Ukrainian Latin Alphabet
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Ukrainian Latin Alphabet

Frontpage of the book "Ruskoje wesile" (Ruthenian wedding, 1835) by Yosyp Lozynskyi which was a presentation of his Latin alphabet for Ruthenian (Ukrainian) language.

A Latin alphabet for the Ukrainian language (called Latynka) has been proposed or imposed several times in the history in Ukraine, but has never challenged the conventional Cyrillic Ukrainian alphabet.


The Ukrainian literary language has been written with the Cyrillic script in a tradition going back to the introduction of Christianity and the Old Church Slavonic language to Kievan Rus'. Proposals for Latinization, if not imposed for outright political reasons, have always been politically charged, and have never been generally accepted, although some proposals to create an official Latin alphabet for Ukrainian language have been expressed lately by national intelligentsia. Technically, most have resembled the linguistically related Polish and Czech alphabets.

While superficially similar to a Latin alphabet, transliteration of Ukrainian from Cyrillic into the Latin script (or romanization) is usually not intended for native speakers, and may be designed for certain academic requirements or technical constraints. See romanization of Ukrainian.

The Mozilla Add-ons website published the Ukrajinsjka Latynka extension to transliterate Ukrainian texts from Cyrillic to Latin script on web pages.[1]


Ukrainian was occasionally written in the Latin script as far back as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in publications using the Polish and Czech alphabets. In the nineteenth century, there were attempts to introduce the Latin script into Ukrainian writing, by Josyp ?ozy?skyj, a Ukrainian scholar and priest from Lviv (Josyp ?ozy?ski Ivanovy?, Ruskoje wesile, 1834), Tomasz Padura, and other Polish-Ukrainian romantic poets.

The use of the Latin script for Ukrainian was promoted by authorities in Galicia under the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Franz Miklosich developed a Latin alphabet for Ukrainian in 1852, based on the Polish and Czech alphabets (adopting Czech ?, ?, ?, d?, ?, ?, Polish ?, ?, ?, ?, and ? following the same pattern). Czech politician Josef Jire?ek took an interest in this concept, and managed to gain support for the project in the Imperial Ministry of Interior. As part of a Polonization campaign in Galicia during the period of neo-absolutist rule after 1849, Viceroy Agenor Go?uchowski attempted to impose this Latin alphabet on Ukrainian publications in 1859. This started a fierce publicly debated "War of the Alphabets", and in the end the Latin alphabet was rejected. Ukrainian books continued to be published in Cyrillic, while the Latin alphabet was used in special editions "for those who read Polish only" in Galicia, Podlaskie, and the Che?m region.

A Latin alphabet for Ukrainian publications was also imposed in Romanian Bessarabia, Bukovina and Dobrudja, Hungarian Zakarpattia. It was also used by immigrants from these regions in the United States.

In Ukraine under the Russian Empire, Mykhailo Drahomanov promoted a purely phonemic Cyrillic alphabet (the Drahomanivka) including the Latin letter ? in 1876, replacing the digraphs ?, ?, ?, ? with , , , , similar to the earlier Karad?i? reform of the Serbian alphabet. The Ems Ukaz banning Ukrainian-language publication doomed this reform to obscurity.

In Soviet Ukraine, during the 1927 orthographical conference in Kharkiv, linguists Maik Yohansen, Borys Tkachenko, and Mykola Nakonechnyi proposed the application of the more "international" Latin script to Ukrainian, but the idea was opposed by Soviet government representatives. Later, Vasyl Simovych was a proponent of the Latin script during the tentative Latinization in the USSR.



Some letters borrowed from Polish were used in the Ukrainian ?atynka as stated above, which also has a close resemblance to the Belarusian ?acinka. Although never broadly accepted, it was used mostly by Ukrainians living in territories near Poland (where it was called Abecad?o).[2] The orthography is explained in ?atynycia, a western Ukrainian publication of the 1900s.

The Ukrainian Latin alphabet: Abecad?o
(a western Ukrainian publication, c.1900s)
A a B b C c ? ? Cz cz D d D? d? E e F f G g
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
H h I i J j K k L l ? ? M m N n ? ? O o
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
P p R r ? ? S s ? ? Sz sz T t T? t? U u W w
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Y y Z z ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? ? ?

As example, the Introduction of Josyp ?ozyn?kyj's Ruskoje Wesile ('Ruthenian Wedding', 1834):

W tym opysi skazuju, jaksia wesile po se?ach me?y prostym ruskim ludom widprawlaje. Ne mohu jednako utrymowaty, jakoby toj sposób wesile widprawlaty wsiude newidminni by? zachowanym; bo hdenekodyj szczo? dodajut, hdeinde szczo? wypuskajut, a znowu hdeinde szczo? widminiajut. Sy?a w mojej syli by?o, stara?-jemsia w rozmaitych misciach obradki i pisny ruskoho wesila póznaty i pérekona?-jemsia ?e prynajmni szczo do ho?ownych obradkiw i pisnéj wsiude tym?e samym sposobom wesilesia widprawlaje. I toj sposób opysa?jem w nynijsz?j kny?oczci dodajuczy jednako hdenekodyj i miscowyi widminy. Moim najperszym i najbohatszym a nawet? i nihdy newyczerpanym ?rid?om, z kotorohom tyi widomosty czerpa?, by?o dopytowanie po se?ach tych ludej, kotryi czasto na wesilach bywa?y i wesilnyi u?ady pistowa?y. Nykotorych obradkiw by? jem sam okozritelnym ?widkom.

Jire?ek's project

Josef Jire?ek proposed an alphabet based more closely on Czech orthography (except some Polish letters like ?, ?, ?, ?).

Jire?ek's project
A a B b C c ? ? ? ? Ch ch D d ? ? Dz dz D? d?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
D? d? E e ? ? F f G g H h I i J j K k L l
? ? ? ?1 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (?) (?) ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? M m N n ? ? O o P p R r ? ? S s
?(?) ?(?) ? ?2 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? T t ? ? U u ü V v W w X x
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?3 ? ? ? ?4 4
Y y Z z ? ? ? ?
? ? ? ? ? ?
  1. ^ For ? which is used in place of Old Church Slavonic ? or Polish ? (e.g. s?hnuty, d?kovaly, stje, dev).
  2. ^ For ? in old Slavic ?l + cons. (e.g. vo?k). Jire?ek mistakenly believed there are three types of L in Ukrainian - hard (hart) l, soft (erweicht) ? and potentiated hard (potenziert hart) ?.
  3. ^ For ?, which derives from Old Church Slavonic ? (as Jire?ek distinguished ? < ? and ? < ?, ?). EG. - küs?, - hvü.
  4. ^ In foreign words only.

Modern versions

In modern Ukraine, use of Latin alphabets for the Ukrainian language is very rare. However, discussions of a united format of Latynka and its status still continue. The most popular modern versions are Luchukivka (based on Czech orthography close to Jire?ek's project and presented by Ivan Luchuk) and Ukrainian Gajica (based on Croatian orthography). In western Ukraine, the Abecad?o alphabet is also used, but to a lesser extent than Luchukivka.


Comparison of two traditional and two modern versions of Ukrainian Latin alphabet in example of the national anthem of Ukraine (pre-2003 lyrics).

?ozyn?kyj's Luchuk's[3]
Szcze ne wmer?a Ukrajiny ni s?awa, ni wola.
Szcze nam, brattia ukrajinci, usmichnet?sia dola.
Zhynut? naszi wori?e?ky, jak rosa na sonci,
Zapanujem i my, brattia, u swojij storonci.

Duszu j ti?o my po?o?ym za naszu swobodu,
I poka?em, szczo my, brattia, koza?koho rodu.
e ne vmerla Ukrajiny ni slava, ni volia.
e nam, brattia ukrajinci, usmichne?sia dolia.
Zhynu? na?i vori?e?ky, jak rosa na sonci,
Zapanujem i my, brattia, u svojij storonci.

Du?u j tilo my polo?ym za na?u svobodu,
I poka?em, o my, brattia, koza?koho rodu.
Jire?ek's Gajica based[4]
e ne vmerla Ukrajiny ni slava, ni vo?a.
e nam, brat?a ukrajinci, usmichnea do?a.
Zhynu? na?i vorü?e?ky, jak rosa na sonci,
Zapanujem i my, brat?a, u svojij storonci.

Du?u j tilo my polo?ym za na?u svobodu,
I poka?em, o my, brat?a, koza?koho rodu.
e ne vmerla Ukrajiny ni slava, ni volja.
e nam, brattja ukrajinci, usmixnetjsja dolja.
Zhynutj na?i vori?enjky, jak rosa na sonci,
Zapanujem i my, brattja, u svojij storonci.

Du?u j tilo my polo?ym za na?u svobodu,
I poka?em, o my, brattja, kozacjkoho rodu.
? ? , ? ?,

? ? ?, ? .
, ? , ? .

? ? ? ? ? ?,
? ?, , , ? ?.


  1. ^ "Ukrajinsjka Latynka | ? ? - Add-ons for Firefox". Firefox Add-ons. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Latynska abetka"
  3. ^ Korotkyj pravopys
  4. ^ ? ? ?

See also


Contemporary literature concerning the Alphabet Wars:

  • Markijan Szaszkewicz. Azbuka i abecad?o (1836). Przemy?l.
  • Ivan Franko. ? ? 1859 - 'The Alphabet War in Galicia 1859'.
  • J. ?ewi?ki (1834). Review of the Introduction of the Polish Alphabet to Ruthenian Writing.
  • Josyp Lozynskyj (1834). "On the Introduction of the Polish Alphabet to Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Writing", «? wprowadzeniu abecad?a polskiego do pismiennictwa ruskiego».
  • M. ?a?kevy?. ? abecad?o.

External links

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