Russian Language Day

May 26th, 2021

June 6th is an annual celebration of the seventh most spoken language in the world: Russian. In addition to this, Aleksandr Pushkin, a poet who is considered the father of modern Russian literature, is also honored on this day. Russian Language Day was founded in 2010 by UNESCO as part of a goal to celebrate multilingualism and to promote the use of the UN’s six official languages, which Russian is a part of. June 6th was chosen as a commemoration of Aleksandr Pushkin. Russian is the most spoken language in Europe with over 150 million native speakers. In addition to this, there are about 113 million non-native Russian speakers bringing up the total to 267 million people around the world who speak Russian. Russian is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, while also being the primary language in the former Soviet countries such as Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, etc. Below you can find some interesting facts about the Russian language:
 
  • There are 33 letters in the Russian alphabet 10 being vowels, 21 being consonants, and 2 letters that have no sound. These two that have no sound are the soft sign, Ь, and the hard sign, Ъ.
  • Russian is called an “International Language of Space” and astronauts need to learn it on the international space station. 
  • Written Russian uses the Cyrillic script.
  • About 10% of Russian words bear resemblance to English ones. An example includes the word проблема (pronounced “problema”) which means “problem”.
  • The stress patterns of Russian words can radically change their meaning. For instance, the word “я плачу” places stress on the second syllable and means “I am paying“, whereas the word “я плáчу” stresses the first syllable and means “I am crying”.
  • The word Спасибо, which means thank you in Russian, was originally спаси Бог which means God save. The meaning behind it was that the person who was thanking someone was asking God’s blessing for that other person. 
  • Very few Russian words start with the letter “a”. Most words that do start with the letter are borrowed from other languages. 
  • In the Russian culture and language, their “middle names” known as отчество differ by gender. For the females, it is the father’s name plus the ending “ovna” and for the males, it is the father’s name plus the ending “ovich”. To show this on an example, if the father’s name is Victor the son’s middle name would be Victorovich and the daughter’s would be Victorovna. 
  • The Russian language is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. 
  • The longest most common word in Russian has fourteen letters, and it is the word соответственно meaning accordingly. 

 

You can celebrate Russian Language Day by:

  • Familiarizing yourself with famous works by Aleksandr Pushkin including Eugene Onegin, Dubrovsky, The Captain’s Daughter, and The Queen of Spades.
  • Exploring other well-known Russian authors, such as Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Ivan Turgenev.
  • Trying to learn the Russian language, or at least some popular Russian phrases.
  • Listening to some songs in Russian such as Millions of Scarlet Roses by Alla Pugacheva, Katyusha by Georgi Vinogradov, Ja Ne Mogu Inache by Valentina Tolkunova, Fantazer by Yaroslav Evdokimov and I Would Die for You by Philipp Kirkorov. 
  • Watching some Russian movies like The Diamond Arm, Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears, Stalingrad, or Devchata. 
  • Watching some Russian cartoons like Cheburashka, Nu Pogodi, Masha and the Bear, Troe iz Prostokvashino, or Vinni Pukh. 
  • Eating traditional Russian foods like borscht, pelmeni, pirozhki, blini, okroshka, or holodets. Or you can head to your nearby Slavic store such as Matreshka, Yummy Snamy European Food & Deli, or Magnolia Euro Food & Deli and simply buy pastries, candies, vegetable spreads, canned goods, and many other Russian food items. 
  • Learning about Russian customs, traditions, and culture.
  • Spreading awareness for this day by sharing #RussianLanguageDay on social media.