Through a question on a sister site, I stumbled upon a Bulgarian document that includes drawings and measurements.

What stroke me is that the text in Cyrillic contains Latin characters when it comes to measurements or references to drawings (emphasis mine):

широчина (А) 1,00

1.2. Размери: 18 cm х 30 cm, 24 cm x 40 cm, (...)

enter image description here

Why aren't equivalent Cyrillic characters used?

This is also true in Japanese (Pythonを使用するにあたり必要な基本文法), and probably other languages.

It is true that Latin characters based languages do use glyphs from other languages (typically Greek signs in mathematics) but this is rather to make a distinction in specific cases (and use Latin characters for other symbols)). I do not readily see cases where whole words would be systematically used for concepts (such as the programming languages in Japanese), or for units and variables (Cyrillic)

Note: I would appreciate if someone could put tags that would better reflect the question

  • The primary factor is probably the uniquely hegemonic status the Latin alphabet enjoys. Cyrillic- and Japanese-based keyboards are easily able to input Latin characters, and speakers of languages that use them all learn the Latin alphabet as children alongside their own. The reverse is not the case: the average speaker of a Latin alphabet–based language would likely not know how to input Cyrillic or Japanese at all, and they’d certainly not know how to pronounce it. You won’t normally see comparable Cyrillic bits in Japanese text or vice versa, either. Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:05
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: But in that case why having, say, cm in Latin letters, and all the rest in Cyrillic? Or Python followed by Japanese ones. I would agree if all the text was uniform, the question is why mixing both (the end result will be unreadable for speakers of Latin-only languages anyway)
    – WoJ
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:14
  • 3
    Cities and programming languages are not really comparable. While cities do normally have officially recognised names, they often go back centuries or even millennia, and if the city is big or well-known enough, its name will often have been assimilated into other languages and have local pronunciations and idiosyncracies. Names of programming languages, like those of companies, have deliberately coined, patented names that haven’t usually had time to assimilate much yet. Try replacing Paris with Smørumnedre, Qasigiannguit or Cearnóg Sheáin Bháin instead and see the result. Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:47
  • 3
    I’m fairly sure you could easily find cases of those written in Latin characters as well. I’d wager the more techy a word is, the more likely it is to be written in Latin letters (‘techy’ having a similar semantic markedness to ‘mathy’), but you can surely find examples of both. It sounds like you’re expecting mathematical logic from language, which you won’t find. Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 12:12
  • 2
    In Japanese, it is officially a norm to use the Latin alphabet, you're even allowed to write the whole text in the Latin letters, rōmaji. As for technical drawings, they are done according to the international standards which use Latin letters and abbreviations. What kind of an answer are you looking for? We cannot help you believe your eyes, believe the obvious. It is that absolute obviousness of the answer that makes people downvote your question.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


The things you give as examples are substantially different.

I do not know about Bulgarian, but in Russian the measurement units would be denoted in Cyrillic.

On the other hand, the dimensions and sizes would be in Latin because Latin letters are universally used in mathematics for variables. The angles on the other hand, would be named with letters of Greek alphabet. Thus, this has nothing to do with availability on keyboard as others suggested.

  • Of course it has something to do with availability on keyboards as well. If inputting Latin characters were beyond the skills of the average user, you wouldn’t see them mixed in with regular text in this way at all, except in specialised contexts, but we do see this kind of intermixing in regular writing. Normal users who aren’t mathematically savvy would very likely not use Greek letters for angles for the same reason: they don’t know how to type them. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 12:32
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet the plot in the OP is not from computer at all.
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 12:34
  • No, the plot isn’t, but the plot isn’t what the question is specifically about. Also, those would be Latin letters here as well since they’re just denoting measured segments. I’m not a mathematician so my context is specifically generic and non-specialised, but I’ve never seen anyone use Greek letters for that purpose (except when writing in Greek, of course). Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 12:37
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet Greek letters are used for angles.
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 12:38
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet the Greek letters are also used for planes: sovietime.ru/images/1-AVTOMATOM/geometr-9-10-1978_90ed8.jpg
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 12:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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