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Do you know?
Russian is a widely spoken global language:
It is the eighth most spoken language with 154 million native and over 60 million non-native speakers.
It is one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations.
Russian is the official language in Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan. Besides, it is widely used in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and some other countries.
History of the Russian Language
The Russian language belongs to the East Slavic subgroup of Slavic languages. It is a part of the Indo-European language family and has a rich and complex history. As Indo-European tribes started to spread to the East as well as to the West, new dialect groups were formed. The Slavic tribes settled in present-day eastern Europe developed their own language, which is now known as the Proto Slavonic or Common Slavonic.
Around 500 AD, Common-Slavonic was further divided into three distinct language groups- Eastern, Western, and Southern. Later, Eastern Slavic gave birth to three modern languages, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian. However, the timeline of the evolution of this language is somewhat obscured and debated as no written evidence of this time could be found.
The first written record of Eastern Slavic (Old Russian) can be traced back to the 9th century. In 862 AD, Thessalonian Monks Cyril and Methodius took the initiative of translating the Bible and other religious scriptures into Slavic language so that common people could access them. Around this time, Cyril and Methodius developed a complex writing system (Glagolitic alphabet) based on the Macedonian dialect. Later, other missionaries simplified the writing system and developed the Cyrillic alphabet. However, some historians believe Cyril himself developed the writing system. This writing system was mostly based on the Greek alphabet, with a dozen additional letters representing Slavic sounds.
A drastic reformation of the language was undertaken in the 15th century after the decline of the Byzantine Empire. During this time, scholars who emigrated to Moscow felt the need for a standardized Slavic language. They reintroduced some archaic expressions and phonemes in an attempt to restore the ‘purity’ of the language.
In the 18th century, Tsar Peter the Great made some changes in the writing system as a part of his westernizing policy. During this time, some irrelevant Greek letters were discarded from the alphabet to make it simpler.
During this time, the scholars were still not in agreement about which style of language was best suited for literary works- the Old Church Slavonic or the modern colloquial variations. In the 19th century, the great Russian poet Alexandar Pushkin began to combine both variations in his writings. Pushkin is considered the father of the modern Russian language as his style became the norm for later literary works.
During the Soviet era, the Communist government reformed the language further so anybody could learn it without difficulties. A few phonemes were discarded, and the hard sign was eliminated altogether, as they were irrelevant to the contemporary language.
Why learn Russian?
How to learn Russian?
Is it hard to learn Russian?
Russian is one of the most difficult languages to learn for people unfamiliar with other Slavic languages like Czech or Bulgarian.
What makes it challenging to learn Russian?
Russian grammar is considered incredibly hard and complex. Many exceptions to the grammar rule make it even more difficult to grasp. Every Russian verb has two forms—perfective and imperfective. It can be challenging for a foreigner to understand which form to use in a particular situation. Besides, unlike English, Russian nouns are grammatically gendered. You need to change the adjective based on the gender of the noun it describes.
However, the most challenging aspect of learning Russian is its cases. The end of a word in Russian changes according to its relationship with other words in a sentence. The word order in Russian is fluid, and the same sentence can be said in multiple ways. The ending of the word reflects its position in a sentence. The Russian has six cases, and each of these cases is used in conjunction with different prepositions and grammatical circumstances. Each gender and number have its own set of word endings reflecting six cases. The preposition you use needs to match both cases and gender. It can be a daunting task to memorize and apply all these complex grammar rules, and as a non-native speaker, it may take you significant time to get the hang of the rules.