- The Russian language (русский язык (russkij yazyk)) is the most widely spoken
of the Slavic languages.
- Russian is the official language of Russia, and an official
language of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russian is one of the
six official languages of the United Nations.
- Russian is also spoken widely in Israel by the approximately one
million ethnic Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Much of
the Israeli press and websites frequently include articles written in
Russian for local readers.
- There is a number of dialects spoken in Russia. Some linguists
divide the Russian language into two dialects, "Northern" and
"Southern," with Moscow lying on the zone of transition betwen the
two. Others divide the language into three dialects, Northern, Central
and Southern, with Moscow lying in the region of the Central dialect.
- Russian imperial political policy formerly asserted that the Ukrainian
and the Belarussian were not separate languages in their own right,
but were to be considered part of the Russian language. Linguists,
however, distinguish today these three as separate languages of the East
- The Russian language developed from early
native Slavic settlement influenced by Finno-Ugric surroundings. An
early overlay and infusion of Old Church Slavonic was very decisive in
the local language formation.
Later political developments brought Mongolian and European
influences. The Russian scholar Meleti Smotritsky was
instrumental in the work to standardize
the Russian language. Reforms were also
introduced at the time of Peter the Great, and the orthography was
simplified in the 20th century around the time of the Russian
- Russian is written using a modified version of the Cyrillic (кириллица)
alphabet, consisting of 33 letters.
- Russian spelling is reasonably phonetic in practice. It is in fact
a balance among phonetics, morphology, etymology, and grammar, and,
like that of most living languages, has its share of inconsistencies
and controversial points. The current spelling follows the major
reform of 1918, and the final codification of 1956. An update proposed
in the late 1990's has met a hostile reception, and has not been
formally adopted. The punctuation, originally based on Byzantine
Greek, was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries reformulated on
the French and German models.
- The Russian language possesses five vowels, which are written with
different letters depending on whether or not the preceding consonant
is palatalized. The consonants typically come in plain vs. palatalized
pairs, which are traditionally called hard and soft. (The 'hard'
consonants are often velarized, some dialects only velarize /l/ in
such positions). The standard language, based on the Moscow dialect,
possesses heavy stress and moderate variation in pitch. Stressed
vowels are somewhat lengthened, while unstressed vowels (except /u/)
tend to be reduced to an unclear schwa.
- Russian is notable for its distinction based on palatalization of
most of the consonants.
- The spoken language has been influenced by the literary, but
continues to preserve characteristic forms. The dialects show various
non-standard grammatical features, some of which are archaisms or
descendants of old forms since discarded by the literary language.
- The total number of words in Russian is difficult to reckon
because of the ability to agglutinate and create manifold compounds,
- The political upheavals of the early twentieth
century and the wholesale changes of political ideology gave written
Russian its modern appearance after the spelling reform of 1918.
Political circumstances and Soviet accomplishments in military,
scientific, and technological matters (especially cosmonautics), gave
Russian a world-wide if occasionally grudging prestige, especially
during the middle third of the twentieth century.
Babylon's Free Translation
Online Bilingual Library of Russian Literature -
Collection of texts and
audio, including works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Fet, Krylov, Esenin, Akhmatova
and Chekhov provided by the Online Russian Language Center. Texts are
available in Russian and English.
Free Open Source Software for
- a free website with links to
resources around the internet grouped into categories
Top Language Jobs
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language jobs in the UK, London and Europe.
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Translit RU_EN - Transliteration of
Russian, includes spell check and multiple transliteration standards.
Translit.ru - Online