Russian language

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russkiy yazyk
русский язык[1]
Pronunciation[ˈruskʲɪj jɪˈzɨk] (About this soundlisten)
Native toRussia, Ukraine, Belarus and other neighbouring Post-Soviet states
Native speakers
150 million (2010)[2]
260 million (L1 plus L2 speakers) (2012)[3]
Early form
Cyrillic (Russian alphabet)
Russian Braille
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byRussian Language Institute[30] at the Russian Academy of Sciences
Language codes
ISO 639-1ru
ISO 639-2rus
ISO 639-3rus
Linguasphere53-AAA-ea < 53-AAA-e
(varieties: 53-AAA-eaa to 53-AAA-eat)
Russian language status and proficiency in the World.svg
States where Russian is an official language (dark blue) or spoken as a first or second language by 10% or more of the population (teal)

Russian (Russian: русский язык, transliteration: russkiy yaz'ik) is the main language of Russia. It is also spoken in other parts of the former Soviet Union. It is spoken by many people in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan and Estonia.

Russian is one of the Slavic languages. The Slavic languages belong to the family of Indo-European languages. Russian is one of the three East Slavic languages. The other two are Ukrainian and Belarusian. More people speak Russian than any other Slavic language.

Written Russian does not use the Latin alphabet like English and the West Slavic languages do. It uses a script called Cyrillic, whose letters, like that of Latin, came from Greek, but look different from them. The other East Slavic languages, as well as some of the South Slavic languages, use the same script.

Russian is an official language of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, along with English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese.

Standard Russian[change | change source]

A poem by Alexander Pushkin read in Russian

Standard Russian is also called modern literary Russian (Современный русский литературный язык). It first appeared at the beginning of the 18th century. At that time Peter the Great was working to make the Russian state more modern. Standard Russian grew out of the dialect of Russian spoken by people in Moscow and the area around Moscow. In some ways, Standard Russian was also like the Russian used in government offices in earlier centuries.

Lomonosov put together the first book on Russian grammar in 1755. The Russian Academy of Sciences published the first full dictionary of Russian in 1783. The grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of Russian became stable and were standardized at the end of the 18th and in the 19th century. This was the "Golden Age" of Russian literature. Russian literature became famous throughout the world.

All of Russia began to use Russian as its language of literature, education, and official communication. Until the 20th century, only the upper classes and people in cities spoke the literary language. Russians from the countryside continued to speak their local dialects. Starting in the 20th century, all children were required to go to school. Many people had radios and televisions. This helped spread Standard Russian. In the 20th century the dialects of Russian mostly disappeared. They were gone by the middle of the century. Standard Russian replaced them almost completely.

Naming[change | change source]

In Russian, a person's name has three parts. These are the first name, the second name and the family name.

Parents choose the first name for their child. Some common Russian names for boys are Ivan, Vladimir, Mikhail, and Nikolai. Some common Russian names for girls are Anna, Anastasia, Svetlana and Yekaterina.

The second name is called the patronymic. It comes from the first name of one's father. The Russian word for this is otchestvo. Take, for example, a boy whose father is named Ivan. The boy's patronymic is Ivanovich. Another example: a boy's father is named Nikolai. The boy's patronymic is Nikolaevich. If a girl's father is named Ivan, her patronymic is Ivanovna. If her father is named Nikolai, her patronymic is Nikolaevna. The patronymic of a boy ends with ovich or evich. The patronymic of a girl ends with ovna or evna.

Boys have the same family name as their fathers. Girls also use their father's family name, but with one difference. An a is put on the end of the name. Take, for example, a man with the family name Romanov. His son's family name is Romanov. His daughter's family name is Romanova.

Another example: A man's name is Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov. He has a son named Aleksei and a daughter named Anastasia. The son's full name is Aleksei Nikolaevich Romanov. The daughter's full name is Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova.

There are also many people in Russia with family names that are not Russian. Some of these names have only one form. That means the family name is the same for sons and daughters. Some examples are Glushko (a Ukrainian name), Rubinstein (a German/Jewish name) or Shevardnadze (a Georgian name).

Grammar[change | change source]

Case[change | change source]

Like Latin, Greek, and German, Russian has a case system. In Russian the case system applies to nouns, pronouns, adjectives, numerals and participles. The case system is a set of word endings (sounds/letters attached to the ends of words) that show the grammatical roles of words in a sentence. Because the grammatical roles are shown by the endings, the order of words in a sentence is more free in Russian than, for example, in English. There are six cases in Russian. The nominative case, which is the form listed in the dictionary, is used for the subject of the sentence. The genitive case often shows ownership. The accusative case is used for a direct object, the dative case for an indirect object. The instrumental case is used for the tool or instrument with which something is done. The prepositional case is used after certain prepositions, such as "in" and "on", but other prepositions may require the use of other cases. Each of the cases has other uses besides the basic ones just listed.

Gender and Number[change | change source]

In Russian, nouns have one of three genders: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Masculine nouns usually end in consonants, neuter nouns usually end in -o or -e, and feminine nouns usually end in -a or -я. There is also the plural, which acts much like a fourth gender - when a word is made into the plural, its gender does not matter as far as the case system is concerned.

Adjectives[change | change source]

In Russian, an adjective (a describing word) must agree with the word it describes in gender and number. In the nominative case, adjectives that describe feminine words usually end in -ая or -яя. Ones that describe masculine words usually end in -ый, -ий or -ой. Ones that describe neuter words usually end in -ое or -ее. Ones that describe plural words usually end in -ые or -ие. These endings change depending on the case.

References[change | change source]

  1. On the history of using "русский" ("russkij") and "российский" ("rossijskij") as the Russian adjectives denoting "Russian", see: Oleg Trubachyov. 2005. Русский – Российский. История, динамика, идеология двух атрибутов нации (pp 216–227). В поисках единства. Взгляд филолога на проблему истоков Руси., 2005. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-01-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) . On the 1830s change in the Russian name of the Russian language and its causes, see: Tomasz Kamusella. 2012. The Change of the Name of the Russian Language in Russian from Rossiiskii to Russkii: Did Politics Have Anything to Do with It?(pp 73–96). Acta Slavica Iaponica. Vol 32, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-01-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Världens 100 största språk 2010" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010), in Nationalencyklopedin
  3. Russian language. Archived 2015-05-10 at the Wayback Machine University of Leicester. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  4. "Article 68. Constitution of the Russian Federation". Archived from the original on 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  5. "Article 17. Constitution of the Republic of Belarus". 1998-05-11. Archived from the original on 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  6. N. Nazarbaev (2005-12-04). "Article 7. Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
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  8. "Article 2. Constitution of Tajikistan". Archived from the original on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  9. (2008-08-05). "Article 16. Legal code of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri)". Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Abkhazia and South Ossetia are only partially recognized countries
  11. (Russian) Статья 6. Конституция Республики Абхазия
  12. (Russian) Статья 4. Конституция Республики Южная Осетия
  13. "Article 12. Constitution of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  14. Constitution and Fundamental Law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1977: Section II, Chapter 6, Article 36
  15. "Charter of Organization for democracy and economic development – GUAM – GUAM". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05.
  16. "Law "On Principles of State Language Policy", Article 7". Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  17. The Constitution of Ukraine. Article 10.
  18. The status of Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is under dispute between Russia and Ukraine since March 2014; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, whereas Russia, on the other hand, considers Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Русский язык стал региональным в Севастополе, Донецкой и Запорожской обл". RosBusinessConsulting. 16 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  20. "Русскому языку на Харьковщине предоставили статус регионального" Archived 2012-12-22 at the Wayback Machine. Ukrinform (Russian)
  21. "Николаевский облсовет сделал русский язык региональным" Archived 2012-09-09 at the Wayback Machine. Новости Донбасса (Russian)
  22. Одеська державна адміністрація (2013-06-01). "Про заходи щодо імплементації положень Закону України "Про засади державної мовної політики" на території Одеської області". Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 148 (Status as of: 21/9/2011)". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  24. "National Minorities Policy of the Government of the Czech Republic". Archived from the original on 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  25. Юрий Подпоренко (2001). "Бесправен, но востребован. Русский язык в Узбекистане". Дружба Народов. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  26. Шухрат Хуррамов (2015-09-11). "Почему русский язык нужен узбекам?". Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  27. Евгений Абдуллаев (2009). "Русский язык: жизнь после смерти. Язык, политика и общество в современном Узбекистане". Неприкосновенный запас. Archived from the original on 2016-06-23. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
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  29. "New York State Legislature".
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  31. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Russian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Russian language at Wikimedia Commons