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Languages > Russian
Most Popular Russian Language Product Types
Baby - Kindergarten
WHERE'S THE PUPPY? board book in Russian & English
Russian New Testament - Synodal Version
Children's Books
Pied Piper Children's Book in Russian/English (Paperback)
Little Red Hen in Russian & English (PB)
Word to Word Russian / English Dictionary (Paperback)
Harry Potter
Harry Potter in Russian [6] and Half-Blood Prince/Garri Potter i Prints-polukrovka
Russian and English Keyboard USB Wired Black
Keyboard Stickers
Keyboard Stickers for Russian/Cyrillic blue
Speak To Me ESL for Russian Speakers - DVD Level 1
Microsoft Windows
Russian Microsoft Windows NT Workstation OEM Version
Bilingual Baby Russian (VHS)
Software - Windows
State Russian Museum's Exhibitions (CD-ROM),The
IDRT - Russian Sign Language/American Sign Language Translator
Virtual St.Petersburg
All Russian language product types

Language Information

Russian is the most important of the Slavic languages and now one of the major languages of the world. The emergence of the Soviet Union in the postwar period as a major world power, coupled with tmpressive achievements in science and technology, has significantly increased the interest in and the study of Russian in recent years. With English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic, Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Of the 150 million people in the Russian Federation, about 125 million are native Russians, with many members of other nationalities speaking the language with varying degrees of fluency. About 30 million Russians also live in the newly independent states that were once part of the Soviet Union, with the numbers by country as follows: Ukraine — 12 million; Kazakhstan — 8 million; Belarus — 3½ million; Uzbekistan — 2½ million; Latvia — one million; Kyrgystan — one million; Moldova — 600,000; Azerbaijan — 500,000; Turkmenistan — 400,000; Lithuania — 350,000; Armenia — 50,000. Latest figures also show 250,000 Russian speakers in the United States and 40,000 in Canada.

Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, whose origin dates from the 9th century. Its creators were two missionaries from Greece, the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who based it largely on the Greek. Though appearing formidable to one who has never studied it, the Russian alphabet is not difficult to learn. A number of letters are written and pronounced approximately as in English (A, K, M, 0, T), while others, though written as in English, are pronounced differently (B = V, E = YE, Ë = YO, H = N, P = R, C = S, X = KH).


If learning the Russian alphabet is not especially difficult, learning to speak the language is something else again. Russian is notorious for its long personal and place names (e.g., Nepomnyashchiy, Dnepropetrovsk), for its long words (upotrehienie—use, dostoprimchatelnosti—sights, zhenonenavistniehestvo—misogyny), and for its unusual con-sonant clusters (vzvod—platoon, tknut'—to poke, vstreeha—meeting). Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and numbers are declined in six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and preposi-tional or locative. The Russian verb has two aspects, each represented by a separate infinitive-the imperfective to indicate a continuing action, and the perfective to indicate an action already completed or to be completed. The genders number three, masculine, feminine, and neuter, with a different declensional pattern for each (though the neuter is similar to the masculine), and a fourth one for the plural. The stress in Russian is particularly difficult, impossible to predict in an unfamiliar word, and frequently shifting in the course of declensions or conjugations.

Yet despite these difficulties, Russian is being mastered by an increasing number of students in many different countries. They have found it worth the effort for many reasons, not the least of which is the great body of Russian literature which ranks among the most brilliant in the world.

English words of Russian origin include vodka, tsar, samovar, ruble, pogrom, troika, steppe, and tundra. The word sputnik entered the language in 1957.

Russian is spoken/used in the following countries:
Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bashkortostan, Belarus, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Svalbard, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States of America, Uzbekistan.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Slavic
Branch: Estern

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


"What's this? Am I falling? My legs are giving way under me," he thought, and fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle of the French soldiers with the artillerymen was ending, and eager to know whether the red-haired artilleryman was killed or not, whether the cannons had been taken or saved. But he saw nothing of all that. Above him there was nothing but the sky—the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds creeping quietly over it.

LEO TOLSTOY, War and Peace

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