.mw-parser-output .hidden-begin{box-sizing:border-box;width:100%;padding:5px;border:none;font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .hidden-title{font-weight:bold;line-height:1.6;text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .hidden-content{text-align:left}You can help expand this article with text translated from the corresponding article in Russian. (February 2009) Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Russian article. Machine translation, like DeepL or Google Translate, is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Consider adding a topic to this template: there are already 1,173 articles in the main category, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Russian Wikipedia article at [[:ru:Латинизация]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|ru|Латинизация)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.
A Kazakh-language newspaper written in the Latin script from 1937. Published in Almaty.

In the Soviet Union, latinisation or latinization (Russian: латиниза́ция, romanizedlatinizatsiya) was the name of the campaign during the 1920s and 1930s which aimed to replace traditional writing systems for all languages of the Soviet Union with systems that would use the Latin script or to create Latin-script-based systems for languages that, at the time, did not have a writing system.

Most of these alphabets are defunct and several (especially for languages in the Caucasus) contain multiple letters that do not have Unicode support as of 2023.


A Tajik newspaper in Latin script from 1936. Published in Tajik SSR, USSR


Since at least 1700, some Russian intellectuals have sought to Latinise the Russian language in their desire for close relations with the West.[1]

The early 20th-century Bolsheviks had four goals: to break with Tsarism, to spread socialism to the whole world, to isolate the Muslim inhabitants of the Soviet Union from the Arabic–Islamic world and religion, and to eradicate illiteracy through simplification.[1] They concluded the Latin alphabet was the right tool to do so, and, after seizing power during the Russian Revolution of 1917, they made plans to realise these ideals.[1]

Although progress was slow at first, in 1926, the Turkic-majority republics of the Soviet Union adopted the Latin script, giving a major boost to reformers in neighbouring Turkey.[2] When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk adopted the new Turkish Latin alphabet in 1928, this in turn encouraged the Soviet leaders to proceed.[1] By 1933, it was estimated that among some language groups that had shifted from an Arabic-based script to Latin, literacy rates rose from 2% to 60%.[3]


After the Russian Revolution, as the Soviets looked to build a state that better accommodated the diverse national groups that had made up the Russian Empire, support for literacy and national languages became a major political project. Soviet nationalities policy called for conducting education and government work in national languages, which spurred the need for linguistic reform.[4] Among the Islamic and Turkic peoples of Central Asia, the most common literary script for their languages was based on Arabic or Persian script; however, these were considered a hindrance to literacy, particularly for Turkic languages because of its lack of scripted vowels. In the 1920s, efforts were made to modify the Arabic (such as the Yaña imlâ alphabet developed for Tatar), but some groups adopted Latin-based alphabets instead. Because of past conflict with tsarist missionaries, a Latin-based script was viewed as "less odious" than a Cyrillic one.[5] By the end of the decade, the move towards latinisation was in full swing. On August 8, 1929, by the decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR "On the New Latinised Alphabet of the Peoples of the Arabic Written Language of the USSR" the transition to the Latin alphabet was given an official status for all Turko-Tatar languages in the Soviet Union.[6]

Efforts then began in earnest to expand beyond replacing Arabic script and Turkic languages and to develop Latin-based scripts for all national languages in the Soviet Union. In 1929, the People's Commissariat of the RSFSR formed a committee to develop the question of the romanisation of the Russian alphabet, the All-Union Committee for the New Alphabet [ru] (Russian: ВЦК НА, VTsK NA), led by Professor N. F. Yakovlev [ru] and with the participation of linguists, bibliographers, printers, and engineers. By 1932, Latin-based scripts were developed for almost all Turkic, Iranian, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Uralic languages, totalling 66 of the 72 written languages in the USSR by 1932.[7] There also existed plans to latinise Chinese, Korean, and Russian, along with other Slavic languages.[8]

The VTsK NA completed its work in mid-January 1930; however, on 25 January 1930, General Secretary Joseph Stalin ordered to halt the development of the question of the romanisation of the Cyrillic alphabet for the Russian language.[1] Belarusian and Ukrainian were similarly placed off limits for latinisation.[9] By 1933, attitudes towards latinisation had shifted dramatically and all the newly romanised languages were converted to Cyrillic.[10] The only language without an attempt to latinise its script was Georgian.[11]

In total, between 1923 and 1939, Latin alphabets were implemented for 50 out of 72 languages of the USSR that were written, and Latin alphabets were developed for a number of previously exclusively oral languages. In the Mari, Mordovian and Udmurt languages, the use of the Cyrillic alphabet continued even during the period of maximum latinisation due in part to a growing body of literature written with the Cyrillic alphabet in those languages.[12][13]

In 1936, a new campaign began to move all the languages of the peoples of the USSR to Cyrillic script, which was largely completed by 1940 (German, Georgian, Armenian and Yiddish remained non-cyrillised from the languages common in the USSR; the last three were also never latinised). Later, Polish, Finnish, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian languages also remained uncyrillised.

The following languages were latinised or adapted new Latin-based alphabets during the 1920s and 1930s:[14]

  1. Abaza (1932)
  2. Abkhaz (Abkhaz alphabet) (1924)
  3. Adyghe (1926)
  4. Altai (1929)
  5. Assyrian (1930)
  6. Avar (1928)
  7. Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani alphabet) (1922)
  8. Balochi (Balochi Latin) (1933)
  9. Bashkir (1927)
  10. Bukhori (1929)
  11. Buryat (1929)
  12. Chechen (1925)
  13. Chinese (Latinxua Sin Wenz) (1931)
  14. Chukchi (Chucki Latin) (1931)
  15. Crimean Tatar (First Latin) (1927)
  16. Dargin (1928)
  17. Dungan (1928)
  18. Eskimo (1931)
  19. Even (1931)
  20. Evenki (Evenki Latin) (1931)
  21. Ingrian (Ingrian alphabet) (1932)
  22. Ingush (1923)
  23. Itelmen (1931)
  24. Juhuri (1929)
  25. Kabardiano-Cherkess (1923)
  26. Kalmyk (1930)
  27. Karachay-Balkar (1924)
  28. Karaim (1928)
  29. Karakalpak (1928)
  30. Karelian (Karelian alphabet) (1931)
  31. Kazakh (Kazakh alphabet) (1928)
  32. Ket (1931)
  33. Khakas (1929)
  34. Khanty (1931)
  35. Komi (1932)
  36. Komi-Permyak (1932)
  37. Koryak (1931)
  38. Krymchak (1928)
  39. Kumandin (1932)
  40. Kumyk (1927)
  41. Kurdish (Kurdish alphabets) (1929)
  42. Kyrgyz (Kyrgyz alphabets) (1928)
  43. Lak (1928)
  44. Laz (1930)
  45. Lezgin (Lezgin alphabets) (1928)
  46. Mansi (1931)
  47. Moldovan (name used in the USSR for Romanian; Moldovan alphabet) (1928)
  48. Nanai language (1931)
  49. Nenets languages (1931)
  50. Nivkh language (1931)
  51. Nogai language (1928)
  52. Ossetic language (1923)
  53. Persian alphabet (1930)
  54. Sámi language (Kildin & Ter) (1931)
  55. Selkup language (1931)
  56. Shor language (1931)
  57. Shughni language (1932)
  58. Yakut language (1920/1929)
  59. Tabasaran language (1932)
  60. Tajik alphabet (1928)
  61. Talysh language (1929)
  62. Tat language (1933)
  63. Tatar language (Yañalif) (1928)
  64. Tsakhur language (1934)
  65. Turkmen alphabet (1929)
  66. Udege language (1931)
  67. Udi language (1934)
  68. Uyghur language (1928)
  69. Uzbek language (1927)
  70. Vepsian language (1932)

Projects were created and approved for the following languages, but were not implemented:

  1. Aleut language
  2. Arabic language
  3. Korean language
  4. Udmurt language

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Andresen, Julie Tetel; Carter, Phillip M. (2016). Languages in the World: How History, Culture, and Politics Shape Language. Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-118-53115-0. OCLC 913573164. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  2. ^ Zürcher, Erik Jan (2004). Turkey: A Modern History (3rd ed.). London: I.B. Tauris. p. 188. ISBN 1-4175-5697-8. OCLC 56987767.
  3. ^ Wells, Linton (10 August 1933). "Soviets Attempt to Latinize the Alphabet". The Bristol Daily Corier. Vol. XXVIII, no. 58. Bristol, Pennsylvania. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Martin, Terry (2001). "The Latinization Campaign and the Symbolic Polities of National Identity". The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. pp. 183–184. doi:10.7591/9781501713323-009. ISBN 978-1-5017-1332-3. S2CID 239398258.
  5. ^ Martin (2001), pp. 186, 188.
  6. ^ Martin (2001), p. 195.
  7. ^ Martin (2001), p. 203.
  8. ^ Martin (2001), pp. 198–199.
  9. ^ Martin (2001), pp. 198, 200.
  10. ^ Martin (2001), pp. 202–203.
  11. ^ Martin (2001), p. 199.
  12. ^ Martin (2001), pp. 200–201.
  13. ^ Алпатов, В. М. (2000). 150 языков и политика. 1917—2000. Социолингвистические проблемы СССР и постсоветского пространства.. Moscow. p. 70.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ Алфавит Октября. Итоги введения нового алфавита среди народов РСФСР (in Russian). Moscow. 1934. pp. 156–160.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)