Difference between Cyrillic and Latin.

Many national alphabets developed on the basis of the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet. Now, perhaps, these two systems are in the "armament" of most countries. "Competitors" are the Arabic script (most of the Muslim countries), the hieroglyphic script (China, Japan) and a number of alphabets of Southeast Asia and India. What is the difference between Cyrillic and Latin, and what features do they have in common? Let us begin the study of the issue with a short excursion into history.

Cyrillic and Latin origin

Cyrillic and Latin are direct descendants of the ancient Greek alphabet, the difference is only in the time of "branching" from the parent alphabet. For the Latin alphabet, this was about the 7th century BC - the time of the formation of Rome as a state. Some linguists believe that the borrowing was direct - from the Greek city-states of southern Italy (the so-called Greater Greece), others - that the Etruscan script acted as a "mediator". The Cyrillic alphabet "originated" from the Greek language already in the early Middle Ages - around the 9th century AD - and was created specifically to acquaint the pagan Slavic tribes with Eastern Christianity (Orthodoxy).

Thus, the difference between Cyrillic and Latin is that the first is not a spontaneous borrowing, but was written by learned monks - Cyril (from whom it got its name) and his brother Methodius. Another Slavic alphabet is attributed to the brothers - the Glagolitic alphabet, which was distributed mainly among the Slavs of Central and Southern Europe. However, this alphabet, although it was used for a long time, still fell out of use, however, quite recently - back in the middle of the 20th century in Croatia, Glagolitic was used for religious purposes. The "most-most" ancient ancestor of both the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabet is the ancient Phoenician script (from which the Greek alphabet originated). There are scientific discussions about the origin of the ancient Phoenician writing, but there are no questions about its descendants: from this alphabet, in addition to the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet, such graphically distant scripts as Georgian, Armenian, Jewish, Arabic and a number of those that are no longer used.


Having dealt with the origin of the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet, let's see how they differ in their internal content. The first thing that catches your eye is the abundance of characters in all variants of the Cyrillic alphabet to denote hissing sounds - [w], [w], [u]. For some Slavic languages ​​(known for the abundance of sibilant Polish, for example), the Cyrillic alphabet would be preferable to the Latin alphabet, but historically it so happened that the Poles, along with Catholicism, borrowed the Latin alphabet from Rome. So they have to use digraphs (that is, "two letters") [rz] and [sz] or letters with superscripts to denote the sounds [w] and [w]. True, the situation with the Germans is even more complicated: the sound [w] is conveyed in their language by the trigraph [sch].

In addition to different ways of transmitting sounds, differences exist in the areas of these letter systems. In the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries, Western Europe, dominated by Latin writing, spread its influence, and with it the alphabet, over vast territories in all parts of the world. And now both America and Australia write exclusively in Latin. In addition - Sub-Saharan Africa, many Asian countries and most of the island states.

Cyrillic, being originally the alphabet of the Slavs, in Europe is localized in the Orthodox Slavic states (with its own characteristics for each language), and on the territory of the former Russian Empire it is used by many peoples for whom writing was created at the beginning of 20 century. For some peoples (Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and a number of others), the Cyrillic alphabet continues to be used even after the union republics gained independence in 1991. As in Mongolia: although it was not part of the Soviet Union, it maintained such close economic and political ties with it that in 1941 the old Mongolian letter was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet. This alphabet is also used in a number of unrecognized or partially recognized states - Abkhazia, Transnistria and South Ossetia.


Let's summarize, what is the difference between Cyrillic and Latin. This table summarizes both the differences and similarities between them.

Cyrillic Latin
Origin8th century AD. Created by the Greek monks Cyril (from whose name it got the name) and his brother Methodius based on the Greek alphabet. It was intended for preaching Orthodoxy among the pagan Slavs7th century BC. Derived from the ancient Greek alphabet. According to various hypotheses, it was borrowed directly from the Greek city-states of southern Italy ("Greater Greece") or indirectly - through the Etruscan language
FeaturesHas quite a lot of alphabetic characters for designations of hissing soundsHissing sounds are transmitted either by digraphs and trigraphs, or with the help of additional superscripts
Current stateDistributed in the Slavic states traditionally professing Orthodoxy... In addition, it is used in many states that were previously part of the Russian Empire or were politically dependent on itIt has the widest distribution in the world: all of America, Australia, southern Africa, many Asian and island states