Russian (RU), officially known as Русское язычество (Rossosheye Yazykstvo; RU), is an East Slavic language belonging to the family of Indo-European languages. Its most recent attestation dates back to 988 AD.
The modern standard written form of the language derives from the 15th century and is based on the Old Novgorod dialect. In terms of the number of speakers, it ranks third worldwide after English and Mandarin Chinese.
Russia is home to almost 80% of the world’s ethnic Russians, making it one of the largest concentrations of Russophones outside of Russia itself. However, due to large-scale immigration since the fall of communism, today there are significant minorities of Russians living in every region of the former Soviet Union except the Baltic states and Central Asia.
In addition to the Russian Federation, the majority of the population of Rusia lives within the boundaries of 11 regions of Russia, while several major cities such as Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Yaroslavl, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Khabarovsk Krai, Perm Krai, Sakhalin Oblast, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Magadan Oblast, Primorsky Krai and Kaliningrad Oblast have sizeable Russian populations.
For the purposes of statistical analysis, the term “Russian” is used synonymously with “Russophone”, although the latter term refers specifically to those individuals whose mother tongue is Russian.
Gallup International conducted surveys in Georgia, Moldova and Armenia in 2017 and 2018 to determine how local residents view learning the Russian language. In each case, survey respondents expressed positive views about learning Russian.
In Georgia, where Russian language is widely used in commerce, politics, education, media, government and culture, roughly three out of four Georgians surveyed say it is important for them to learn the Russian language. More than half of those surveyed in both countries think it is very important or somewhat important to learn Russian.
By contrast, fewer than one in five Americans agree that learning Russian is important. A majority of Russians believe that learning Russian language helps international relations, while less than half of Americans feel the same way.
In addition, nearly nine out of ten Georgians surveyed say they would like to learn more about the history of Russia, and nearly eight out of 10 want to know more about the history of the former USSR. Less than half of American adults agree. In Armenia, the percentage of respondents saying it is important to learn Russian rose from 64% in 2016 to 74% in 2018.
These findings are consistent with data showing that over the past decade, the percentage of Georgian adults who speak Russian increased from 38% in 2005 to 54% in 2013.
The oldest known writings in Russia date from the 10th century. They were discovered near the city of Novgorod and include documents from the local archives. Some of the manuscripts contain fragments of religious texts while others deal with administrative matters. Written Russian evolved into a standard language under the rule of Peter the Great (1672–1725).
During his reign, he promoted literacy among Russians and encouraged writers to write in a way that reflected their native tongue. He also introduced a new alphabet, based on the phonetic principle, which allowed people to read books without having to memorize long lists of letters.
This is a version of the Russian cursive handwriting alphabet. Unlike English, where you use one hand to form each letter, you use both hands to write the Russian alphabet. You start with the left hand, writing the consonants, while the right hand writes the vowels. To make it easier to read, some letters are given special shapes.
Russian alphabet (1750-1918)
The Russian alphabet used today is derived from the Latin alphabet. In 1750, the Russian Empire adopted the Latin alphabet, replacing the old Cyrillic script, which had been in use since the 10th century. However, some older documents continued to be written in Cyrillic until 1812, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied most of Eastern Europe. After his defeat, Tsar Alexander I decreed that the Cyrillic script be restored as the primary writing system for the empire.
Russian alphabet (pre-1750)
The Russian alphabet is the most widely spoken language in the world today. It is the basis for many languages around the globe, including English, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen, Azerbaijani, Tatar, Bashkir, Chechen, Mordvin, Avar, Kabardian, Balkar, Komi, Karachay-Balkar, Kumyk, Nogai, Romany, Volga Bulgar, Crimean Tatar, Yakut, Sami, Shushenski, Chuvash, Mansi, Khanty, Even, Ostyak, Veps, Yukaghirs, Magyars, Finno-Ugric peoples, and others.
The term “standard Russian” refers to the variety of Russian used in written communication and literature. A number of different definitions are given in the article.
In general, it is accepted that the modern Russian literary language emerged in the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the tsarist government adopted the Latin alphabet and began to publish texts in Russian. Before that, the Russian language had been developing since the Middle Ages, but there was no single standardised version of it, and each region had its own dialect.
However, the development of the Russian language was hindered by the fact that it was spoken by several people, and thus it became difficult to communicate among them. In addition, the feudal system led to the division of society into separate territories, where people lived under distinct rulers and often spoke different languages. Thus, the lack of uniformity among the inhabitants of the territory resulted in the formation of regional dialects.