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Russia is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary countries in the world, with an almost matchless depth of cultural and historical riches, and landscapes that have inspired artists and poets for generations.
Those who have journeyed to Russia come back with a wonderful treasure trove of memories – the glittering spires of St Petersburg, the fabulous palaces of the Tsars, gorgeous churches, classical music and ballet… or simply the unique landscapes of the steppes and taiga, forest-steppes and even tundra.
Enjoy Russian together with us, the native speakers, and you will be ready to visit our wonderful country whether for professional, academic or personal purposes!Why study Russian?
- It is the 5th most spoken language worldwide. 277 million people speak Russian.
- Within Russia itself there are myriad opportunities for foreigners who know Russian. International law firms, businesses and consulting firms expand almost daily and they all need employees with a knowledge of the Russian language. Besides the Russians' own appetite for learning foreign languages appears to be insatiable, leading to many teaching jobs inside the country.
- The prejudice that Russian is difficult plays in your favor. Russian on your resume shows that you believe in your abilities, that you accept challenges and are not afraid to go off the beaten path.
- Did you know all astronauts aboard the International Space Station speak Russian? Among them Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk who studied Russian at University of Victoria.
- You never know when and for what reason you may need to speak Russian. Watch this video, it is quite inspiring.
- Russians are amazing personalities! Hospitality plays a significant role in the Russian mentality and the character, so once you make friends with Russian people you will surely value this amazing and unique feature of the so-called “Wide Russian soul”. Do you want to understand their thinking from the inside? Then the language and culture of the country are absolutely essential.
- In geographical extent Russia is the largest country in the world, spanning two continents and containing more than 100 nationalities.
- Russia is the only country in the world washed by 12 seas.
- Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet dating from around the ninth century. Although at first glance it appears quite different, a number of letters are written and pronounced as in English (A, K, M, O, and T). Whereas other letters are written in the Roman alphabet but are pronounced differently, i.e. «Y/y» is pronounced “oo” as in “food” and «X/x» is pronounced “ch” as in the Scottish word “loch”.
- Are you are able to pronounce «муха» meaning “a fly”! Do you know, that Russian has no words for “the”, “a” or “an” so the word «муха» can mean “the fly”, “a fly” or just “fly” because in Russian there are no articles.
- Russian grammar is not simple because Russian uses a lot of prefixes, suffixes, endings, and vowel alternations. On the other hand, thanks to its synthetic nature, Russian has a huge number of rhymes which are impossible in other languages; it has an astonishing flexibility and variety.
- In the Russian alphabet there are two characters «ъ» and «ь» which represent no sound, one of them is a unpalatalization sign and another – a palatalization one.
- Since “tovarisch” is no longer in use in Russia, there are no special words to address another person or many people. You may hear «дамы и господа» (ladies and gentlemen), but this is considered somewhat unnatural. People may use «женщина»/«мужчина» (“woman”/“man”) to address those who are about 40 and more, and «девушка»/«молодой человек» (“maiden”/ “young man”) to address those who are younger. But the borderlines here are ambiguous of course.
- The Russian language allows a fascinating way of addressing people to whom you have just been introduced. The person’s first name is combined with a modified form of his or her father’s first name. If a man’s first name is Ivan and his father’s first name is also Ivan, you would call him Ivan Ivanovich (Ivan, son of Ivan), and if Ivan had a sister, she would be called Natalya Ivanovna, (Natalya, daughter of Ivan). The -ovich and -ovna suffixes are always appended to the father’s first name and not to the mother’s.
- Word stress is also a matter of some difficulty. The stress is free-form and can be placed on any syllable. Thus, there being no set rules for stress, the accent of each word has to be learned separately.
- There are no “am/are/is” in Russian. The verb “to be” should be omitted in the present tense. However, in the past and future it should be used.
- Russian word order is flexible, but it doesn't mean that you may put words in any order you like. The meaning of the sentence may change cardinally because of the word order. I.e. «Я иду домой» means “I'm going home”, while «Я домой иду» means “It is home to which I'm going (not anywhere else)”, and «Домой иду я» means “It is I, who is going home” (not you, not anyone else. The others are staying at the office and working). So the word order in Russian depends on what exactly you want to say to others.
- To change a sentence into a general question, one doesn't have to change anything, but intonation, i.e. «Ты дома.» (You are at home.) vs «Ты дома?» (Are you at home?)
- The numbers 1 and 2 have genders while the rest numbers don't, i.e. «один мальчик» (one boy), «одна девочка» (one girl), but «три мальчика/девочки» (three boys/girls).
- The number 1 (один) has a plural form («одни» = sole).
- Verbs in the past tense have genders, while verbs in present and future tenses don't, i.e. «он играл» (he played), but «она играла» (she played), and «он играет» (he plays), «она играет» (she plays).
And for those who already have progressed in studying Russian, we offer this beautiful and patriotic poem about Russia:Чем хороша Россия?
Своей глубиною чувств:
Привыкла любить красиво,
А если гулять – до безумств.Чем хороша Россия?
Оригинальным умом –
Логична и неповторима,
Причем, абсолютно во всем.Традиции чтит и верит,
Что мир еще можно спасти.
Тепло материнства навеют
Ее купола и кресты.Расправив могучие плечи,
Укроет от разных потерь.
Она и ругает, и лечит.
Она – Мама всех матерей!
© Наталья Бараковских, 2007