Привет товарищу Privyet tovarish! (Hello comrade!) Not just for czars, revolutionaries, and tormented novelists, Russian is the most popular of the Slavic languages, with over 140 million native speakers and another 110 million for whom it is a second language. Spoken primarily in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, it is also an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
Russian Fun Facts
Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which is based on the Greek alphabet with some Hebrew letters to represent sounds alien to the Greek writing system.
The Moscow Metro is one of the most beautiful metro systems in the world. Conceived as “palaces for the people,” with chandeliers, grand arches, exquisite tiling, and designs ranging from the baroque to futuristic, it’s worth lingering there on the way to where to you’re going.
Russia has a very rich literary tradition, including the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, the plays of Chekhov, and the poetry of Pushkin. But there are many other great writers. Check out Nikolai Gogol’s short stories like “The Nose,” a satirical tale of a minor St. Petersburg official whose nose leaves his face one morning and starts a more successful life on its own. In Russian, the word for “nose” (Нос, pronounced “Nos”) is the reverse of the word for “dream” (Сон, “Son”).
Russian and the Livemocha Community
- Nearly 5% of Livemocha members are learning Russian
- Almost 60% of Russians on Livemocha are learning English. The next most popular languages are Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.
- Americans are learning Russian on Livemocha more than people from any other country, but are closely followed by Turkish, Brazilian, and Chinese learners.