Cyrillization of French

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Russian uses phonetic transcription for the Cyrillization of its many loanwords from French. Some use is made of Cyrillic's iotation features to respresent French's front rounded vowels and etymologically-softened consonants.


In the table below, the symbol ⟨ʲ⟩ represents either a "softened" consonant or the approximant /j/. When applicable, a softened consonant can be indicated in transcription either by a following iotified vowel or by ⟨ь⟩.

Russian transcription of French consonants
French Russian
Examples Comments
phoneme(s) grapheme(s)
[b] b б bateau-lavoir – бато-лавуар
[ʃ] ch ш Charles – Шарль
[d] d д Bordeaux – Бордо
[f] f, ph ф Foucault – Фуко
[ɡ] g, gu г Guillaume – Гийом
[ɲ] gn нʲ Boulogne – Булонь
h Humanité – Юманите
г Hugo – Гюго
Le Havre – Гавр
often in the case of h aspiré
[ʒ] j, g(e) ж Jean – Жан
[k] c, qu, k к Camus – Камю
[l] l лʲ Gilbert – Жильбер before a consonant or at the end of a word
л Louvre – Лувр before vowels
[lj] li лʲ Montpellier – Монпелье
Camille – Камиль
[m] m м monde – монд
[n] n н Rhône – Рона
[ŋ] ng нг
[p] p п Pierre – Пьер
[ʁ] r р Renoir – Ренуар
[s] s, ç, c с Rousseau – Руссо
[sj] ti сʲ Libération – Либерасьон
[t] t т pointe – пуэнт
[v] v в Verlaine – Верлен
[w] w в Gwénaël – Гвенаэль sometimes transliterated with ⟨у⟩ in loanwords from English


x кс


Xavier – Ксавье

Saint-Exupéry – Сент-Экзюпери

according to the pronunciation of the ⟨x⟩
[j] y, i, il(l) йʲ yeuse – йёз
Bayard – Байяр
Guillaume – Гийом
after a vowel or word-initially
ьʲ Lavoisier – Лавуазье after a consonant
il(l) ль Marseille – Марсель frozen form
[z] z, s з Vierzon – Вьерзон

Doubled French consonants remain doubled in their Russian transcription: Rousseau – Руссо. Silent consonants (common in French) are generally not transcribed, except where they exist in the surface form due to liaison.


Russian transcription of French vowels
French Russian
Examples Comments
phoneme(s) grapheme(s)
[a], [ɑ] a, â а Charles – Шарль
[e], [ɛ] é, è, ê, ai, e е René – Рене
э Edmond – Эдмон
Citroën – Ситроэн
at the beginning of a word, following a vowel, or rarely for [ɛ] at the end of a word
[ø], [œ] eu, œ, œu ё Villedieu – Вильдьё ё⟩ is generally simplified to ⟨е⟩ in Russian
э Eugène – Эжен
Maheu – Маэ
at the beginning of a word, or after a vowel
[ə], — e Charles – Шарль e muet
е De Gaulle – Де Голль only in cases where [ə] is usually pronounced, e.g., le, de, que, rebelle, etc.
[i] i, y и Village – Виляж
[o], [ɔ] o, au, ô o Rhône – Рона
[wa] oi уа Troyes – Труа
[u], [w] ou у Louvre – Лувр
[y], [ɥ] u ю L'Humanité – Юманите
[ɑ̃] an, am, en, em ан, ам Ambroise – Амбруаз
Occidental – Оксиданталь
nasal vowels are written as the corresponding oral vowel followed by /n/ (or /m/ before /m, b, p/)
[ɛ̃] in, en, ain ен, ем, эн, эм Saintes – Сент
Ain – Эн
[ɔ̃] on, om он, ом Comte – Конт
[œ̃] un ен, ем, эн, эм Verdun – Верден
[wɛ̃] oin уэн pointe – пуэнт

Finally, the softened consonants modify the following vowels:

hard Russian vowel softening Examples Comments
After a vowel or ⟨й⟩ After a consonant or ⟨ь⟩
ʲа я cognac – коньяк
Bayard – Байяр
ʲе ; ʲё ие, йе ; йё ье ; ьё trieurтриер
Cahiers du cinémaКайе дю синема
э ⟨э⟩ never follows a softened consonant
ʲи йи ьи Tilly – Тийи
ʲо йо ьо Chillon – Шильон
ʲу ю
ʲю йю ью
ʲ before a consonant or at the end of a word, softening is written with ⟨ь⟩

Neither ⟨й⟩ nor ⟨ь⟩ are doubled.


  • Paul Garde, La Transcription des noms propres français en russe, Paris, Institut d'études slaves, 1974, 63 pages, 25 cm, collection « Documents pédagogiques de l'Institut d'études slaves » n° X, ISBN 2-7204-0090-4