Enter Cyrillic

The European Commission has recommended admission to the European Union for Romania and Bulgaria. This brings the number of official EU languages to what, 27?

Romanian, being a Romance language, should fit in nicely with its cousins, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. But, as The Economist points out, bringing in Bulgarian adds another script — Cyrillic — to the existing mix.

The use of Cyrillic has been challenged in several countries in recent years. The Economist cites Moldova and Azerbaijan, which switched to Latin; and Tatarstan, Uzbekistan, Montenegro (Serbian is written in both Cyrillic and Latin characters). Transliteration is a challenge, especially because “the sh and ch sounds, single letters in Cyrillic, become head-splitting combinations of sz, cz, ci, si” and s or c with various diacritics—so one set of sounds can be transliterated several different ways.

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