Why is the Russian language so hard to master?
Russian is a rather homogeneous language, in dialectal variation, due to the early political centralization under Moscow’s rule, compulsory education, mass migration from rural to urban areas in the 20th century, and other factors. Spoken by 258 million people, it is an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and is used widely throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and to some extent in the Baltic states. Russian is used not only on 89.8% of .ru sites but also on 88.7% of sites with the former Soviet Union domain .su. People use the Russian language on 5.9% of all websites, slightly ahead of German and far behind English (54.7%). The websites of former Soviet Union nations also use high levels of Russian: 79.0% in Ukraine, 86.9% in Belarus, 84.0% in Kazakhstan, 79.6% in Uzbekistan, 75.9% in Kyrgyzstan and 81.8% in Tajikistan. However, Russian is the sixth-most used language on the top 1,000 sites, behind English, Chinese, French, German, and Japanese.
Widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn, Russian can be pretty tricky if you have no knowledge of any other Slavic languages (e.g. Bulgarian or Czech). This is due to the fact that Russian has a multitude of grammatical norms that are quite complicated, with several exceptions. Furthermore, In the Russian language, you must also distinguish between hard and soft sounds and many students struggle with the pronunciation since the emphasis on words is mostly unexpected and not expressed in writing, and there are numerous homonyms.
Let us go through the reasons why Russian is regarded as a difficult language to learn in-depth:
- Pronunciation – Russian alphabets can end up frustrating a learner because they are made up of, letters that look like Latin alphabets with the same sounds, characters with recognisable forms but unfamiliar sounds, and then letters with no English equivalent at all. In simpler terms, the first challenge for a prospective Russian speaker is to learn to distinguish between these characters and not confuse them with their Latin alphabet equivalents. Russian is (for the most part) a phonetic language, and reading is pretty straightforward after you figure out the sounds of the letters. Listening to native speakers and copying them is the best way to improve your reading and speaking skills.
- Verbs– It is worth comparing English to Russian to give an idea of what I wish to convey. English is a pretty straightforward language with a regular infinitive, and an unmodified form of a verb that corresponds “to the verb”. Verb conjugation in English is simple; we say “I run,” “we run,” “they run,” but also “he runs.” However, verbs in Russian, get modified towards the end to fit one of six alternative pronouns. The Russian system is more intricate and detailed, but it follows the same fundamental principle: the ending of a verb always changes to “fit” the verb’s subject.
- Cyrillic Alphabet – If you previously learnt a language with known alphabets, then you are going to thank your lucky stars you weren’t learning Russian. Talk about a language where not only the verbs, conjugation, pronunciations are tricky but some of the letters themselves are alien to your knowledge. The Cyrillic alphabet is a Slavic language alphabet. Many students tend to get nervous when this specific section is brought up. The Cyrillic alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script, which is based on the Greek uncial character and is supplemented by letters from the ancient Glagolitic alphabet, including several ligatures.
- Cases – Cases are undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of the Russian language. The Russian case system modifies the end of a word depending on its role in the context and its relation to other words in a sentence. With that said, it is far more intricate and complex. For all intents and purposes, the usage of cases renders word order almost meaningless in Russian grammar. The tough aspect is combining instances based on gender. Russian, operates with six cases, each of which is used with a different preposition or in a different grammatical situation. Further, each gender (masculine, feminine, and plural) has its own set of six case-specific word ends.
The de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 26 December 1991, Russian is the seventh-most spoken language in the world by a number of native speakers and the eighth-most spoken language in the world by a total number of speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the second-most widespread language on the Internet, after English. It is used in an official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states. Russian is also the second-most widespread language on the Internet, after English.
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