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Russian: The language of space

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9 Facts About the Russian language


Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world.


Russian is one of the three Eastern Slavic languages; the other two are Belarusian and Ukrainian.


The Cyrillic alphabet has thirty-three letters, of which ten are vowels, twenty-one consonants and two have no sound.


The vowels have five sounds, and they are written differently according to whether they follow a hard or soft consonant.


There are only about 200,000 words in the Russian language, but this is double the size of the 19th century vocabulary.


Some Russian words have been borrowed by the English language. Some intriguing examples include bolshevik, cosmonaut, mammoth, pogrom, samovar and vodka.


Native Russian words typically do not start with the letter “a”. Instead, words are prefixed with the sound "й."


Russian words that have Asian origins often represent objects.


Russian is one of the six official languages used at the United Nations.

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Origin of the language

Russian emerged in the Old East Slavic states.

History of the language

The Russian language emerged during the middle of the 15th century.

Learning the language

An English speaker should expect to learn Russian in 1100 hours.

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Russian language diversity

Russian is the official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; it is a recognized regional language in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine as well.

Although the Russian language is spoken in many countries, linguists only identify three Russian dialects: northern, southern, and central, whereby the latter is heavily influenced by the first two. The main variants of Russian include Russian (UKR) and Russian (BY).

Did you know?

Russian is spoken by nearly 170 million Russian natives and 130 million inhabitants of former republics of the Soviet Union; this means there is a significant amount of diversity.

Each dialect has its own distinct style of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

The southern dialects are spoken around Tula, Ryazan, Oryol, Lipetsk, Tambov, and most of Kaluga, Voronezh and Kursk Oblasts.

In the mid-1800s, standard Russian with the Moscow dialect became the official language.

The northern dialect of the Russian language is spoken north of Moscow and along the Volga River.

The central dialect is predominantly spoken in Moscow and some surrounding areas.

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Russian language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Russian;


Good morning=Доброе утро




Thank you=Спасибо



Good-bye=До свидания


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In days of doubt, in days of dreary musings on my country's fate, you alone are my comfort and support, oh great, powerful, righteous, and free Russian language!

Ivan Turgenev

Novelist, poet and Playwright

Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Novelist, philosopher and journalist

She decided that day to study Russian, the language of violence, terror, and absurdity. She knew she would never be bored.

Natalie Standiford

Writer and student of Russian Language

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Fun facts about the Russian language

Many words for blue

The Russian language splits the shades of blue into different words, such as голубой for light shades and синий for darker shades.

Language of space

If you've ever dreamt of going to space or becoming an astronaut, you may need to learn Russian. It is known as the language of space.

Gender-specific middle names

Russian middle names can vary and sound different according to gender. The body of the name remains the same, but a gender-specific suffix is added.

No present tense for “to be”

The verb "to be" only exists in the past and future tense. In Russian, the phrase "to be" (быть) exists, but it is never used in the present tense.

One adjective with one syllable

All Russian adjectives have several syllables – with one exception: the word злой, which means  "angry" has only one syllable.

Spoken in Eurasia

In Eurasia, Russian is the most widespread language. It is listed even higher than China with nearly seven times as many speakers.

One word with many meanings

In Russian, a word's stress pattern can dramatically change its meaning. For instance, я плачу could mean "I'm paying" or "I'm crying" depending on which syllable is stressed.

A blessing by thanking

The word "spasibo" (Russian: спаси́бо - thank you) originally meant "спаси бог" which translates to "god save."

Word for Germans

Interestingly, the word for "German" in Russian is "неме́цкий" (Nemetski) which translates to "those who can't speak."

Similarity to English

About 10% of Russian words are similar to English ones, which many people may not know. For example, кофе (pronounced "Kofi") is "coffee."

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