Faux Cyrillic, pseudo-Cyrillic, pseudo-Russian or faux Russian typography is the use of Cyrillic letters in Latin text, usually to evoke the Soviet Union or Russia, though it may be used in other contexts as well. It is a common Western trope used in book covers, film titles, comic book lettering, artwork for computer games, or product packaging which are set in or wish to evoke Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, or the Russian Federation. A typeface designed to emulate Cyrillic is classed as an ethnic typeface. The use of faux Cyrillic is sometimes considered offensive for Russian speakers.
Letters are substituted regardless of phonetic matching. For example, R and N in RUSSIAN may be replaced by Cyrillic Я and И to form the faux-cyrillic "ЯUSSIAИ" ("RUSSIAN"). Other examples include the use of Ш for W, Ц for U, Я/Г for R/backwards and upside-down L, Ф for O, Д for A, Б, Ь, or Ъ for B/b, З, Э, or Ё for E, Ч or У for Y. Outside the Russian alphabet, Џ (Serbian) can act as a substitute for U, Ғ (USSR Turkic languages) for F, Ә (USSR Turkic languages, Abkhaz, Dungan, Itelmen, Kalmyk and Kurdish) or Є (Ukrainian) for E, Ө (USSR Turkic, Mongolic and Uralic languages) for O, Һ (USSR Turkic and Mongolic languages and Kildin Sámi) for H, and Ћ (Serbian) for Th. A reversed ☭ is also sometimes used for G. A common substitution is $ for S. Further variants include an inverted K (ꓘ), which does not occur in any language.
This effect is usually restricted to text set in all caps, because Cyrillic letter-forms do not match well with lower case Latin letters. In Cyrillic typography, most upright lower case letters resemble smaller upper case letters, unlike the more distinctive forms of Latin-alphabet type. Cursive Cyrillic upper and lower case letters are more differentiated. Most Cyrillic letter-forms were derived from the Greek alphabet in the 9th century, but the modern forms have more closely resembled those in the Latin alphabet since Peter the Great's civil script reform of 1708.
|Cyrillic letter||Latin look-alike||Actual pronunciation|
|Б||B, G, S, numeral 6||/b/ as in boy|
|В||B||/w/ as in wind (Ukrainian), /v/ as in vault|
|Г||r, upside-down L, same as Γ||/ɡ/ as in goat, /h/ as in hill (Belarusian, Ukrainian)|
|Д||A, O||/d/ as in door|
|Ж||X, backwards and forwards K||/ʐ/ similar to treasure|
|З||E, numeral 3||/z/ as in zoo|
|И||backwards N||/i/ as in tree or [ɪ] as in him|
|Й||N, Ñ, Ň||/i̯/ as in pay|
|К||K||/k/ as in car|
|Л||N, JI, JΠ, same as uppercase Λ but in different fonts.||/l/ as in love or [ɫ] as in coal|
|Н||H||/n/ as in nose|
|П||N, H (lowercase n, h, same as Π)||/p/ as in spot|
|Р||P||/r/ as in rope; similar to stutter in some accents|
|С||C||/s/ as in soup|
|У||Y in lowercase||/u/ as in rule|
|Ф||I, O, Q, Ø, numeral 0, same as Φ||/f/ as in fawn|
|Х||X||/x/ as in Scottish English loch|
|Ц||U, backwards and mirror-flipped L connected||/ts/ as in cats|
|Ч||Y, U, numeral 4||/tɕ/ similar to check|
|Ш||W, rotated E, upside down M||/ʂ/ similar to shrunk|
|Щ||W, rotated E, backwards and mirror-flipped L connected||/ɕː/ similar to wish sheep (Russian), /ʃtʃ/ as in fresh cheese (Ukrainian and Rusyn), /ʃt/ as in schtick (Bulgarian)|
|Ы||bI, backwards and upside-down P, letter L, numeral 61||/ɨ/ similar to roses in some dialects|
|Ь||b, backwards and upside-down P,||indicates the palatalization of the previous consonant, as in union as opposed to unite|
|Э||E, backwards C , numeral 3 and Pan-Nigerian letter Ǝ.||/ɛ/ as in echo|
|Ю||IO, numeral 10||/ju/ as in you|
|Я||backwards R||/ja/ as in yard|
The letters А, В, Е, Ѕ*, І*, Ј*, К, М, Н, О, Р, С, Т, Ү*, У, Ғ*, Ѵ*, and Х are strongly homoglyphic or related to Latin letters, depending on intended sound values to the point that their substitution may not be noticed, unlike those listed above. If compatibility issues arise that limit mixing of scripts, these can be used with faux Cyrillic letters in lieu of their Latin counterparts.
- IDN homograph attack
- Volapük encoding vice versa of Faux Cyrillic, i.e. encoding of Cyrillic letter with ASCII characters by using faux-Latin homoglyph characters
- Translit, Russian Chat Alphabet, Informal romanizations of Russian
- Foreign branding
- Heavy metal umlaut for a similar practice in the field of heavy metal
- Leet for a similar manner of replacing Latin letters with other glyphs that resemble them
- Mimicry/Ethnic Typefaces
- Samples of simulation typefaces
- Transformation of text
- UL Recognized Mark (left-italic ЯU)
- Jen Chen, "Sweater Hip Check", The Pitch (Kansas City), February 15, 2007 online
- "American Perceptions of Vodka Shaken, Not Stirred: An Analysis of the Importance of Vodka’s Foreign Branding Cues and Country-of-Origin Information", Jon Kurland, October 26, 2004 full text
- Englis, Basil G. (1994). Global and Multinational Advertising. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 123. ISBN 0-8058-1395-0.
- "The trouble with Яussiaи The West's reprehensible misuse of Cyrillic continues" full text
- A reversed hammer and sickle is used for the word-finishing Gs on the poster for The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, as can be seen here.