Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 11 03 - Language Lesson: PECTOPAH

PECTOPAH near Kievskaya

Certain words will appear to you repeatedly throughout Moscow. One of those is PECTOPAH. This photo above is a pectopah on the ground floor of our building - however, we are on the 6th floor and on the other side of the building.


Regardless the reason I posted this Photo is not to discuss our apartment but to talk about the Russian or Cyrillic Alphabet. The Fonts of the letters in the above example is not one you would typically see around Russia or in a paper or on a street sign, but the letters are presentable for this example.

Most importantly for the English speaker they are all recognizable. All eight letters (7 unique) are present in the English alphabet.


Unfortunately despite using many of the same characters - the letters from the two alphabets represent distinctly different sounds. I think there are 3 consonants that both Alphabets have basically in common - K M and T. M and T are always M and T in both languages - The K does double duty in Russia as it also does the work of the K and the hard C as in Cafe (KAFE), Coffee(KOFE), or Computer(KOMPUTER).

These leads to the question of the C in PECTOPAH above. The C is always the equivalent of the Englsh S as in Sister (CECTRA - pronounced 'SISTRA').

These leaves the two Ps and the H as the consonants. The Ps are Rs and the H is an N. There is no R character in the Russian alphabet, however there is the very important and frequently seen backwards R which referred to as a "Ya" (not to be confused with the "Ye"). There is also no N character in Russian, however there is very busy reverse N, which is actually a vowel, that functions as the English letter I near as I can tell.

There are also characters for the English H and the P sounds - the H is basically symbolized by the Russian X which is fairly confusing for me because it results in crazy letter combinations that would yield banging Scrabble scores. The P is represented by a character which looks similar to the Greek symbol for Pi.


The two most interchangeable vowels between Russian and English are the A and the O. The A is never a Long A as in BASE - near as I can tell it is typically a short A as in BALL. The O can be Short or Long depending on the stressed syllable. If I have to guess I usually go with short O as in COT - If stressed it will be the long O in METRO.


Therefore....via Transliteration we find that PECTOPAH => ReStoRaN => RESTAURANT, but pronounced Restauran with no T on the End.

There you have it - you have learned a Russian Word - and not only that you have learned 3 Russian Consonants that are not similar in English - And according to LetterFrequency.ORG we have dealt with the 3 most common Russian consonants, H,T, and C (N, T, S in English) and the P(R) which ranks 6th.

Of course most Russian language is not available via this type of Transliteration, but you can discover a Lot of words of foreign origin or influence that you can make out by simply knowing the Russian Alphabet.


Referring back to METRO above - knowing what we have learned above we know that the M and T are the same. I will let you know that in this case the E and O also remain the same - but the R sounds in Russian is symbolized by the English P so METRO in Russian is METPO.

Ok , Enough learning - Perhaps someday I will actually talk about Russian Restaurants.


When I checked Weather.Com at some point the 3rd of November the Temps in Moscow were actually +7F over Wayne, which is likely the highest + differential of my stay.

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