July 2, 2009 | Russian
I confront the Russian alphabet. Or rather, it confronts me.
This morning I realized that, although I was now fairly well set up with Russian books, a Russian dictionary, and Russian CDs, I was missing something critical, and that thing was: Russian TV. Therefore, the day began with a call to my local cable company, Time Warner.
Such calls I generally consider to be among life’s most unpleasant tasks, but by the end of the conversation, which, although uninformative and confusing, was surprisingly not hideous, I had signed up for $30 of Russian channels, five total. It is not cheap to dedicate yourself to Russian television. To make sure I was getting my money’s worth, I promptly began watching it.
Naturally, I couldn’t understand a word. Which replicated my experience with my print materials.
When I opened those great books I got yesterday, they went straight into Russian grammar. I looked at the exercises and couldn’t read a word. Before I would be able to do anything, I needed to go more basic, a lot more basic, and learn the alphabet. Here is what I am up against:
А а Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ë Ж ж
З з И и Й й К к Л л М м Н н О о
П п Р р С с Т т У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц
Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь Э э
Ю ю Я я
Russian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, has 33 characters. And for each letter, there is a capital as well as a lower-case version.
Fortunately, many of the lower-case letters are just mini-versions of the capitals. Still, that’s a lot of letters!