My parents used to have a gardener called Cyril. They’d felt obliged to take him on because he’d been the gardener for the people who used to live in our house. Unfortunately, a) Cyril was a bit strange and b) his gardening technique seemed to just be to cut the tops off all my parents’ plants with a chainsaw.
Like Cyril, the Cyrillic alphabet is also a bit strange to me… and trying to tackle it makes me feel a bit like cutting off my own head with a chainsaw. The main problem is not the new letters that it uses, but that a lot of letters that look familiar in fact make a totally different sound. For example, g is pronounced d, u is pronounced i and n is pronounced p. In the photo to the right, the top letter is pronounced ‘m’, the second ‘t’ and the third ‘sh.’ Simples.
Somewhat ironically, having not yet grasped the alphabet, we now have two days off from language school to celebrate… Cyrillic Alphabet Day. The Cyrillic alphabet came about because in 855 two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, developed an alphabet called Glagolic to better represent the sounds made by the Bulgarian language. This was later streamlined by others (and mixed up with a bit of Greek) to become the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet was used to spread Orthodox Christianity across the region, and Slavic became the fourth official language of the church (along with Latin, Greek and Hebrew). The Cyrillic alphabet is now used in Bulgaria, Russia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia and Mongolia and since Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, is the third official writing system of the European Union alongside the Roman and Greek alphabets. Fact.