Russian is the most widely spoken language of Eurasia and the most widespread of the Slavic languages.
Russian is a Slavic language in the Indo-European family. From the point of view of the spoken language, its closest relatives are Ukrainian and Belarusian, the other two national languages in the East Slavic group.
The basic vocabulary, principles of word formation, inflections and literary style of Russian have been also influenced by Church Slavonic, a developed and partly adopted form of the South Slavic Old Church Slavonic language used by the Russian Orthodox Church. The vocabulary and literary style of Russian have also been greatly influenced by Greek, Latin, French, German, and English.
Modern Russian also has a considerable number of words adopted from Bulgarian, Tatar and some other Turkic languages.
Russian is classified as a level III language in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers. It is also regarded by the United States Intelligence Community as a “hard target” language, due to both its difficulty to master for English speakers as well as due to its critical role in American foreign policy.
Russian is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
A number of dialects exist in Russia. Some linguists divide the dialects of the Russian language into two primary regional groupings, “Northern” and “Southern”, with Moscow lying on the zone of transition between the two. The dialects often show distinct and non-standard features of pronunciation and intonation, vocabulary, and grammar.
Russian is written in a non-Latin script using a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet, consisting of 33 letters.
А (a) Б (b) В (v) Г (g) Д (d) Е (ye) Ё (jo) Ж (zh) З (z) И (i) Й (j) К (k) Л (l) М (m) Н (n) О (o) П (p) Р (r) С (s) Т (t) У (u) Ф (f) Х (h) Ц (ts) Ч (ch) Ш (sh) Щ (sch) Ъ (-) Ы (y) Ь (-) Э (e) Ю (ju) Я (ja)
The Russian alphabet (azbuka) does not have a well established system of character encoding yet, and several encodings (KOI8-R, Windows-1251, ISO.) are currently in use. For communication purposes, a number of conversion applications were developed.
Russian spelling is reasonably phonemic in practice. 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.
Stress in Russian is generally quite unpredictable and can be placed on almost any syllable, one of the most difficult aspects for foreign language learners.
English Words of Russian origin
Many languages, including English, contain words most likely borrowed from the Russian language. Not all of the words are truly fluent Russian or Slavic origin. Some of them co-exist in other Slavic languages and it is difficult to decide whether they made English from Russian or, say, from Polish, most of these being vodka. Some other words are borrowed or constructed from the classical ancient languages, such as Latin or Greek. Still others are borrowed from indigenous peoples of Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Empire.
Most of them are used to denote things and notions specific to Russia, Russian culture, politics, history, especially well-known outside Russia:
babushka, balalaika, cosmonaut, gulag, intelligentsia, kazakh, kopeck, kremlin, matryoshka , molotov, pogrom, ruble (rouble), samovar, shapka, sputnik, steppe, taiga, troika (dance) , troika (sled), vodka
Source: Wikipedia. (This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “Metasyntactic variable”)