The Odd Etymology of the Russian Blog

Here’s a fun example of how technology affects languages, including Russian.

Let’s take the Russian word for “blog”: лытдыбр (lytdybr). It sounds pretty unpronounceable, or at least it must have an unusual etymology. And it does! The origin of this word is the English computer keyboard.

Here’s a picture of my keyboard that I use:

As can be seen, a typical Russian keyboard has two layouts: the Cyrillic, Russian letters; and the Latin-based, English letters. It takes a simple command (by default, Alt Shift) to switch between the two. If I wanted to write in Russian right now, all I’d have to do is push Alt Shift, and смотрите! Я могу писать по-русски! Я хочу писать по-английски, и here we are! It’s really simple to switch between the two layouts.

Too simple, actually.

If I wanted to type the word дневник (dnevnik, “diary”), I would want to type it in the Russian layout. However, if I accidentally set it to type in the Latin alphabet, I would instead type in lytdybr. Looking at the picture above, you can follow each letter in дневник corresponds to the layout of the English keyboard. Д for L, Н for Y, Е for T, В for D, and so on. 

So, the next step in this process. We have an interesting word here, let’s directly transliterate lytdybr into Cyrillic letters . Hence,  лытдыбр in Russian. 

It all most likely started with someone from Russia simply forgetting to switch from the English-letter layout. And with that, a whole new word was introduced.  


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