Via Ilya Vinarsky comes this 1975 article (pdf format) by Eugene Garfield urging Russians to give up their ugly Cyrillic (“Cyrillic has nothing but capitals”) for the flexible, international Roman alphabet. Before you join the lynch mob (“I have been accused of scientific and linguistic imperialism and chauvinism…”), let me remind you that none other than Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov thought the same thing! (Edmund Wilson, naturally, disagreed: “This alphabet, since five useless characters were got rid of at the time of the Revolution, is one of the only features of Russian that are really convenient and logical—far more practical than the English alphabet.”)


  1. The more alphabets the better, as far as I’m concerned. Software and soft screens now undo the rigidities of centuries of metal type which pushed for conformity (RIP the lovely Javanese script for example)

    Everyone overemphasises the role of language in communicating, and underemphasises the separating role – the way it marks out who is in a group, and makes them feel closer to each other, and makes other people feel they’ve arrived somewhere different at last!

    Variety is more than the spice of life, I think. I was disappointed that Hungarian didn’t have a different alphabet.

  2. I’m happy to join the lynch mob — I can’t stand Vladimir Vladimirovich anyway. 🙂

    (I do like his novels, yes, but he should have stuck to fiction.)

  3. I agree — the more the merrier! I believe the Mongolians are trying to revive their old vertical script, which is quite beautiful (if impractical).

  4. I hope they succeed – that vertical script is gorgeous. I used to have a link to a very lush site in Spanish about Mongolian script – which sadly seems to have gone down.

    As it were.

  5. I have a friend whose writing a novel, some of which is in Romanized Russian, she’s too proud to ask for help, so I wondered if anyone could help me out with these:
    good day (formal and informal)
    It would sort out hours of bickering.
    Thankyou in advance

  6. Where can I find someone to email?

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