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Street Or Ulicza?
November 15, 2014 14:20


New street signs that appeared on buildings in the centre of Moscow caused bewilderment of the city residents. Strange transliteration (writing names in Latin characters) stroke the eye.

The Russian letter “” (sound “kh”) was replaced by the Latin “x”, as a result, Khokhlovsky lane is read as Ksokslovsky, Mokhovaya Street was renamed as Moksovaya, and Volkhonka was read by foreigners as “Volksonka”.

The word “ulitsa” (“street”) was written as “ulicza”, “lane” – as “pereulok”, the letter “” (sound “shch”) in the word “ploshchad” (“square”) was denoted by the combination “shh”. The result was a strange word “ploshhad”.

A lot of photos with the central streets of Moscow with funny translations of city signs were added to the albums in social networks.

The list is topped by the fully translated names of the streets in the pre-Olympic Sochi, where Vozrozhdeniya Street became Revival street, and Ruzheynaya Street - street Shotgun. And prior to the APEC summit in Vladivostok the street names were translated into English by half: Voennoe Shosse became known as Voyennoye highway, and the transliterated name of the Street of 50 Let VLKSM looks like Pyat'desyat let VLKSM Str. The Doctor of Philology, Professor, Director of the Institute of Linguistics of RSHU Maksim Krongauz noted that it was normal to use the Latin transcription of such words as ulitsa, pereulok, ploshchad.

“I think this is absolutely normal. We can assume that the word “ulitsa” is a part of the name of a street. I think that the name “Tverskaya Street” would have looked no less strange, I think that it would leave the residents of Moscow even more surprised. Besides, foreign visitors may come not from England, which means, they don’t speak English. In this aspect, the transcription “Tverskaya ulicza” still helps tourists”- Krongauz explained to

Another thing is if we talk about the choice of Latin analogues for specific Russian letters (sound Zh), (Kh),  (Ts), (Ch), (Shch), and others. “This is a long and difficult discussion, which transcription to use here” - Krongauz explains. “There will always be controversial points, each transcription will raise someone’s questions. I know the four basic options for the transliteration of the letter “” - CH, X, KH, H. Each of these options raises questions. The French read CH as SH. The KH Option will frighten foreigners with an unusual combination of letters. And the option H does not transmit the sound of our letter.” The linguist explains that a particular system of transliteration is usually chosen.

“The whole system of transliteration is taken into account. Each of the systems was made for convenience of something, but the main thing is the identical transmission of Russian letters” – Krongauz noted. The Moscow City Architecture Committee explained to “”: “Address navigation is made in accordance with the “Concept of a unified system of navigation of Moscow” which was developed at the request of the department of housing and communal services and improvement of the city of Moscow.”

The concept costing the city government 172 million roubles was prepared by one of the companies within the Gallery group. This document states that the transliteration is performed in accordance with the application of the rules of transliteration of the GOST  standard (All Union State standard) 7.79-2000. These are the rules of transliteration of Cyrillic letters by the Latin alphabet. Apparently, the authorities do not intend to abandon the selected standard transliteration so far.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Moscow Moscow streets    

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