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Zdrastvuite, Ya Svetlana! Welcome to Russianpod101.com’s Алфавит Made Easy!
The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn the Russian Cyrillic alphabet: the Алфавит!
Now that you've learned all of the letters, the last 4 lessons of this series will be looking at some strategies on how to read and write effectively, all while learning some fun Russian sayings, idioms, and proverbs.
In this lesson, I’ll cover the system of hooks and bars for writing Russian letters. Hooks and bars can be used when writing to help you tell similar looking letters apart.
As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of letters can be easy to confuse when written! To be more clear, many people use a small bar over their lowercase “Т” and under their lowercase “Ш” to help distinguish between them. Let's see how that looks in the word “штамп” which means stamp. See? Putting bars under the “ш” and above the “т” make it much easier to read.
Here are two notoriously difficult words to read in cursive without bars.
шишки (cursive -- pause and then add bars)
дышишь (cursive -- pause and then add bars)
Pretty ridiculous, right? It boggles the mind! But now let's add some bars.
Oh, that's much better! Can you read them now? “шишки” means “pine cones” and “дышишь” means “you breathe.”
That’s all there is to it! Let's move on to hooks.
This will be just a quick review because we've been learning these as we introduced the letters. You probably remember that some Russian letters take “hooks” when following other letters. Can you remember which ones? Well, there are three in total, л, м, and я. The reason that we write these hooks is not just to make these words easier to read. Remember, in Russian cursive, the connecting point of each letter is actually above the line, so we have to make a hook to start these letters from the correct position.
It's important to note that when the letter begins a word or stands alone, it doesn't really look like a hook.
мама (cursive, lowercase - first “м” also starts and ends above the line)
For example: “мама” means “mother,” and as you can see, it looks like the second ”м” has a hook. But if you look hard you’ll notice that the first “м” also starts and ends above the line! It's not too difficult, but we just need to develop good habits and remember to write consistently in this way.
Это мой семейный альбом. (cursive -- hooks and bars)
Here’s a sentence that has several “hooking” letters. You will recognize some of the words here: “Это мой” means “This is my” and “семейный альбом” means “family album”. Это мой семейный альбом. "This is my family album." That's not too hard, right? Try to write this sentence a few times to practice your hooks. Notice how this one has a bar as well!
To sum up, when writing in the cursive style, there are two letters that get bars: “ш” and “т”.
And there are three letters that get hooks: л, м, and я.
Nice job! Now let's try and apply our new-found knowledge to another idiom!
Here's a saying that’s popular in English too. Can you read it? [short pause] “Xорошо там, где нас нет." it has some words that you might recognize: “Xорошо там” means “It's good there”. “где” means “where,” “нас” is a form of “we,” and “нет" means “no” or “not.” So this means “It's good where we aren't.” and is an equivalent version of the English saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Xорошо там, где нас нет. (cursive)
Did you remember your hooks and bars? The first “Т” won't take a bar because it's in uppercase, but then we should make sure that we add bars on the rest of the “Т”s, one more under the “ш”, and add a hook before the “м”. Nicely done!
Now it's time for Svetlana’s insights.
Now that you know how to write with bars and hooks, keep it up! As you get more experienced, you can do as the Russians do and dispense with the bars if you feel like it, but the hooks are an essential part of learning how to write well.
That’s it for this lesson! In the next lesson, we'll introduce the Russian system of accents and teach you how it affects the pronunciation of some words! See you in the next Алфавит Made Easy lesson!
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