I was curious whether common brands like Apple or Google are considered to be part of the Russian language or not.

If one is said to complete something in Russian, is Google, Apple и FreeBSD a fair game, or is it Гугл, Эппл и Фри-Би-Эс-Ди?

  • What exactly do you mean by "part of Russian"? Should they be transliterated in writing or not does not make then any more or any less Russian.
    – Quassnoi
    May 16 '15 at 7:06
  • Clarification -- my question is more about what's supposed to be commonly understood when one receives the instructions to write or complete the form "in Russian", without any specific instructions whether to transliterate or not. Should one, or should one not, transliterate in such case?
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 5:09

Just to add to other answers.
Interaction of English and Russian is very complicated. Latin alphabet is used in school math, so most of people know Latin pronunciation of letter's names and don't know correct English pronunciation. As consequence, many of words changed pronunciation after they had come to Russian. For example:

  • key should be read as ки, but if you say this, no one understand you. All people say кей, and you can even find a name of a profession - эникейщик ("tech support", derived from any key)
  • FreeBSD should be фри би эс ди, but more often you will hear фри бэ эс дэ
  • sometimes you can meet words with completely wrong pronunciation, like ZyXEL. Its official Russian name is Зайксел (accordingly to Wikipedia), but often people say зухель, because Latin y and x looks like Russian у and х (also - линух instead of линукс).

Of course, all written above is about colloquial speech.

  • 1
    good mention of ZyXEL, I almost forgot about it. :)
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:35

If you ask about modern company names, they would mostly be well known in their original spelling (except perhaps for the Asian ones for which we all know their Latin names). And indeed, as Quassnoi already commented, the Russians tend to "absorb" the words and "Russianalize" them by assigning gender and deriving verbs and adjectives from them:

Эппл выпустил...
Погугли это сам
Гугловский телефон

It gets more complex with acronyms, that are rarely transliterated: LG, IBM, BBC. However, it used to be very different in the Soviet time, when the vast majority of people had very limited knowledge of foreign languages and even foreign letters. For all companies well known in Russian for decades, the Russian name was in use. Compare the distributions of BBC and its Russian form Би-Би-Си found in the corpora:


enter image description here


enter image description here

It's pretty self-explanatory. Similar results—predominantly Cyrillic spelling throughout the soviet time and the growing Latin spelling after 1990—can be found for Форд, Сименс, Зингер, Филипс.

  • 2
    Latin alphabet has been taought at school for ages. As early as in the middle of the 20 century even schoolchildren in village schools knew how to read the Latin alphabet—admittedly, they would not be able to read English.
    – Shady_arc
    May 16 '15 at 18:54
  • where did you get the graphs from?
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:34
  • @cnst: ruscorpora.ru/search-main.html. I'll add the links to the text.
    – texnic
    May 17 '15 at 14:08

The words гуглить and эппловский are used widely in Russian nowadays, so I'd say yes, they are Russian alright.

Should they be transliterated or not is completely unrelated question.

Latin alphabet is well understood in Russia nowadays, so some authors, especially in IT-related press, don't bother with transliteration. They still, however, use Cyrillic for derived words like those above. Other authors always transliterate the brand names. And of course when transliteration is legally required, like in ООО «Гугл» or in your question above, well, one has to transliterate.

  • But гуглить and эппловский are slang, aren't they? You wouldn't really see it in printed media, would you? My question is more about what's supposed to be understood when one receives the instructions to write in Russian, without any specific instructions whether to transliterate or not. Should one, or should one not, transliterate in such case?
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:41
  • Yes they are and yes you would. Being slang has nothing in common with being Russian, again. Words like кеды and унитаз used to be brand names and slang too, it does not make them any less Russian. Russian uses Cyrillic, so without any specific instructions you'd be safe having transliterated the brands.
    – Quassnoi
    May 17 '15 at 7:27

There are two proper ways of using company (or software) names in a Russian text: in Latin (without quotes) or in Cyrillic (with quotes) characters. The first way is preferred for widely recognized names like Apple, Windows, Google etc. while the second one might be better for introducing a new brand, particularly for the reason its pronunciation might be not obvious to most Russian speakers. For example, FreeBSD in proper transcription becomes "Фри Би-Эс-Ди" (in quotes). It originally comprises two parts: a word (which must be separated in Russian version - we never use capital letters inside a word) and an acronym, which is typically transcribed as above.

  • I think the FreeBSD part should be discussed in the other linked question here, let's not try to provide the actual definitions here. As mentioned there, I'm still not clear why it's Нью-Йорк, но "Фри Би-Эс-Ди". But it's a good mention for the quotes, seems like everyone else has forgotten such rule!
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:38
  • Also, you appear to present a chicken-and-egg problem here -- you're saying that for old brands like Apple and Google -- the Latin is ok. But for a new brand, you have to use Russian. Are you suggesting that originally Apple and Google were in Cyrillic, but now they went back to Latin? And that such procedure is still in place?
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:42
  • I didn't post it in the FreeBSD thread since the same transcription had been already given. I wasn't sure the question was about usage in Russian text, so the 'quotes' point was likely not so important there.
    – Alex_ander
    May 17 '15 at 7:13
  • As for Apple, there were times when a record company of the same name was much more known in Russia. It was run by the Beatles and written as "Эппл". Here is a good example of contemporary usage - both approaches in the same sentence: well-known and historic names of the same company (from gazeta.ru). Компания General Electric была основана в 1878 г. изобретателем Томасом Эдисоном и первоначально называлась «Эдисон электрик лайт».
    – Alex_ander
    May 17 '15 at 7:14

Sure they're, but could depends. Russia has a vaste territory, in the larger cities closely everyone (except older people), know what are Apple and Google, and both are translated "directly". If you want to say Apple as a fruit, you say : Яблоко . Apple as a brand is like you said Эппл, but that word doesn't exists in russian vocabolary. As well, гугл is just used to refer a brand. (they both are translated like it sounds).

Google -> Gugl Apple -> Eppl

  • Welcome to Russian SE. I'm not exactly sure what you mean; also, feel free to write your answer in Russian; I think that's totally acceptable and appropriate here in this SE.
    – cnst
    May 17 '15 at 3:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.