|History and Growth
The Slavic dialect called Old
Russian was spoken in Eastern Europe, todays Russian Federation, until the end of
the XIII Century. In those days, Russian language started to separate from the other
Eastern Slavic languages (Ukrainian and Belarus). At the same time, the prevailing written
language was the Old Bulgarian or Old Slavic, introduced by the Old Slavic Church, which
had Christianized Russia in the X Century. However, as time passed, written and spoken
language separated, and even though the first one remained as the literary and
administrative language until the XVIII Century, it was incomprehensible for most of the
population. Around the XVIII Century, the Czar Peter I the Great boosted a westernization
of the culture that promoted huge quantity of loanwords borrowed from Western languages.
This phenomenon produced as a result a new writing, a mixture of the archaic
Ecclesiastical Slave, the vernacular language, and the western loanwords, which reached
its actual state in the XIX Century.
Russian language became the dominant
language of the Russian Empire, and later the Soviet Union, and one of the most effective
weapons to make the territory "Russian" until middle of the 80s. This
happened when the process backfired and produced the cultural resurgence of the Soviet
Ex-Republics and their native languages. However, many of them still kept Russian as the
main language for administrative business. For example in Belarus there has been a move
from the government to go back to teaching high school in Russian.
The Russian alphabet (Cyrillic alphabet) deserves an
especial consideration. It was introduced by Greek Christian missioners coming from
Constantinople (todays Istanbul), around the year 860 AD, when they began to
Christianize the Slaves. It received the name of the Slavic saint: Saint Cirilo. The
alphabet is based on a writing system from the IX Century 's Greek alphabet; to which some
extra symbols were added to represent Slavic sounds unknown to the Greek. Nowadays,
besides Russian, this alphabet is also used by the Ukrainian, Serbian and Bulgarian
languages; however, Polish, Czech, Slovene and Slovak languages utilize Latin writing.
On the other hand, as Russian authorities imposed the
Cyrillic alphabet all over the Russian Empire, it influenced the strong bilingual culture
(between Russian and native language) that characterizes the area. Only a few languages
that showed many difficulties to be converted stayed unaltered.
Russian is an Indo-European language that belongs to
the eastern branch of Slavic languages that spread into Eastern Europe. Among its main
characteristics one can highlight that it uses its own writing system (Cyrillic alphabet),
which differs from the Latin alphabet used in Western Indo-European languages and has 33
letters. It is a flexile language that presents six declension cases for every plural and
singular noun and adjective, therefore it doesn't need articles. There are three genders
(masculine. feminine, and neutral), and verbs present a perfect and imperfect aspect plus
the conjugation with three grammatical tenses and three moods. Russian also has many
sibilant and palatalized consonants in its sound system, which is ruled by a few and
simple pronunciation rules. You can also notice the classic order of the sentence, which
places the subject at the beginning, the verb in the middle and the object at the end.
However, this order is flexible depending of the context of the conversation. Word
formation usually uses the derivation system of many big familiar words stemming from one
root with the addition of a series of prefixes and suffixes.
Audio-only program designed to learn conversational
Learn Russian without translations, memorization or grammar drills...