Russian is one of the most popular languages spoken in the world today. With over 150 million speakers, Russian is the fourth most spoken language in the world. Most Russian speakers will greet their friends by saying ivanovye sveti! which means “I see you are [person’s name]!”
Russian is written in the Latin alphabet. Before the Revolution, the alphabet was based on Arabic, Greek, and Sanskrit alphabets. The present alphabet was devised by Catherine the Great after the dissolution of the Russian Empire. Russian nouns and adjectives begin and end in the letter “r”, for example “ozhestky” meaning “apple”.
When talking to foreigners, Russian speakers will tend to shorten words that require a pause or a clarification. Russian speakers also lengthen words that are difficult to utter. English has its own vocabulary of verbs that are very difficult to pronounce. Words like “envy” and “pig,” for example, are hard to say properly in English. Instead, the Russian speaker uses “pani” (meaning “hate”) for those verbs. However, the word is pronounced very differently in Russian.
Unlike Western European countries, in which the surname passes from father to firstborn, Russian surname ends with the last name. Many Russian families have two surnames; the mother’s name and the father’s surname. Sometimes a surname is changed due to marriages. A common myth is that the surname of an educated person goes with his/her profession. This is not the case.
Russian men usually have a feudal surname, which simply refers to his family. Russian women rarely have a feudal surname. A Russian man or woman can have as many as ten family names, depending on their wealth or status. A Russian woman may have one surname, such as Spiridonov, Spiridonovina, or Spiridinovski, or she may have many different ones, such as Spiridonovskiy, Spiridinovskii, and Spiridinova. Russian money is also divided into different salaries, such as stavrosiy ( peasants) and otvosiy ( highly paid officials).
The first person singular in a Russian surname is always the father. The father’s name comes after the name of the mother. Even if the surname is written, it will be pronounced by the family for purposes of identification. Unlike Western Europe, the surname of a Russian woman never changes. The daughter will go by her maiden name throughout her life.
Russian laws require that all Russian women follow the surname of her husband. If a married woman wants to change her surname, she must ask her husband’s permission. Otherwise, she can use any other name that the husband might approve of, such as Vera. In some places in the North of Russia, where there are many Jews, they still use the Yiddish language (in contrast to earlier periods when Russian used solely the Old Russian language). The family roots of Yiddish are therefore very deep.
Historically, a Russian family is likely to have three branches: Parents (pilats), brothers, and sisters. The parents of a Russian child often grow up in two separate communities, so that their children learn both languages (and, as they marry, learn both cultures). The children of Russian parents usually stay in the same community, so they speak both Russian and Yiddish. There is also a possibility that a child grows up in a mixed family, meaning that he/she is not necessarily Russian, but has some Russian blood. Russian migration has caused problems for many Russian families in the USA.
The most traditional Russian names are derived from the first name and last name. Common Russian names include Aleksandar, Andree, Dmitry, Denis, Egor, Natalia, Olga, Roman, Severo, Zhenya, Valentina, Tatyana, Lyudmila, Kasia, Anna, Pashka, Marina, Ekaterina, Maria, and wife-in-law Polina. Many Russian names begin with a capital letter. Some Russian names have roots in Sanskrit, e.g., Yaroslava (Yarosh), Bil’ya (Bilious), Aleksandra ( Alexandra), Anna (Ann), Razina (Razya), and Natalia (Nathaniel).
Russian surnames are often difficult to pronounce. Although most Russian families have a common surname, some still use different versions of their surname throughout the community. The surname can be either spelled or pronounced, but most people shorten it to a single name. Some Russian families also use an initial letter of each name; e.g., Aleksandar rather than Aksandar. The surname of the great Russian poet Pushkin may be based on his family’s surname, Ezhainishka.
Even if you have Russian ancestors that do not speak English, there is still hope for you to learn enough Russian to communicate with them. If you are trying to learn Russian, you should definitely look into learning Russian names and cultures. Learning Russian names will help you to express yourself more clearly, and this can have a wonderful effect on your interactions with those who do speak Russian. Many people try to avoid using their full names when speaking Russian because they feel as though this would be unkind. However, the reality is that many Russian names have meanings related to nature, culture, and language, and the name of your child should be selected with care so that the child can have a fulfilling and healthy upbringing.