U.N Russian Language Day

Today, June 6th has been chosen by the United Nations to be ‘Russian Language Day’, on the day of the Father of Russian Literature, Alexander Pushkin’s birthday.

Russian is not only one of the six official languages of the United Nations, but also the first language of more than 160 million people mainly located in Europe. There are also big Russian communities in Asia and North America. It is the most popular native language in Europe and the official language of Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan but also the lingua franca in most former Soviet countries.

Even though it is one of the big world languages, Russian does not place well amongst the most studied foreign languages. After the Cold War Americans stopped seeing any benefit in learning the Soviet language and the same can be said of the former Soviet countries. In addition, the lack of any funding from the government to promote the language does not help to change the situation.

But this is probably also because learning the language of Tolstoy might seem dreadful. If the Cyrillic alphabet frightens you, it is nothing compared to the pronunciation and the six cases that Russian learners have to deal with. The good news is that, once you speak Russian, Slavic languages (Polish, Czech, Croatian etc.) will be much easier to learn!

Over the past few years, Russia has been opening itself up to the world! In 2014, Russia hosted the Winter Olympics, and in a matter of days, the worlds media will be back in Russia for the World Cup. So, its never been a better time to start learning a few phrases!

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If the fact that more than 250 million people speak Russian between L1 and L2 is not enough, you should know that it is considered to be the international language of space. In fact, since 2011 NASA has been requiring that astronauts speak Russian fluently in order to attend their training. So, if you are thinking of a career in Outer Space you’d better pick up your Russian textbook and Удачи! (Good luck!)