Languages of the world: 6. Russian

Languages of the world:

Russian is a Slavic language spoken primarily in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is not an official language in Moldova, Latvia, Estonia but is widely spoken in these countries.

Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages and its closest relatives are Ukrainian and Belarusian.

The standard well-known form of Russian is generally called the “Modern Russian Literary Language”. It arose in the beginning of the 18th century with the modernization reforms of the Russian state by Peter the Great.

In the 20th century, Russian was widely taught in the schools of the members of the old Warsaw Pact and in other countries that used to be satellites of the USSR. In particular, these countries include Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Albania, former East Germany and Cuba.

The language possesses five vowels, which are written with different letters depending on whether or not the preceding consonant is palatalized. The consonants typically come in plain vs. palatalized pairs, which are traditionally called hard and soft. The standard language, based on the Moscow dialect, possesses heavy stress and moderate variation in pitch. Stressed vowels are somewhat lengthened, while unstressed vowels tend to be reduced to near-close vowels or an unclear schwa. The Russian syllable structure can be quite complex with both initial and final consonant clusters of up to 4 consecutive sounds.

Russian is written using a modified version of the Cyrillic (кириллица) alphabet. It consists of 33 letters:

А
/a/
Б
/b/
В
/v/
Г
/ɡ/
Д
/d/
Е
/je/
Ё
/jo/
Ж
/ʐ/
З
/z/
И
/i/
Й
/j/
К
/k/
Л
/l/
М
/m/
Н
/n/
О
/o/
П
/p/
Р
/r/
С
/s/
Т
/t/
У
/u/
Ф
/f/
Х
/x/
Ц
/ts/
Ч
/tɕ/
Ш
/ʂ/
Щ
/ɕɕ/
Ъ
/-/
Ы
/ɨ/
Ь
/ʲ/
Э
/e/
Ю
/ju/
Я
/ja/

Russian Facts:

  • It is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages.
  • There are around 155 million native speakers in the world, being the 8th most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers.
  • There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neutral
  • There is no article.
  • Russian distinguishes between consonant phonemes with palatal secondary articulation and those without.
  • TheNovgorod Codex is considered to be the most ancient Russian book which dates back to the beginning of the 11th century.
  • Russian is classified as a level III language in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers, requiring approximately 780 hours of immersion instruction to achieve intermediate fluency.

False Friends:

  • In Russian language, the word магазин (magazin) does refer to a shop and not to a magazine, which is said журнал(zhurnal).
  • If you overhear the word  kабинет (kabinet) you need to know that they are referring to an office.
  • There are more words similar to English like лук(Luk) that sounds similar to the name Luke, but the meaning is actually onion.
  • Декорация, sounds like decoration but it is a setting, while to say decoration you need to use the word украшение.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find Russian courses in our “Centro de Lenguas

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Languages of the world: 4. Italian

Languages of the world:

Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe (Italy, Switzerland and San Marino) and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia. It derives from Latin and it is part of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family. Italian is related most closely to the other two Italo-Dalmatian languages, Sicilian and the extinct Dalmatian.

Italian has got around 80 million speakers, mainly in Italy with 65 million native speakers, but also in Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, some regions of Slovenia and Croatia and large Communities in Argentina and Brazil.

The Italian language adopted by the state after the unification of Italy is based on the Tuscan (a language spoken mainly by the upper class of Florentine society.  Italy has always had a distinctive dialect for each city, since the cities, until recently, were thought of as city-states.

Throughout the world, Italian is the fifth most taught foreign language, after English, French, German, and Spanish.

Facts:

  • Florentine dialect evolved into the so-called “Standard Italian” that is recognized today as the national language.
  • Italian vocabulary has contributed many words to the English some of them are: gondola, regatta, fresco, vendetta, broccoli, pizza, spaghetti, cappuccino, fiasco, orchestra, piano, solo, a cappella, volcano, basilica, stucco, terracotta, and inferno.
  • All words end in a vowel in Italian, with the exception of a few articles, prepositions, and foreign words.
  • Italian language is completely phonetic, every letter corresponds to a specific pronounced sound, so we can say that it is read as it is written.
  • Learning Italian will help with the grammar of other Romance languages, such as French, Spanish or Portuguese.
  • There are different ways of saying “you”, these are: “tu” for people you know well and friends and the word “Lei” in other cases. The plural is, respectively, “voi” and “Loro”.

Some false friends in Italian are:

  • The word camera in Italian means room whilst camera is macchina fotografica.
  • Morbido is used in Italian to say that something is soft.
  • Don’t look surprised if you receive coated almonds when asking for confetti.
  • If you like something the correct word to use is mi piace (I like) and if you say mi piaci you are saying “I like you”.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find Italian courses in our “centro de lenguas”.

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