Belarusian Latin alphabet

The Belarusian Latin alphabet or Łacinka (from Belarusian: Лацінка, BGN/PCGN: Latsinka, IPA: [laˈt͡sʲinka]) for the Latin script in general) is the common name of the several historical alphabets to render the Belarusian (Cyrillic) text in the Latin script. It is similar to the Sorbian alphabet and incorporates features of the Polish and Czech alphabets.


Łacinka was occasionally used in the Belarusian area mainly in the 19th century and first years of the 20th century. Belarusian was officially written only in the Latin script between 1941 and 1944, in the Nazi German-occupied Belarusian territories.

It is used occasionally in its current form by certain authors, groups and promoters in the Nasha Niva weekly, the ARCHE journal, and some of the Belarusian diaspora press on the Internet.

It is not, as such, a romanisation, as certain orthographic conventions must be known. For instance, the Łacinka equivalent to Cyrillic е can be e, ie or je, depending on the pronunciation of it and that the preceding sound. Also, as there is no soft sign in Łacinka, palatalisation is instead represented by a diacritic on the preceding consonant.

Belarusian Latin alphabet
(as seen in publications, c.1990s–2000s)
A aА а/a/
B bБ б/b/
C cЦ ц/ts/
Ć ćЦь ць*/tsʲ/
Č čЧ ч/tʂ/
D dД д/d/
DZ dzДз дз/dz/
DŹ dźДзь дзь*/dzʲ/
DŽ džДж дж/dʐ/
E eЭ э/ɛ/
F fФ ф/f/
G g(Ґ ґ)/ɡ ~ ɟ/
H hГ г/ɣ ~ ʝ/
CH chХ х/x ~ ç/
I iІ і*/i/, /ʲ/
J jЙ й, ь*/j/
K kК к/k ~ c/
L lЛь ль*/lʲ/
Ł łЛ л/l/
M mМ м/m/
N nН н/n/
Ń ńНь нь*/nʲ/
O oО о/ɔ/
P pП п/p/
R rР р/r/
S sС с/s/
Ś śСь сь*/sʲ/
Š šШ ш/ʂ/
T tТ т/t/
U uУ у/u/
Ŭ ŭЎ ў/u̯/
V vВ в/v/
Y yЫ ы/ɨ/
Z zЗ з/z/
Ź źЗь зь*/zʲ/
Ž žЖ ж/ʐ/
* Cyrillic е, ё, і, ю, я are equivalent to je, jo, ji, ju, ja initially or after a vowel,
   to e, o, i, u, a after the consonant l (ля = la),
   and to ie, io, i, iu, ia after other consonants.

The official Belarusian Romanisation 2007 system is similar to Łacinka but transliterates Cyrillic л: л = ł (Łacinka) = l (official), ль = l (Łacinka) = ĺ (official), ля = la (Łacinka) = lia (official).


In the 16th century, the first Latin known renderings of Belarusian Cyrillic text occurred, in quotes of Ruthenian in Polish and Latin texts. The renderings were not standardised, and Polish orthography seems to have been used for Old Belarusian sounds.

In the 17th century, Belarusian Catholics gradually increased their use of the Latin script but still largely in parallel with the Cyrillic. Before the 17th century, the Belarusian Catholics had often used the Cyrillic script.

In the 18th century, the Latin script was used, in parallel with Cyrillic, in some literary works, like in drama for contemporary Belarusian.

абвгдеёжззь ійклльмнньоп
рссьтуўфхцць чшыьэюя

It was used in works by Dunin-Martsinkyevich, Kalinowski, Francišak Bahuševič, Alaiza Pashkievich (Tsyotka) and the newspaper Nasha Niva as well as newspapers from c.1917 to the 1920s.

abwhdje1jo1żzź ijkłlmnńop
rsśtuu2fchcć czszyeju1ja1

It was used in the contemporary works of Yan Stankyevich and in the 5th (unofficial) edition of Branislaw Tarashkyevich's Belarusian grammar (1929).

abwhdje1jo1žzź ijkłlmnńop
rsśtuŭfchcć čšyeju1ja1

It was used in the later works of Yan Stankyevich.

abvhdje1jo1žzź ijkłlmnńop
rsśtuŭfchcć čšyeju1ja1

It was used in the newspaper Nasha Niva and the journal Arche.

abvhdje1jo1žzź ijkłlmnńop
rsśtuŭfchcć čšyeju1ja1
  1. The variant with "j" was used at the start of words or after vowels, with "i" elsewhere.
  2. Dunin-Martsinkyevich used u ("u" in cursive) for the "short U".
  • The "soft sign" is denoted not by a separate grapheme but by using the "Ll" variant preceding it or by the acute accent over the preceding consonant.
  • The plosive sound "g" ([ɡ] or [ɡʲ]), which are not represented in the standard Belarusian alphabet (see also Ge with upturn), has been proposed by some authors, including Yan Stankyevich. It is not distinguished in Latin renderings at all, or it can be represented by either "Gg" or "HGhg".
  • The apostrophe is not used.

In the 19th century, some Polish and Belarusian writers of Polish cultural background sometimes or always used the Latin script in their works in Belarusian, notably Jan Czeczot, Paŭluk Bahrym, Vincent Dunin-Marcinkievič, Francišak Bahuševič, and Adam Hurynovič. The Revolutionary Democrat Konstanty Kalinowski used only the Latin script in his newspaper Peasants’ Truth (Belarusian: Мужыцкая праўда, in Latin script: Mużyckaja prauda; six issues in 1862–1863).

Such introduction of the Latin script for the language broke with the long Cyrillic tradition and is sometimes explained by the unfamiliarity of the 19th century writers with the history of the language or with the language itself or by the impossibility of acquiring or using the Cyrillic type at the printers that the writers had been using.

The custom of using the Latin script for Belarusian text gradually ceased to be common, but at the beginning of the 20th century, there were still several examples of use of the Latin script in Belarusian printing:

  • Newspaper Nasha Dolya (1906).
  • Newspaper Nasha Niva (the issues during 10.11.1906 – 31.10.1912) — issues in both Cyrillic and Latin (with the subheading: Printed weekly in Russian and in Polish letters (in Latin script: Wychodzić szto tydzień ruskimi i polskimi literami)).
  • Tsyotka’s Belarusian Violin (Belarusian: Скрыпка беларуская, Skrypka biełaruskaja), Baptism to Freedom (Belarusian: Хрэст на свабоду, Chrest na swabodu) — books of poetry.
  • Tsyotka’s First reading for Belarusian children (Belarusian: Першае чытанне для дзетак-беларусаў, Perszaje czytannie dla dzietak-biełarusaŭ) — an attempt at creating a Belarusian elementary reading book.
  • Yanka Kupala’s Zither Player (Belarusian: Гусляр, Huslar; 1910) — book of poetry.
  • rev. Baliaslau Pachopka’s Belarusian Grammar (1915, publ. in 1918) — Belarusian grammar, based entirely on Latin script, but is claimed by Belarusian linguists, however, to be prepared unscientifically and breaking the traditions of the Belarusian language. See also Belarusian grammar.

In the 1920s in the Belarusian SSR, like the Belarusian Academic Conference (1926), some suggestions were made to consider a transition of the Belarusian grammar to the Latin script (for example, Zmicier Zhylunovich for "making the Belarusian grammar more progressive"). However, they were rejected by the Belarusian linguists (such as Vaclau Lastouski).

From the 1920s to 1939, after the partition of Belarus (1921), the use of a modified Latin script was reintroduced to Belarusian printing in Western Belarus, chiefly for political reasons. The proposed form of the Belarusian Latin alphabet and some grammar rules were introduced for the first time in the 5th (unofficial) edition of Tarashkyevich's grammar (Vil'nya, 1929).

Belarusian Latin alphabet
(Tarashkyevich, 1929)
A a B b C c Ć ć Č č D d E e F f G g H h
I i J j K k L l Ł ł M m N n Ń ń O o P p
R r S s Ś ś Š š T t U u Ŭ ŭ W w Y y Z z
Ź ź Ž ž

Belarusian was written in the Latin script in 1941 to 1944 in the German-occupied Belarusian territories and by the Belarusian diaspora in Prague (1920s – c.1945).

After the Second World War, Belarusian was occasionally written in the Latin script by the Belarusian diaspora in Western Europe and the Americas (notably in West Germany and the United States). In 1962, Yan Stankyevich proposed a completely new Belarusian Latin alphabet.

Belarusian Latin alphabet
(Stankyevich, 1962)
O o A a E e B b C c Ć ć Č č D d F f G g
H h Ch ch I i J j K k L l Ł ł M m N n Ń ń
P p R r Ś ś Š š T t V v U u Ŭ ŭ Dz dz Dź dź
Dž dž Z z Ź ź Ž ž
Belarusian Latin alphabet
(Pogadayev, 2017)
A a B b C c Ć ć Č č D d E e Ě ě F f G g
H h I i J j K k L l Ľ ľ M m N n Ň ň O o
P p R r S s Ś ś Š š T t U u Ŭ ŭ Y y Z z
Ź ź Ž ž

See also


    • Ad. Stankiewič. Biełaruskaja mowa ŭ škołach Biełarusi – Wilnia : Wydawiectwa „Biełaruskaje krynicy“. Bieł. Druk. Im. Fr. Skaryny ŭ Wilni Ludwisarskaja 1, 1928 ; Менск : Беларускае коопэрацыйна-выдавецкае таварыства ″Адраджэньне″, 1993 [факсімільн.]
    • Б. Тарашкевіч. Беларуская граматыка для школ. – Вільня : Беларуская друкарня ім. Фр. Скарыны, 1929 ; Мн. : «Народная асвета», 1991 [факсімільн.]. – Выданьне пятае пераробленае і пашыранае.
    • Да рэформы беларускай азбукі. // Працы акадэмічнае канферэнцыі па рэформе беларускага правапісу і азбукі. – Мн. : [б. м.], 1927.
    • Дунін-Марцінкевіч В. Творы / [Уклад., прадм. і камент. Я. Янушкевіча]. – Мн. : Маст. літ., 1984.
    • К. Калиновский: Из печатного и рукописного наследия/Ин-т истории партии при ЦК КП Белоруссии – фил. Ин-та марксизма-ленинизма при ЦК КПСС. – Мн.: Беларусь, 1988. ISBN 5-338-00024-5
    • Сцяпан Некрашэвіч. Садаклад па рэформе беларускага правапісу на акадэмічнай канферэнцыі 1926 г. // Выбраныя навуковыя працы акадэміка С. Н. Некрашэвіча: Да 120-годдзя з дня нараджэння / НАН Беларусі; Ін-т мовазнаўства імя Я. Коласа; Навук. рэд. А. І. Падлужны. – Мн. : 2004. ISBN 985-08-0580-3
    • Як правільна гаварыць і пісаць пабеларуску. Беларускія корэспондэнцыйныя курсы ў Празе. – Прага : Dr. Jan Ermačenko, Běloruské vydavatelství, 1941 ; Менск : Беларускае коопэрацыйна-выдавецкае таварыства ″Адраджэньне″, 1992 [факсімільн.]. – Міжнародная асацыяцыя беларусістаў, 1992. – Беларускае таварыства архівістаў, 1992.
    • Ян Станкевіч. Б. Тарашкевіч: Беларуская граматыка для школ. Выданьне пятае пераробленае і пашыранае. Вільня. 1929 г., бал. 132 + IV [1930–1931] // Ян Станкевіч. Збор твораў у двух тамах. Т. 1. – Мн.: Энцыклапедыкс, 2002. ISBN 985-6599-46-6
    • Ян Станкевіч. Беларуская Акадэмічная Конфэрэнцыя 14.—21.XI.1926 і яе працы дзеля рэформы беларускае абэцэды й правапісу (агульны агляд) [1927] // Ян Станкевіч. Збор твораў у двух тамах. Т. 1. – Мн.: Энцыклапедыкс, 2002. ISBN 985-6599-46-6
    • Ян Станкевіч. Як правільна гаварыць і пісаць пабеларуску (Пастановы Зборкаў Чысьціні Беларускае Мовы) [Вільня, 1937] // Ян Станкевіч. Збор твораў у двух тамах. Т. 1. – Мн.: Энцыклапедыкс, 2002. ISBN 985-6599-46-6
    • Ян Станкевіч. Які мае быць парадак літараў беларускае абэцады [1962] // Ян Станкевіч. Збор твораў у двух тамах. Т. 2. – Мн.: Энцыклапедыкс, 2002. ISBN 985-6599-46-6
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