Transliteration refers to the writing of one language using a different language system - in our case, writing Russian (Cyrillic) words using English (Latin) characters.
You may need to use this when you are writing emails or for sending text messages (SMS) on your mobile phone. In some cases, the Cyrillic characters are not supported by email or mobile phone, and thus you will find it very useful to know how to write Russian words using English letters.
Even if you are able to type an email using cyrillic letters, people in Russia may still not be able to read it. The problem occurs with some internet browsers, and it is a very common (and frustrating) experience for both of you. So, we recommend if you are up to the challenge of writing emails in Russian, that you do one of two things:
(1) Write your email in a word processor and send as an attachment. (They should be able to read the cyrillic characters ok from this.)
(2) Type your email using English letters as outlined below.
There are quite a few different systems that have been developed for writing Russian using Latin characters. The system we have outlined below is the most commonly used (and understood) by Russian speakers today.
If you are interested in getting technical, and finding out more about the different systems, see this Wikipedia article about how to transliterate Russian.
Otherwise, please use the following recommended system for writing Russian using English letters.