Pangrams: English language, but in scribbly.
December 3, 2010 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Are there pangrams (i.e. "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog") which are written in a non-Latin script (e.g. Cyrillic) but the sentence itself is in English (or even phonetic English)?

I am trying to learn Cyrillic and Devanagari script, but I am not quite ready to learn the languages, so I thought it would be helpful if I there were pangrams which would be an English sentence but in a different script. I am well aware that other scripts/languages contain additional characters (and can lack characters, too) which made me think that phonetic English might be helpful.

If you have any other suggestions for learning non-Latin scripts (not just limited to Cyrillic or Devanagari) I would very much appreciate your input!
posted by eldvno to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would hasten to caution you that Devanagari doesn't quite work that way: consonants and vowels are treated very differently and there are something like eight distinguishable letters that would correspond to an English-transliterated "d."
posted by kittyprecious at 7:20 AM on December 3, 2010

You probably won't find a good one for Cyrillic, because it has quite a few letters which don't correspond to English sounds, which will make a complete phonetic transliteration impossible:

Ж: zhe, which is more like a soft "J"
Х: xa, which is the hard guttural "ch" sound you have in Greek and Hebrew.
Щ: shcha, which kind of has an equivalent in German-inherited names that begin with sch, but not really.
Ъ and Ь: Hard and soft signs, good freaking luck with these. They don't even make their own sounds, they tell you when you palatalize other letters.
Ы: A letter which is like "ee," but someone is punching you in the gut while you say it.

You're probably better off learning to speak a Russian pangram phonetically, so that you'll get accustomed to the unique sounds of the language. Even the letters which do have English equivalents are not pronounced the same way, so to "read" an English sentence aloud that is written in Cyrillic is, in a way, to mispronounce the Cyrillic. You could end up ingraining yourself with an awful English-speaker's accent.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:39 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It took me a grand total of a week to learn Cyrillic; I was still on words like "mom" and "cat." Transliteration is a royal pain - the difference between ш and щ is basically impossible for me to demonstrate in English. And don't get me started on things like й and ь and ъ. Admittedly, it's fun to say their names: твёрдый знак has a lovely ring to it.

My suggestion is to use the names of countries, famous people, etc. It's still not perfect; the name "Harry Potter" has at least three different commonish Russian variations (Гари Поттер, Хари Поттер, Хери Поттер) that I know of, but if you use common Russian names (Gorbachev, Putin, Khrushchev, Tchaikovsky) it'll work well enough for a general sense of the characters. Bonus: there's a big list of countries and proper nouns in many dictionaries, including this one, which I love, even though the author died and so it's stuck in a early post-Soviet time warp forever.

There are also books on the subject. They're more about perfecting your letter forms than figuring out what they sound like (seriously, it takes a week,) and when I've looked through them at the bookstore they were below my level, even way back in Russian 101. But if you're determined to just stick to alphabet work, that'll probably help.

I would Cyrillize your sentence as:

Те квик бронь фокс йумпс оверь те лези дог.

It's quick and dirty, because this table is very very long and annoying to scroll through to make sure I'm not goofing anything up.

If a Russian speaker said it slowly and clearly and had no idea it was supposed to be English, it'd probably be vaguely like:

Teh kveek brohn fohks eeyoomps overh teh lezee dohg.
posted by SMPA at 7:45 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, oh, it should be джумпс, not йумпс. It makes a much harder sound than our "j": d'zhoomps, I guess.
posted by SMPA at 7:51 AM on December 3, 2010

I've found "The Russian Alphabet (Cyrillic)" to be interesting and illuminative. It does basically what you're looking for in word, not sentence, form.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2010

Best answer: I learned the Cyrillic alphabet by using cognates, one for each letter:

атом (atom)
банан (banana)
компьютер (computer)
радио (radio)


For some letters, for which the Latin alphabet has no equivalent, we'd use Russian proper nouns that are commonly used in English like Ялта (Yalta) and Ельцин (Yeltsin).

This is essentially like using English words written in Cyrillic (cognates might not be the right word; I mean words that are exactly the same in Russian and English.)

I'm not sure that your proposed method would work since there are several ways to transliterate the same thing, and some Russian letters wouldn't even come up. Russian might have its own pangrams, but they'd be in Russian.
posted by thebazilist at 3:13 PM on December 3, 2010

Have you checked out Google Transliteration?
posted by null14 at 9:14 PM on December 4, 2010

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