Ukrainian: Correct alphabetical order?


New Member
English - England

I'm pretty new to Ukrainian, but I've studied a little Russian before so I'm quite familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet - I was doing a little bit of research into the variant of Cyrillic used for writing Ukrainian and there seemed to be a little bit of discord as to where 'ь' should be written.

Some sources were writing it before ю and я, as in Russian, and some were writing it at the end. Which of these is correct? Or does it really not matter?

Thanks guys. :)
  • 4elsik


    From what I've found ь used to be the last in the alphabet in 1932-1990. It's what this wiki page says in Russian. And here's a little of history (in English).
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Up until 1993, ь was the last letter of the Ukrainian alphabet in the official Ukrainian правопис. In many Ukrainian dictionaries printed in the Soviet Union, however, it was moved to third from last, as in the Russian alphabet. As the link from 4elsik indicates, in the 1993 правопис the letter was also switched to third from last, where it remains. The Ukrainian communities in the west have always used the 1928 Харківський правопис, as it was considered the last "true" Ukrainian правопис before Stalin's russificiation campaign changed the orthography. In Ukraine, the standard is the latest правопис version from the Ukrainian Academy of Science.

    There is a campaign in Ukraine to revive the use of the 1928 Харківський правопис, which includes moving the ь back to its original place, but I'm not sure how strong or effective it might be. Given the influence of the Russian form of the alphabet and the assimilation of the Stalinist reforms of the language, I suspect that battle has been lost. Some changes have been made that have satisfied no one, for example зала instead of заля (Харківський правопис) or зал (Soviet). Given the various Latin transliteration systems that have been used over that past 20 years, I get the impression that no one is really putting much thought into this at the Academy of Sciences.


    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    stornowegian: Pretty much everything about the Ukrainian language is political :)

    ahvalj: That Wikipedia link does not support an established letter order. I had always assumed that standardized alphabetical order was a relatively recent thing that developed with the rise of systematic education in language and widespread literacy. Prior to that it really didn't matter so to speak. Is there any other research that has been done in terms of letter order.
    The alphabets appear with the invention of letters, i. e. since the Phoenician times. For some reason, humans are sensitive to the order of letters and very seldom dare to change it considerably. For example, when preclassical Latin lost the sound z (which changed to r: auzom>aurum), it abolished the original letter z and used its place for the newly created letter g, so that the order or letters didn't change ( The Greek alphabet used the letters as numbers, and this was inherited by the Cyrilic: . The literature mentions old Cyrillic manuscripts containing the alphabet or various church texts arranged alphabetically, though I never had interest to this so I can't recall any examples right now. The Russian Wikipedia has this nice example of a middle-11th century birch bark manuscript from Novgorod, though it lacks ь: (from here:Кир....B8.D1.80.D0.B8.D0.BB.D0.BB.D0.B8.D1.86.D1.8B).