New Alphabet

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

New Alphabet


the Latin-based alphabet created (with the invention of additional letters) for the languages of the USSR. It was used from the second half of the 1920’s until the early 1940’s.

The move to create a new alphabet began among the Turkic-speaking peoples of the USSR, who sought to abandon the use of the Arabic alphabet, which was not suited to the Turkic linguistic system, and thereby to eliminate illiteracy. The first All-Union Turkological Conference (Baku, 1926), which was devoted to problems of latinizing the written language of the Turkic-speaking peoples, elected the public Central Committee for the New Turkic Alphabet (from 1930, the State All-Union Central Committee for the New Alphabet Under the All-Russian Central Executive Committee).

The presidents and vice-presidents of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee took part in the work of the State All-Union Central Committee for the New Alphabet and contributed to the creation of the new alphabet. Among them were S. A. Agamali-Ogly, V. A. Artemov, B. M. Grande, L. I. Zhirkov, V. I. Lytkin, N. la. Marr, E. D. Polivanov, A. A. Reformatskii, A. N. Samoilovich, A. M. Sukhotin, B. V. Chobanzade, G. Sharaf, R. O. Shor, and N. F. Iakovlev.

New alphabets were studied from the linguistic, graphic, psychological, pedagogical, and typographical standpoints and were then recommended for widespread application. The clergy and bourgeois-minded members of the intelligentsia, as well as deep-rooted, backward traditions, hindered the introduction of the new alphabets. Under these conditions, the new alphabet was gradually introduced through special governmental resolutions. As a result of the work of the All-Union Central Committee for the New Alphabet, 20 Soviet nationalities adopted the new alphabet, and 50 nationalities acquired a written language for the first time. The new alphabet played an enormous role in bringing about a cultural revolution. It was also accepted in Turkey, Mongolia, and the Tuva People’s Republic.

The development of Soviet society demonstrated that the Latin alphabet artificially isolated the languages of Soviet nationalities from the Russian language, a language of international communication. Between 1936 and 1941, the nationalities of the USSR adopted alphabets based on the Russian writing system.


Agamali-Ogly, S. A. V zashchitu novogo tiurkskogo alfavita. Baku, 1927.
Iakovlev, N. F. “Itogi unifikatsii alfavitov ν SSSR.” Sovetskoe stroitel’stvo, 1931, no. 8(61).
Pis’mennost’ i revoliutsiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1933.
Alfavit Oktiabria. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Musaev, K. M. Alfavity iazykov narodov SSSR. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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