Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The language has its roots all the way back to 1000AD and has continued to evolve throughout the ages, becoming what we know today as Modern Russian. Part of the natural evolution of the Russian language has been the formation of various dialects which most scholars classify under one of two regions; either Northern and Southern with Moscow being the transitional area.
The Russian language is globally the most spoken language of the Slavic languages. Though the present-day Russian language is believed to have been in existence since the 17th century, the basic Slavic languages from which the Russian language is derived have existed since the 11th century.
In Russia itself, researchers say there are around 175 million mother-tongue speakers of the Russian language. It has also been noted that there are nearly 100 million more people throughout the world who speak Russian as a second language. The position of the USSR as a Superpower helped the Russian language to grow in importance to such an extent that it was able to gain official status in organizations such as the United Nations.
Russian language dialects are classified into the Northern Russian dialect, Southern Russian dialect and Central Russian dialect. Each dialect has its own distinct style of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. Furthermore, there are several other dialects derived from these Russian dialects.
Major Characteristics of the Russian Language
The Russian language alphabet is composed of 33 letters. Russian language characters are coded in several ways, and although the government has established a standard coding system, there are many inconsistencies in using this standard coding system.
In the Russian language there are three genders, namely masculine, feminine and neutral.
There are six cases of nouns in the Russian language: accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental, locative, and nominative. In some situations a seventh case of noun, i.e. vocative, is also used in the Russian language.
Like English, there are three tenses in the Russian language, past, present and future. There is some controversy about tense, since some linguists claim that there are other tenses that cannot be translated in the English language. The verbs in the Russian language have four voices.
The Russian language is considered to be one of the first of three languages that are difficult to learn. The logic behind such a conclusion could be the various distinguishing consonants and other minute variants found in the Russian language.
The Russian language is believed to be the most widely spoken native language in all of Europe. The Russian speaking population is distributed throughout the West in several urban cities in North America, in various European countries and even inhabits the far east corner of the globe.
Outside of Russia, the Russian language is the official language of many other countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. There are also millions of Russian speaking people in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Estonia, Israel, Greece, Germany, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
The several hundred millions of Russian speaking people spread throughout the world are a promising group of consumers that, in these days of heavy competition, any business would like to target, thus compelling them to use the Russian language as their medium for communication.
The Northern Dialect of the Russian language is spoken North of Moscow and along the Volga River. The dialects of this region don’t exhibit typical vowel reduction in unstressed syllables. Among the dialects of the Northern Region are Pomor, Olonets, Novgorod, Vologda-Kirov, and Vladimir-Volga.
The Southern Dialects are spoken around Tula, Ryazan, Oryol, Lipestk, Tambov and most of Kaluga, Voronezh , and Kursk Oblasts. These dialects are also found in the southern part of Penza and the western part of Saratov, Don Voisko Oblasts.
There are language scholars that insist on dividing the dialects into three groups; the above-named Northern and Southern dialects, as well as the Central Dialects. They maintain that the Central Dialects are spoken in and around Moscow.
Very few dialects are actually part of this group as it mainly consists of dialects from the Northern origin that have taken on some of the Southern dialects characteristics. The official dialect of the Russian language stems from this small group of dialects. The Central Dialect is mainly spoken in Moscow and in some of the surrounding areas.
Russia is kaleidoscope of dialects that reflect its ancient origins as well as the unique culture it stems from.