The Russian Language
The Russian language is an East Slavic language widely spoken in Russia. It is also an official language in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as in other countries and territories including Tajikistan, Moldova, Gagauzia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. Russian belongs to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is the largest native language in Europe with over 150 million speakers in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, making it the eighth most spoken language in the world. Russian was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Today, it is one of the six official languages of the United Nations (UN) and the second most widespread language on the internet after English.
Russian is a language descended from the language used by the Kievan Rus, an East Slavic tribe from the 9th to the 13th century. It is closely related to three other East Slavic languages — Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn. The earliest known writing system in Russia dates back to the 10th century in Novgorod when the old Cyrillic alphabets used were known to be Old Church Slavonic. The Cyrillic script is a writing system still widely used as alphabets across Eurasia and especially in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Developed during the 9th century, it was heavily influenced by the early Orthodox Christianity, which was believed to have originated and evolved from the two Byzantine brothers named Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. Russian manuscripts began to appear more frequently when Tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725) introduced a set of revised Cyrillic alphabets and encouraged authors to adopt a more literary style closer to their spoken language.
Russian Alphabets and Pronunciation
One prominent feature of the Russian language is that every consonant has a hard or a soft counterpart. Stresses are unpredictable in the language and they are not usually highlighted orthographically within the sentences. In addition, there are also the reduction of unstressed vowels, which probably made Russian slightly more difficult to master. The following table shows the various alphabets, consonants, and vowels together with their pronunciation, as well as obsolete letters which were no longer in used.
Russian has altogether six grammatical cases — Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, Instrumental, and Prepositional. In Russian, the relationship between the nouns are indicated by the endings of the nouns regardless of word order. This indication is also known as inflections. These inflections indicate the function of the nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives, or even whether the nouns are singular or plural.
Russian Gender in Nouns and Adjectives
Russian nouns are either masculine, feminine, or neuter in gender. The good news is that it is far easier to distinguish the gender of the nouns a shown in the table below. This is unlike other languages such as French or German when one is required to memorize the gender of a list of words. Genders in the Russian language may seem easier, but there are also exceptions nonetheless.
Russian Verbs and Tenses
Russian verbs have three tenses — Present, Past, and Future. Nonetheless, every verb in Russian has imperfective and perfective aspects to it. This will take a while for beginners to get used to this grammar structure and comprehend the way they are used in Russian sentences. Russian verb conjugations are extremely important for beginners to grasp in order to move on to a higher level of language proficiency. The following table are examples of the tenses and verb conjugations used in the Russian language.