RUSSIAN

views updated

RUSSIAN The major language of the Slavonic branch of the INDO-EUROPEAN language family, the language of the Russian people and the state language of the former Soviet Union, written in Cyrillic script. It has c.150m native speakers, and at least another 50m inhabitants of the ex-Soviet territories, and others, use it as a second language. Although the vast majority of its speakers live in the successor States of the USSR, Russian is used internationally in economic, scientific, and military contexts, and in the UNITED NATIONS Organization, where it is one of the six official languages. A thousand years or more ago, a relatively undiversified East Slavonic dialect, generally known as Old Russian, was spoken in and around the approximate area of present-day Western European Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia. Out of it emerged the Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian languages. An early form of standard modern Russian developed in the 16c, centred on the educated speech of Moscow, and was influenced from the 17c onward by other EUROPEAN LANGUAGES, especially Dutch and French. It gained international status in the 19c because of the power of Imperial Russia and the achievements of such writers as Pushkin and Tolstoy. The Revolution of 1917, which led to the creation of the Soviet Union, associated the language closely with the maintenance and spread of Communism.

Russian in English

The impact of Russian on English has been slight in comparison with that of French or Spanish, but many of its loanwords stand out because of their exotic spellings and connotations. BORROWINGS fall into two broad categories: (1) Traditional cultural expressions: bors(c)h a soup based on beetroot, borzoi (swift) a kind of hound, czar/tsar (from Russian tsar′, from Latin caesar) emperor, king, dros(h)ky (from drozhki) an open, four-wheeled carriage, r(o)uble the unit of Russian currency, steppe (from setp′ lowland) a prairie, troika (threesome) a carriage drawn by three horses side by side, a group of three acting together, a triumvirate, vodka (diminutive of voda water) an alcoholic drink. (2) Soviet and Communist usage: gulag (acronym of Glávnoe upravlénie ispravítel′no-trudovȳkh lagereǐ Main Directorate of Corrective Labour Camps) a labour camp, especially for political prisoners, kolkhoz (from kollektívnoe khozyáǐstvo collective household) a collective farm. This group contains many expressions, including acronyms, coined in Russian from Latin and Greek: commissar (from komissár) a political officer; agitprop political agitation and propaganda (from the organization title Agitpropbyuro, from agitatsiya and propaganda), apparat party organization, Comintern/Komintern (from Kommunistícheskǐ Internatsionál) the Communist International organization (1919–43), cosmonaut (from kosmonávt ‘universe sailor’) a Soviet astronaut, intelligentisia intellectuals considered as a group or class.

English in Russian

The impact of English on Russian has been largely lexical, especially in the following areas, and has been increasing in recent years: (1) Sport and entertainment, etc.: basketbol, chempion, futbol, kemping, khobbi (hobby), khokkey, kloun, klub, match, nokaut, ralli, rekord, sport, sportsmen, sprinter, striptiz, tent, yumor. (2) Politics, management, etc.: boykot, interv′yu, lider, miting, pamflet. (3) Food and drink: bifshteks, dzhin, grog, keks, puding. (4) Transport, commerce, and travel: konteyner, motel′, tanker, tonnel′ or tunnel′, trauler, trolleybus. (5) Culture and technology: bitnik (beatnik), detektiv (meaning also detective novel), komfort, komp′yuter, lift, poni, radar, servis, toster. See INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES, SLAV(ON)IC LANGUAGES.

Russian

views updated

Rus·sian / ˈrəshən/ • adj. of or relating to Russia, its people, or their language. • n. 1. a native or national of Russia. ∎  a person of Russian descent. ∎ hist. (in general use) a national of the former Soviet Union. 2. the East Slavic language of Russia. DERIVATIVES: Rus·sian·i·za·tion / ˌrəshənəˈzāshən/ n. Rus·sian·ize / -ˌnīz/ v. Rus·sian·ness n.

Russian

views updated

Russian of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Russia.
Russian doll each of a set of brightly painted hollow wooden dolls of varying sizes, designed to fit inside each other.
Russian Orthodox Church the national Church of Russia, a branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Russian Revolution the revolution in the Russian empire in 1917, in which the tsarist regime was overthrown and replaced by Bolshevik rule under Lenin. The Russian Revolution of 1905 is the name given to a demonstration in St Petersburg of that year, which was fired on by troops. The crew of the battleship Potemkin mutinied and a soviet was formed in St Petersburg, prompting Tsar Nicholas II to make a number of short-lived concessions including the formation of an elected legislative body or Duma.
Russian roulette the practice of loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at one's own head, said to have originated among Russian officers in the early 20th century.

Russian

views updated

Russian Official language of the Russian Federation and several other republics that belonged to the former Soviet Union. It is the primary language of c.140 million people, and is a second language for millions more. It is the most important of the Slavic languages, which form a subdivision of the family of Indo-European languages. It is written in the Cyrillic alphabet.

About this article

Russian language

All Sources -
Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic