• Russian Language History

The language of astronauts

YES! Astronauts worldwide are now required to learn Russian to aid in their understanding of space technology, especially at the International Space Station.

Russian is the eighth most commonly spoken language globally according to the world’s league table of languages. It is an Eastern Slavonic language, closely related to Ukrainian and Belarusian, with about 277 million speakers mainly in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. It is also spoken in other countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria. It is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, and the largest native language in Europe. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

While Russian is the official language of only four countries, it is still commonly understood and spoken in most parts of Central Asia. With over 160 million speakers, Russian is primarily a phonetic language and is characterised by a flexible ordering of words in sentences.

The 19th and 20th centuries were great times for the Russian language and contributed significantly to its exhaustive collection of literature and classical work. The works of authors like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Nabokov have gained immense popularity across the globe, making Russian language services sought after more often than ever before.

Origins & Roots of the Russian Language

The Slavs are often credited for the birth of the Eastern Slavonic languages, including Russian and Belarusian. One interesting fact about the Slavonic language groups – namely the Western, Southern and Eastern Slavonic groups – is that the same grammatical structure was used for these languages, which means that they could do with just one common written language. This written language was known as Old Church Slavonic and was most commonly used for religious texts to ensure that they were understood by a multitude of people without any problems.

The task of translating the scriptures into Old Church Slavonic was assigned to two missionaries, Constantine, also known as Saint Cyril, and Methodius. Saint Cyril invented the alphabet that they would use to write the scriptures – an alphabet that was largely inspired and influenced by the Greek language. The assignment of this task to these missionaries was essentially what gave birth to the Cyrillic alphabet.

The earliest known writing in Russia dates from the 10th century and was found at Novgorod. The main languages written on them in an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet were Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic. Russian started appearing in writing regularly during the reign of Peter the Great (1672-1725) who introduced a revised alphabet and encouraged authors to use a literary style closer to their spoken language. During the Soviet era, knowledge of the Russian language was widespread although the subjects the authors could write about were restricted.

The modern form of the language, however, was developed after the Communist Revolution in 1917. Archaic letters were removed from the alphabet during this modernisation of the language leaving us with the Russian language as we know it today. The modern Russian alphabet is a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet and contains 33 letters.

Russian Translation Services

Interested in getting your texts and content translated to Russian? Or are you a Russkiy (русский)-speaking organisation that would like to appeal to a more diverse global audience by translating your materials to a foreign language?

At Renaissance Translations, we have a team of professional Russian linguists who can translate your content to and from over 100 languages. Whether you’re looking for proofreading services or quality translations, our skilled experts can help you get the job done in no time. Contact us to discuss your specific project needs.