- Middle English caracter
- From Latin character mark, distinctive quality
- From Greek charaktēr
- From charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian žerti to scratch
We're down to the last of them. There are two groups today, for a total of seven characters in total. Only five of them actually have sounds. These five are characters that represents what we would call blends in English. We would use two letters to make these sounds and they choose to use one. Here they are:
- Ж - ZH as in pleasure
- Ц - TS as in cats
- Ч - CH as in chair
- Ш - SH as in shadow
- Щ - shsh as in Spanish Sherry*
*Example taken directly from my Russian lessons; not an obsession on my part, I promise!
As for the final two, they are the hard sign and the soft sign. They make no actual sound themselves, but effect pronunciation.
Hard sign - Ъ - makes a tiny pause between syllables; rare.
Soft sign - Ь - softens the preceding consonant, as if adding a soft y to it.
There you have it. The Russian alphabet, all thirty-three characters (if I haven't missed one, anyway). The first hurdle in learning this language. Once jumped, things do get easier.