Russian translation services


Indo-European > Slavic



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145 million

Other names

Official language

Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan

Also spoken

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Interesting Fact

Vodka is such an integral part of Russian culture that its name is even derived from the Russian word вода (voda), which means "water".


Russian is the largest native language in Europe and is in the Slavic branch of the Indo-European group. It is a major language as it is spoken by 144 million people, spread across vast distances.  It is also one of the 6 official languages of the UN. It is spoken as a native language in Russia and most ex-soviet states, and there are sizeable communities of Russian speakers in the US, Germany and Israel.

It uses 33 letters and is written in the Cyrillic script.

Language Length
Around 15% longer than English.

Regional Differences
Unusually for a language that is spread over such a huge area, Russian is relatively uniform in spelling and vocabulary. Some regional differences do exist but not to the same extent as in other languages. Russian-speaking groups in different countries do, however, normally require texts to be adapted to their specific locale.

Notable Grammar and Spelling Differences
Exclamation marks:  When writing a letter, an exclamation mark often follows the introduction (e.g. Dear Michael!) where in English we would have a comma.

Italics:  Whilst uppercase and lowercase Cyrillic letters are often straightforward (with one simply being a larger version of the other), Italics can be very confusing if you have only a partial knowledge of the language and are not accustomed to Cyrillic, as some letters are changed quite dramatically when italicised.

Quotation marks:  Usually chevron style <<>> for indirect speech and the long em-dash for direct speech.

Numbers:  The comma is used where English would use the decimal point and vice versa, e.g. 5.5 (English) = 5,5 (Russian), but 5,000 (English) is 5.000 (Russian).

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