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  Wikipedia: Russian language

Wikipedia: Russian language
Russian language
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Russian (русский язык (russkij yazyk)) is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages.

Russian (русский язык [russkij yazyk])
Spoken in:Russia and many adjacent countries
Region:Eastern Europe and Asia
Total speakers: 220 Million
  East Slavic
Official status
Official language of:Russia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, United Nations
Regulated by:-
Language codes
ISO 639-1:ru
ISO 639-2:rus


Early historical records of the territory European Russia point to predominance of tribes of the Finno-Ugric language group. Slavic speakers appear to have established sparse settlements of forts in the borderland areas near Belarus' and Ukraine between the the 6th and the 9th centuries. The incorporation of much of European Russia into the empire of Rus' ushered in the use of Old Church Slavonic in worship and literature, beginning as early as 989. Documentation of the language of this period is scanty, making the question of the relationship between the literary and spoken language difficult at best. Nevertheless, the assimilation of the surrounding Finno-Ugric majority through conquest and conversion by small outposts of Slavic settlement led to massive contributions of the Old Church Slavonic language to the embryonic Russian dialect.

Major divergences with the Old Ruthenian language of Rus' to the south were evident by the 1100s, and these were magnified by the political separations of the break-up of the empire of Ruce, leading to the incorporation of the closest Slavic neighbors of the Russians into the Lithuanian and Polish empires after periods of local independence. The Russian portions of the empire then fell under Mongolian hegemony, leading to new influences on the developing language. Divergences from Old Slavonic increased over the 11th to the 17th centuries to the point of complete separation. Upon Russia's opening to the West, new borrowings from Europeans languages of English, German, French, Polish and Ukrainian occured.

In summary, 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 local language formation. Later political developments brought Mongolian then European influences. The Russian scholar Lomonosov provided some of the early standardization of 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 Revolution.


Geographic Distribution

Russian is primarily spoken in Russia and other nations of the former Soviet Union, and was also widely taught in schools in member countries of the Warsaw Pact and in former Yugoslavia. In Soviet times, Russian was often strongly promoted to the detriment of other local languages. While many of the countries of the former Soviet Union are now promoting their local languages rather than Russian, Russian remains widely spoken in these areas and is often used for intercommunication between these countries.

Official Status

Russian is the official language of Russia, and an official language of Belorussia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russian is one of the five official languages of the United Nations.


There are a number of mutually intelligible dialects spoken in Russia. There is some linguistic debate as to whether Ukrainian and Belarussian constitute dialects of Russian, or seperate languages in their own right.

Derived Languages

Russenorsk is a pidgin language combining Russian and Norwegian. Russian sign language allows deaf people to communicate.


Russian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet.

CapitalSmallNameSoundTypical SAMPA Value;
ЙйEe kratkoyey/j/
ЩщShchashch /Sj/
ЪъTvyordyy znakN/A See Notes Below
ЫыUiui(IPA i with stroke)
ЬьMyagkyy znakN/A See Notes Below

Notes on the Alphabet and Pronunciation of Russian
1. While Russian has a mostly phonetic orthography, there are exceptions. Below are a few of the most common.
- The letter "г" between the letters "e" and "o" is pronunced as /v/, e.g. "его" (his, him) is pronunced /jevo/. This rule only applies when "его" is at the end of the word.
- Voiced consonants with voiceless counterparts lose their voicing at the end of a word, e.g. "строганов" (stroganoff) is pronunced /stroganof/.
- Voiced consonants with voiceless counterparts become unvoiced before voiceless consonants, e.g. "футбол" (soccer/football) is pronunced /fudbol/. -Similarly, voiceless consonants with voiced counterparts become voiced before voiced consonants, e.g. "водка" (vodka) is pronunced /votka/.
-Vowel is only fully pronounced when it is under accent. In the non-accented (weak) position, vowel is "reduced" to the neutral sound. Spelling, on the other hand, doesn't depend on whether position is accented or not.
2. The letter Ё/ё is "optional": it is formally correct to consistently use E/e to represent both /je/ and /jo/.
3. The hard sign (Ъ/ъ)indicates that the preceding consonant is not palatized.
4. The soft sign (Ь/ь)indicates that the preceding consonant is palatized.
5. The vowels Е/е, Ё/ё, И/и, Ю/ю, Я/я make the consonants before them palatal consonant. This means that one pronounces the consonant with the middle of the tongue raised, pressing against the hard palate.




See also: Common phrases in different languages

External Link


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona