Send an article  |  Print   |  ../file-system/small/pdf   |   RSS   |  


Russian is a Slavic language spoken primarily in RUSSIA,  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan is one of the official language of United Nations. Russian is an Indo-European language and is part of the East Slavic family of languages, which includes Belarusian and Ukrainian. 


Table of Contents



The Russian writing system did not appear until the 17th Century. Up until that point, the written language in Russia was Old Church Slavonic, a liturgical language. With the introduction of a revised Russian alphabet by Peter the Great (1672-1725), as well as his championing of a literary style nearer to the vernacular, written Russian began to be much more common and then flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries.


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, early "Russian punctuation was based on Greek practice, since the Cyrillic alphabet is derived from the Greek; and by the 17th century several quite elaborate systems had evolved in different areas." However, starting in the 18th Century, the Russian writing system moved more toward punctuation conventions similar to those found in German (specifically, the use of commas to offset subordinate and coordinate clauses, and spacing of letters in different ways to show emphasis)


Kievan period and feudal breakup

The Moscow period (15th–17th centuries)

Empire (18th–19th centuries)

Soviet period and beyond (20th century)


Official status

Russian is the official language of Russia. It is also a co-official language of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and a co-official language of the unrecognized country of Transnistriaand partially recognized countriesof South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Ukraine the Russian language lacks the status of a state language, but still enjoys an extensive protection as a regional and minority language with some official functions.



Russian is a Slavic language, in the Indo-European family. Its closest relatives are Ukrainian and Belarusian, the other two national languages in the East Slavic group.


The principles of word-formation, literary style, and, to some extent, inflexions and basic vocabulary, of Russian have been influenced by Church Slavonic, a developed and partly adopted form of the South Slavic Old Church Slavonic language used by the Russian Orthodox Church.


The vocabulary and literary style of Russian has been greatly influenced by Greek, Latin, French, German, and English.


Rate Of Usage

94%  of the school students of Russia, 75% in Belarus, 41% in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, 20% in Ukraine,23% in Kyrgyzstan, 21% in Moldova, 7% in Azerbaijan, 5% in Georgia and 2% in Armenia and Tajikistan receive their education only or mostly in Russian.



Russian dialects are divided into the Northern group (stretching from St. Petersburg eastward across Siberia), the Southern group (in most of central and southern Russia), and the Central group (between Northern and Southern). Modern literary Russian is based on the Central dialect of Moscow, having basically the consonant system of the Northern dialect and the vowel system of the Southern dialect. The differences between these three dialects are fewer than between the dialects of most other European languages, however.


Regulatory body

Russian language institution at the Russian Academy of Sciences.


Number of speakers

It has around 167 million mother tongue speakers and an additional 100 million second language speakers spread across Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union, as well as the former Warsaw pact nations and other states that fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.



Belarusian language: Slavic language family tree



Correct us and Correct yourself
Top of page