A Note on the Name

There were actual e-mails in my inbox this morning! Two of them! Both expressing bewilderment at my handle (or whatever it's called): Zh. Zh. is the Library of Congress transliteration for the awesomest letter in the Russian alphabet: "Ж." In other transliteration systems "Ж" is rendered as "Ž." It is pronounced like the "s" in "pleasure."* Other letters I considered for my handle:

Ю (Iu): pronounced like the word "you." It too looks pretty cool.

Ы (y): pronounced like nothing we have in English. If you'd like to give it a try however, take a pencil and use it to hold your tongue back in your mouth. Then say the first sound in the word "eat." It's fun. I can barely pronounce it and when teaching first-year students Russian phonetics, "ы" is the great equalizer.

Е (io):pronounced like "yo." This letter is so awesome because it's a sneaky little SOB. It looks like "e," which is pronounced like the "ye" in "yes." Sometimes it is rendered as "ё" but at some point the training wheels come off and you just need to know which is which. It's also the only letter of the Russian alphabet that might be honoured by a monument.

*Russian phonetics is far more complex than my simple little pronounciation guide here but I figure that if you'd really like to sound like a native, then you'll either a) study Russian pronunciation with Andy Richter's dad (I did!) or b) take a course in Russian phonetics.


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