Ah! Russia. The Red Army Choir, the Red Square, vodka, a mysterious alphabet, and beautiful people. Those are only a few things that come to mind when I think of Russia and the Russian language. Russia certainly has spirit, although somewhat enigmatic to foreigners. But how do you enter this fascinating, exotic World and push your experience beyond these stereotypes? Through mastering the Russian language! Here are just a few reasons to learn Russian:
1. 1. Russian Is One Of The World's Most Spoken Languages
On the list of the most commonly spoken languages worldwide, Russian comes eighth. Believe it or not, it’s the most spoken language in Europe. In terms of sheer geographic entry, learning Russian can open doors for you — not only in Russia but also in Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Israel. It’s also a common second language for Eastern Europe because of Russia’s enduring political influence.
2. Russia Is The Largest Country In The World
Russia is a mind-bogglingly large nation. Fun fact: It’s currently the biggest country globally by area, and is slightly larger than the runner-up country, Canada (Russia has 6.6 million square miles, compared to Canada’s 3.8 million). In reality, it crosses 11 entire time zones. Imagine just how much there is to discover in this endless land! A few examples: Russia has a complete 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the Kremlin and Lake Baikal to Altai’s Golden Mountains — there are tremendous cultural and ecological riches in Russia.
3. Russian culture and customs: Exotic lite
You will learn a lot about Russian culture through its literature and language. What bookworm wouldn’t love to be able to read Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Pushkin in the language they wrote in? Learning Russian will help you to understand the complexities of this culture. The Russian language has many complexities missing in English. For example, when I was studying Russian, I read The Little Prince. I found that English often needed six words to describe a definition, while two or three sufficed in Russian. Although that might sound like an oversimplification, it isn’t. The sparsity of function words – posts, “helper” verbs, connectors, and some prepositions leaves more space for substantive words.
Russian music is another way society manifests itself. From traditional music to the somewhat more recent Red Army Choir and the Romantic music trend, music has played a large role in Russian identity. However, Russian culture isn’t confined to the classics! It has modernized and mixed with the global culture, all while staying true to its roots. I like Russian TV shows, Russian movies, modern Russian rock and rap music, and particularly the alternative culture currently emerging in St. Petersburg.
It is really interesting for me to see how people in my generation, who were born around the time that the Berlin Wall fell down, have grown up, and how they view the future and the past. Speaking their language allows you to understand them and their culture in a way that is difficult in English.
4. Russian has great literature
Russian was the medium for one of the World’s most remarkable pieces of literature. Alexander Pushkin forged a more flexible and up-to-date Russian style in his novels, plays and poems. Literature and politics have always been intertwined. Some students of Russia have argued that it’s the prime element in a modern sense of specifically Russian national consciousness. Poetry seems more pervasive in Russian culture than in English, and educated Russians can often recite from memory, says author Alexander Nekrassov. In each Soviet generation, some writers were persecuted, imprisoned, or exiled, most famous among them the Nobel prize winners Boris Pasternak and Joseph Brodsky, he says. During the brief political “thaw” under Khrushchev from 1953 to 1963, leading poets read their works to packed stadiums, Nekrashov says. Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s diva-in-chief, sings a Pasternack poem to a packed TV studio, says Nekrasov . Russian literature is considered by many to be the founder of modern Russian literature, says writer Nekrachov. The literary flowering known as the “Golden Age” began in the 1830s with Nikolai Gogol, running through Fyodor Dostoevsky and Lev Tolstoy, he writes. Nekrasov: The Soviets tried to control literature: only approved authors could get published.
Russian is one of the significant languages of scholarship and science. There’s a strong periodical tradition, dating back to the thick, generalist monthly journals of the pre-tsarist period. Russian is the medium for important contributions to learning in ethnography, linguistics, cultural and literary criticism. The Russians are so in love with the written word that it even spills into their visual art. There is a robust graphic design tradition of stamps, posters, magazines, and book covers. The author’s Russian friends are very active on planet Zuckerberg and “V kontakte,” the “Russian Facebook.” The author’s blog, The Writer’s Table, is published by Penguin Books
5. Russian is a world language
Russian has about 165 million native speakers around the world. When you add in the second language speakers, it rises to 7th, with about 275 million. The enormous numbers are in the other two “east Slav” countries: Belarus and Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Since the end of the cold war, many Russian speakers have moved to North America and Western Europe. You could well hear the language in Israel, the U.S., and other far-flung countries with good relations with India. Back to the front page. Russian is one of the six official languages of the UN. The IMF maintains a website in Russian. Russian has no official status at the European Union, but proximity means there will always be a Russian need.
6. Russian Is A Beautiful Language
This is admittedly a very subjective assertion, but it has a nugget of scientific truth: most people find languages with a wide variety of vowels appealing. For example, Italian has the vowels A, E, I, O, U, and distinctive diphthongs. This is one reason why Italian sounds so melodic to foreigners. Russian is the same way — even though it doesn’t get much attention for it. As a bonus, this Slavic language also has an astounding wealth of consonants, producing an exquisite musical quality. Just listen to the Red Army Choir for a rich example. I’m no singer, but I feel as if I can hold a tune when speaking Russian.
So, follow your heart. Imagine that you’re walking through the streets of St. Petersburg on a winter evening, or in the Red Square covered in snow, talking with your Russian peers in Russian about subjects that interest you. If this is a dream of yours, stop putting it off, and start learning Russian!
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