Gavin
I am curious about how you type your languages on computer? The keyboard which we use to type Chinese characters is similar to those used to type English. Despite Chinese is not composed of English letters, we can use the Chinese phonetic alphabets to type. But some languages' letters are quite different from English letters and may even have some special symbols, such as Arabic, Korean, Russian, Thai , and other languages. Do you need a special keyboard that is different from the one which Chinese and English people use when you type on the computers?
Mar 18, 2017 6:51 AM
Comments · 18
Evelyn, we call them "soft sign" and "hard sign. You are correct in this. We still consider them letters:) With names like: "soft sign". No problem: for example, й represents sound /j/ but is called 'ee short' (as a child I preferred to call it 'yee' while my friend's husband teaches their daughter name 'eey').

Before the revolution most letters had meaningful words starting with this letter as their name... save a few, among them х херъ, ъ еръ, ь ерь and ы еры. (I have no idea where this -ер- came from. "Хер" is still used as an euphemistic for the most common Russian swearing word starting with x. Also there is a verb похерить - to cancel (imagine crossing a document with X shape) - some modern Russians think it is a swearing word:))
In a distant past Ь and Ъ denoted sounds, short i and u. They still could sound like this 1000 years ago, judging by loans in Finnish. Later they merged with е and o - or disappeared in other positions. Бьрьвьнo->Бревно.

Before the revolution Russian wrods couldn't end with a consonat: whatever ended with a hard consondant had -ъ in the end, reminding of the times when Slavic lnagauges sounded a bit like Japanese: all the syllables open. After the revolution they tried to abandon ъ, substituting it with an apostrophe. Such spelling still occurs, for example when we type in Latin transliteration, but as you see ъ is still here. "Psychologically" they are letters for us, though not sounds.
No less than --o- and -e in 'people', or -h- in ch-:) 
Functionally... in a sense their sounds are still here. "Softening' is in a sense mixign of consonant's articulation with и articulation. Especially with labials, like m. Lips are making m-sound, while tongue is in the position for some vowel close to Russian и/е, ready to make a quick transition to the vowel and influencing the timbre.


March 20, 2017
I'm surprised with Russian... actually Cyrillic functions the same way as Latin:/ Latin. Кириллица.
Does this look really different? You must even be able to recognize two letters: К......а.

It is used to represent sounds in the same way. And our fonts (and hands) are influenced by Latin graphics since 1708. But Cyrillic lower case letters mimic capitals: compare Latin B,b and Russian В,в (sounds [v], for [b] we have Б,б).
Cyrillic writing is based on Greek letters (with some letters form Hebrew and Coptic may be).
Latin writing is based on Greek and Phoenicean letters. But as you may see, Greek letters are now a bit different.
Also Semitic languages (like Arabic, Hebrew and old Phoenicean) use letters in a bit different way.

When we type, we do it just the same way as in Latin.
Here is a the picture of <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://newauctionstatic.com.ua/offer_images/2016/09/27/01/big/G/GmedtMDHwqM/klaviatura_mitsumi_classic_kfk_ea4_xt_ps_2_2679_klav.jpg">a Russian keyboard</a>. (This one also has two additional letters for Ukrainian).

When we move aboad (where such a keyboard can't be bought) there are two option:
- typing in Latin transliterariton - this was very common in early days of Russian internet and I have no problem reading this. Even typing this:) But young people who have never seen this become irritated sometimes. There are also a number pf programs which convert Latin "translit" into Cyrillic.
- buying stickers with Russian letters. Similarly, as I learn Arabic I can buy stickers wih Arabic letters, or just draw them on my keyboard myself.
March 20, 2017

@Vera

I guess, that Gavin is just referring to the Cyrillic alphabet.

March 18, 2017

@Vera

Yes, they are letters, but Arabic and Thai letters are also letters. You can't expect from someone, who can't read the Cyrillic alphabet, to know that those are letters. For someone who can't read a script, all letters just look like symbols.

March 18, 2017
Miriam, they are still letters, or I missed something
March 18, 2017
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