The Alphabet in Linguistic Imagology. Ideological and Aesthetic Values in the Disputes on the Pre-Reform Cyrillic Letters in Russia Before and After 1918

Шамиль Хайров


The Cyrillic alphabet as a whole and some individual characters belonging to that alphabet in particular have always been associated in the conservative Orthodox mind with tradition, faith, patriotism and a glorified past. While reformers declared that they looked at the alphabet from the point of view of its functionality, traditionalists endowed its letters with various ideological, cultural and aesthetic values. This article considers the following evaluative approaches to the Cyrillic letters: 1. The mystical iconicity of some Cyrillic letters based on the shape of the characters. 2. Various arguments in defence of the letters excluded from the Russian alphabet in 1918. 3. The mythologisation of these arguments (The Old Believers’ spiritual verse of the 1990s). The main purpose of the article is to show the ways in which the ideology is hidden or openly reflected in all the arguments, including those that are purely technical or aesthetic.


Linguistic Imagology; Orthographic Reforms; Cyrillic Script; Russian Cyrillic Alphabet; Language and Ideologies; Language Attitudes

Full Text:



Licenza Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Firenze University Press
Via Cittadella 7 - 50144 Firenze
Tel. (0039) 055 2757700 Fax (0039) 055 2757712