As footnotes to recent postings, here are two nice pictures. The first (thanks, Istvan Ertl) is a sign from the St Petersburg metro. It directs Russians to keep to the left, but tells foreigners… to collide with them.
The second is from Latvia, sent to me by Stephen Bryant. It relates not to Russian but to Latvian, a language strongly influenced by Russian during the days of the Soviet Union. Unlike most other languages that use the Latin alphabet, Latvian always respells loanwords from foreign languages in accordance with the usual Latvian spelling/reading rules. As we saw (blog, 2 June), Russian does this too — it’s unavoidable, of course, for languages that use a writing system other than the Latin alphabet. So cheeseburger takes on another new guise, čīzburger. Note also bekonu (bacon, with a case ending).
Latvian is one of the very few modern languages that use the symbol ī (with macron, to show the length of the vowel). Is it actually the only one, or do readers know of others? This letter is used in the name of the capital, Riga, written in Latvian as Rīga.