Russian is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and is widely spoken in many European and Central Asian nations that formerly made up the Soviet Union. Russian is an official language of the European Union and the UN, is the most spoken language by native speakers in Europe (140 million speakers) and the second most read language of the internet after English.
Russia is home to some of the world’s finest traditions in the arts such as ballet, theatre, cinema, literature, etc. Due to the size of the country and its natural resources, the Russian market is also of great interest to foreign businessmen.
Sentences are constructed in a predictable word order and there are only three tenses in Russian. The tricky elements of learning Russian are its pronunciation, grammar and stress patterns – all common difficulties of inflective languages. Russian has 33 letters in the alphabet and is written in the Cyrillic script. Cyrillic is an easy alphabet to learn as it is a bioproduct of both the Latin and Greek alphabets - making it very easy for all Europeans to learn quickly!
Russian has a small vocabulary with only 200,000 words in the entire language compared with over 1 million words in English. Only two native Russian words start with a ‘A’ - азбука (alphabet) and авось (perhaps) if the word starts with an ‘A’ it is a ‘loanword’ and has been imported from another language. Predominately, loanwords from French, Italian, German and English are used daily in spoken Russian.
As the most widely spoken Slavic language, being able to speak Russian makes it easier to learn other languages from the same family including: Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Slovene.
Russian words in English are few and far between compared with other European languages but ‘balaclava’, ‘mammoth’ and of course ‘vodka’ all have Russian origins!