All About The Russian Language

By OptiLingo

So you’ve decided to learn how to speak Russian. That’s awesome! Maybe you’ve already begun to learn the alphabet or try to develop your learning strategy… if not, you can check out my other posts here that deal with how to learn Russian and the best way to learn the Russian alphabet.

In this post, I’m going to cover a bit about the Russian language. This is more “edutainment” than anything else.

Russian is a Slavic language, spoken by over 250 million speakers around the world. Of these, around 145 million are native speakers, and the balance are people who learned the language as a second tongue, or the children of native speakers.

When most people think of the Russian language, they think of Russia. That’s completely natural. But did you know that Russian is spoken as a major language in thirteen countries? These include:


  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Byelorussia
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Moldova
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Ukraine


But let’s back up for a minute. What did I mean when I said that Russian was a Slavic language? Well, in simplest of terms, that means it belongs to a family of languages spoken by Slavic people.

Slavic people find their roots in Central and Eastern Europe, though not all people from those regions are Slavic. For example, the following nations are based in Central and Eastern Europe, but are not Slavic: Albania, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Modern-day Slavic people, by contrast, fall into three categories:

Western Slavs: Pols, Czechs and Slovaks

Eastern Slavs: Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians

South Slavs: Serbs, Bulgarians, Croats, Bosnians, Macedonians, Slovenes and Montenegrins

So does that mean that speakers of Polish can understand speakers of the Russian language? Not really… at least no more than speakers of German, English and Spanish can understand each other. (Yes, I know that Spanish is a Romance language, while German and English are Germanic languages, but you get my point.)

Does that mean that speakers of the Russian language can understand Belarusians and Ukrainians? Actually, yes…. In much the same way that Spanish speakers from Mexico can communicate with Spanish speakers from Spain.

By the way, in case you’re really curious, Slavic languages are all part of the Indo-European language family, so it’s a distant cousin to English. This is actually why English and Russian share so many common words.

Hope that you found this post helpful. If you’re interested in more information on the Russian language, how to speak the Russian language or how to learn Russian, check out my other posts below.