Language Centre Resources - Russian


An Indo-European language and a member of the East Slavonic group of languages spoken by some 280 million people as their first or second language in the Russian Federation, where it is the official language, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, where it is one of the official languages, and about 30 other countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Greece, and the Baltic countries; sizeable émigré communities live in Canada, the USA, Israel and some Western European countries. Russian is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The closest linguistic affiliation is with Ukrainian and Belarusian.

The language can be traced back to the 11th century. The earliest written documents were in Old Church Slavonic, one of the liturgical languages of the Orthodox Church. Spoken language became fully codified during the reign of Peter the Great (1672-1725). The dialect of Moscow was taken as the Russian standard and the Cyrillic script was revised and simplified. Among the most prominent scholars involved in the reforms is Mikhail Lomonosov, whose Russian Grammar was first published in 1755.

Russian literature is rich and influential, and it particularly flourished in the 19th century, when among its best-known representatives were two great novelists: Leo Tolstoy and Fedor Dostoyevskii, two poets: Aleksander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov and playwright Anton Chekhov.

The language is spelt in the Roman alphabet with diacritics.

CLASSIFICATION = Indo-European family     SCRIPT = Cyrillic