи́лий Кири́ллович Тредиако́вский ; in Astrakhan Astrakhan ( rus, Астрахань, p=ˈastrəxənʲ), is the largest city and administrative centreAn administrati ...
a phonemic one.


19th-century changes

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, miscellaneous adjustments were made ''ad hoc'', as the Russian
literary language A literary language is the form (register) of a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...
came to assume its modern and highly standardized form. These included the introduction of the letter ( yo) and the gradual loss of (
izhitsa Izhitsa (Ѵ, ѵ; italics: ''Ѵ ѵ''; OCS: Ѷжица, russian: И́жица) is a letter of the early Cyrillic alphabet The Early Cyrillic alphabet, also called classical Cyrillic or paleo-Cyrillic, is a writing system A writing sy ...

izhitsa
, corresponding to the Greek ''upsilon'' υ and the Latin y), in favor of or (both of which represented ); and (corresponding to the Greek ''theta''), in favor of or . (The standard Russian language neither has nor ever had a
voiceless dental fricative The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phonetic ...

voiceless dental fricative
. The was used only for foreign words, particularly Greek.) By 1917, the only two words still spelled with were (, , 'myrrh') and (, , 'synod'), and rarely even at that. The remained more common, though it became quite rare as a "Western" (
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of co ...

French
-like) pronunciation had been adopted for many words; for example, (, , 'theater') became (, ). Attempts to reduce spelling inconsistency culminated in the standard textbook of Grot (1885), which retained its authority through 21 editions until the
Russian Revolution of 1917 The Russian Revolution was a period of Political revolution, political and social revolution that took place in the former Russian Empire and began during the First World War. Commencing in 1917 with the fall of the House of Romanov and conc ...
. His fusion of the morphological, phonetic, and historic principles of
Russian orthography Russian orthography (russian: правописа́ние, r=pravopisaniye, p=prəvəpʲɪˈsanʲɪjə) is formally considered to encompass spelling ( rus, орфогра́фия, r=orfografiya, p=ɐrfɐˈɡrafʲɪjə) and punctuation ( rus, пу ...
remains valid to this day, though both the
Russian alphabet The Russian alphabet ( rus, ру́сский алфави́т, russkiy alfavit, ˈruskʲɪj ɐlfɐˈvʲit or, more traditionally, rus, ру́сская а́збука, russkaya azbuka, ˈruskəjə ˈazbʊkə) was derived from Cyrillic script fo ...

Russian alphabet
and the writing of many individual words have been altered through a complicated but extremely consistent system of
spelling rule In Russian language, Russian, the term spelling rule is used to describe a number of rules relating to the spelling of words in the language that would appear in most cases to deviate from a strictly phonetic transcription. All the spelling rules f ...
s that tell which of two vowels to use under all conditions.


The post-revolution reform

The most recent major reform of Russian spelling was prepared by
Aleksey Shakhmatov Alexei Alexandrovich Shakhmatov (russian: Алексе́й Алекса́ндрович Ша́хматов, – 16 August 1920) was a Russian Empire, Russian Imperial philology, philologist and historian credited with laying foundations for ...
and implemented shortly after the
Bolshevik The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...

Bolshevik
revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, suc ...

revolution
of November 1917. Shakhmatov headed the Assembly for Considering Simplification of the Orthography whose proposals of 11 May 1917 formed the basis of the new rules soon adopted by the Ministry of Popular Education.


Specific changes

Russian
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
was made simpler and easier by unifying several adjectival and pronominal inflections, conflating the letter (
Yat Yat or Jat (Ѣ ѣ; italics: ''Ѣ ѣ'') is the thirty-second letter of the old Cyrillic alphabet. There is also another version of Yat, the iotified Yat (majuscule: , minuscule: ), which is a Cyrillic character combining a decimal ...

Yat
) with , with , and (depending on the context of Moscovian pronunciation) and with . Additionally, the archaic mute ''yer'' became obsolete, including the (the "
hard sign The letter Ъ (italics ''Ъ'', ''ъ'') of the Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turk ...
") in final position following consonants (thus eliminating practically the last graphical remnant of the Old Slavonic open-syllable system). For instance, became ("
Rybinsk Rybinsk ( rus, Рыбинск, p=ˈrɨbʲɪnsk), the second largest types of inhabited localities in Russia, city of Yaroslavl Oblast in Russia, lies at the confluence of the Volga River, Volga and Sheksna Rivers, 267 kilometers north-north-eas ...
").


Practical implementation

In December 1917 the People's Commissariat of Education, headed by
A. V. Lunacharsky Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky (born Anatoly Aleksandrovich Antonov, – 26 December 1933) was a Russian Marxist Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as ...
, issued a decree stating, "All state and government institutions and schools without exception should carry out the transition to the new orthography without delay. From the 1st of January 1918, all government and state publications, both periodical and non-periodical were to be printed in the new style." The decree was nearly identical to the proposals put forth by the May Assembly, and with other minor modifications formed the substance of the decree issued by the Soviet of People's Commissars in October 1918. Although generally praised by the Russian
working class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via waged or salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation of workers by collar color ...
, the reform was unpopular amongst conservatives, religious leaders and many prominent writers, many of whom were oppositional to the new state. In this way, private publications could formally be printed using the old (or more generally, any convenient) orthography. The decree forbade the retraining of people previously trained under the old norm. A given spelling was considered a misspelling only if it violated both the old and the new norms. However, in practice, the Soviet government rapidly set up a
monopoly A monopoly (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...

monopoly
on print production and kept a very close eye on the fulfillment of the edict. A common practice was the removal of not just the letters , , and from printing offices, but also . Because of this, the usage of the
apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of wri ...

apostrophe
as a dividing sign became widespread in place of (e.g., , instead of , ), and came to be perceived as a part of the reform (even if, from the point of view of the letter of the decree of the
Council of People's Commissars The Council of People's Commissars (SNK; russian: Совет народных комиссаров (СНК), ''Sovet narodnykh kommissarov''), commonly known as the ''Sovnarkom'' (Совнарком), were the highest executive authorities of the ...
, such uses were mistakes). Nonetheless, some academic printings (connected with the publication of old works, documents or printings whose typesettings predated the revolution) came out in the old orthography (except
title page The title page of a book, thesis or other written work is the page at or near the front which displays its title (publishing), title, subtitle, author, publisher, and edition. (A half title, by contrast, displays only the title of a work.) In boo ...

title page
s and, often,
preface __NOTOC__ A preface () or proem () is an introduction to a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of informa ...

preface
s) up until 1929. Russian – and later Soviet –
railroads Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport, transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on Track (rail transport), tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the vehi ...
operated
locomotive A locomotive or engine is a rail transport Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is a man-made ...

locomotive
s with designations of "", "" and "". Despite the reformed orthography, the series names remained unchanged up until these locomotives were discontinued in the 1950s. Some Russian émigré publications continued to appear in the former orthography until the 1970s.


Favourable aspects of the reform

The reform reduced the number of orthographic rules having no support in pronunciation—for example, the difference of the genders in the plural and the need to learn a long list of words which were written with "yat"s (the composition of said list was controversial among linguists, and different spelling guides contradicted one another). The reform resulted in some economy in writing and
typesetting on a composing stick on a type case. , letter founder, from the 1728 edition of '' Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Cyclopaedia''. . Typesetting is the composition of Written language, text by means of arranging ph ...
, due to the exclusion of at the end of words—by the reckoning of
Lev Uspensky Lev Vasilyevich Uspensky (russian: Лев Васильевич Успенский, 8 February 1900 – 18 December 1978) was a Russian writer and philologist, known for his popular science books in linguistics.homophonous A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
graphemes In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
from the Russian alphabet (i.e., and ; and Ф; and the trio of , and ), bringing the alphabet closer to Russian's actual phonological system.


More recent modifications

While there have not been any significant changes since the 1918 decree, debates and fluctuations have to some degree continued. In December 1942, the use of letter Ё was made mandatory by Decree No. 1825 of the People's Commissariat of Education. A codification of the rules of Russian orthography and punctuation was published in 1956 but only a few minor orthographic changes were introduced at that time. The 1956 codification additionally included a clarification of new rules for punctuation developed during the 1930s, and which had not been mentioned in the 1918 decree. A notable instance of renewed debate followed A.I. Efimov's 1962 publication of an article in
Izvestia ''Izvestia'' ( rus, Известия, p=ɪzˈvʲesʲtʲɪjə, "The News") is a daily broadsheet A broadsheet is the largest newspaper format and is characterized by long vertical pages, typically of . Other common newspaper formats include ...

Izvestia
. The article proposed extensive reform to move closer to a phonetic representation of the language. Following the renewed discussion in papers and journals a new Orthographic Commission began work in 1962, under the Russian Language Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The Commission published its report, ' (Proposal for the Improvement of Russian Orthography), in 1964. The publication resulted in widespread debate in newspapers, journals, and on radio and television, as well as over 10,000 letters, all of which were passed to the institute. Responses to the article pointed to the need to simplify Russian spelling due to the use of Russian as the language of international communication in the Soviet Union and an increased study of Russian in the Eastern Bloc as well as in the West. That instruction for non-native speakers of Russian was one of the central concerns of further reform is indicated in the resistance to Efimov's proposal to drop the terminal "ь" (soft sign) from feminine nouns, as it helps learners identify gender category. Additionally, Efimov claimed that a disproportionate amount of primary school class time was devoted to orthography, rather than phonetics and morphology. Efimov asserted that the existing orthography was essentially unchanged since Grot's codification, and that only by bringing orthography closer to phonetic realization, and eliminating exceptions and variants, could appropriate attention be paid to stylistics and the "development of speech culture". The state's focus on proper instruction in Russian, as the national language of ethnic Russians, as the state language, and as the language of international communication continues to the present day.


Encoding

The
IETF language tag An IETF BCP 47 language tag is a standardized code or tag that is used to identify human languages in internet programming as used by computing standards such as HTTP The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer An applica ...
s have registered: * for text from the Peter reforms of 1708 until the 1917 reforms. * for text following the 1917-1918 reforms.


See also

*
YoficatorImage:Cyrillic YO.png, 100px, Yo (Cyrillic), Yo A yoficator or joficator (russian: Ёфикатор) is a computer program or extension for a text editor that restores the Cyrillic script, Cyrillic letter Yo (Cyrillic), Yo ⟨⟩ in Russian texts i ...


References and notes


External links


Criticism of 1917 reform

CyrAcademisator
Bi-directional online transliteration for ALA-LC (diacritics), scientific, ISO/R 9, ISO 9, GOST 7.79B and others. Supports pre-reform characters
The Writing on the Wall: The Russian Orthographic Reform of 1917
{{DEFAULTSORT:Reforms of Russian Orthography History of the Russian language
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and people ...
Russian orthography