Every day, I wait for the postal mail, hoping I will receive a letter from Ukraine or Russia that will give me more information on my relatives. Once, it was a hassle to see a letter typed in Russian or Ukrainian in the mail. I would scan letters and then e-mail them to my mom, who would translate the letters.
I was so thrilled when I found out I could retype letters written in Russian and Ukrainian. You don’t need to download expensive programs. Several free websites offer virtual Russian and Ukrainian keyboards.
My favorite Russian virtual keyboard is at russian.typeit.org. The Russian alphabet letters- т е о а к м x are the same letters on English keyboard. Then, the Russian letter B is the letter V on the English keyboard. The Russian letter P is the letter R on the English keyboard. The Russian letter H is the letter N on the English keyboard.
Most letters on the English keyboard lineup with the Russian keyboard on russian.typeit.org. This makes typing a one to two-page letter less painful.
The easiest Ukrainian keyboard is at enetplanet.com/kb_ua. The English keyboard does not match the Ukrainian keyboard lineup. The only difference between Russian and Ukrainian alphabets are these two letters ї і. They look alike but they are not the same letters.
Retyping Russian and Ukrainian letters can be annoying but it is much better than paying someone $50 to translate a letter that you can do for free after 20 minutes of typing.
The Russian and Ukrainian virtual keyboards also are great for searching Google if you know how to spell your family’s name or village in cyrillic. More information can be found on your relatives and ancestors in Russian and Ukrainian, than in English. Many results in English aren’t very useful sometimes.
I have remembered more of my Russian from my childhood by retyping letters and having Promt translate my letters. If you need background on the Russia and Ukrainian alphabets, visit Wikipedia’s pages at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_alphabet and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_alphabet. Learning Russian and Ukrainian letters is not as hard it seems. The grammar is the most difficult.