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Russian English Podcast: Listen to Conversations and Interviews

Introduction: What is Russian English and why is it important to learn?

Russian English is a term that refers to the variety of English spoken by native or fluent speakers of Russian, either in Russia or in other countries where they reside. Russian English is not a uniform or standardized variety, but rather a dynamic and diverse phenomenon that reflects the social, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of its speakers.

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Learning about Russian English is important for several reasons. First, it can help you understand the history and culture of Russia and its people, as well as their relations with other countries, especially those that use English as a lingua franca. Second, it can help you communicate more effectively and respectfully with Russian speakers, whether they are your friends, colleagues, clients, or teachers. Third, it can help you appreciate the richness and diversity of the English language, as well as its adaptability and creativity.

History of Language Contact: How did Russian and English influence each other over time?

The history of language contact between Russian and English dates back to the Middle Ages, when traders, travelers, missionaries, and diplomats from both countries established contacts and exchanges. However, the most significant period of language influence was during the 18th and 19th centuries, when Russia underwent a process of Westernization and modernization under the rule of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. During this time, many words from French, German, Italian, and English entered the Russian vocabulary, especially in the fields of science, technology, art, literature, and politics.

In the 20th century, the political and ideological conflicts between Russia (or the Soviet Union) and the Western countries (especially the United States and Britain) led to a decrease in linguistic influence and communication. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia opened up to the world again and experienced a surge in exposure to English through mass media, education, tourism, business, and pop culture. As a result, many new words from English entered the Russian language, especially in the domains of information technology, entertainment, sports, fashion, and youth culture.

Functions and Features of Russian English: What are the main domains and purposes of using English in Russia and by Russians abroad?

English has various functions and features in Russia and among Russians abroad. Depending on the context and purpose of communication, different levels of proficiency, accuracy, fluency, and style may be required or expected. Here are some of the main domains where English is used:

  • Politics: English is used as a diplomatic language between Russia and other countries or international organizations. It is also used by politicians to address foreign audiences or media outlets.

  • Business: English is used as a commercial language between Russian companies and their foreign partners or clients. It is also used by businesspeople to access global markets or opportunities.

  • Education: English is used as a medium of instruction in some universities or schools in Russia that offer international programs or degrees. It is also used by students to study abroad or access online courses or resources.

  • Scholarship: English is used as a scientific language by researchers or academics who publish their work in international journals or conferences. It is also used by scholars to collaborate with their peers or access information from other sources.

  • Mass Media: English is used as a source of information or entertainment by journalists or audiences who consume foreign news or shows. It is also used by media professionals to produce content for international markets or platforms.

  • Tourism: English is used as a travel language by tourists or travelers who visit foreign destinations or attractions . It is also used by tour operators or guides to provide services or information to foreign visitors.

  • Culture: English is used as a creative language by artists or performers who produce or consume foreign music, movies, books, or games. It is also used by cultural enthusiasts or activists to express their identity or values.

Some of the features of Russian English include:

  • Code-switching: This is the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties within a single conversation or utterance. For example, a Russian speaker may use English words or phrases to emphasize a point, add humor, show off, or appeal to a specific audience.

  • Loanwords: These are words that are borrowed from one language and incorporated into another, usually with some adaptation in pronunciation, spelling, or meaning. For example, some common loanwords from English to Russian are internet, burger, hobby, cool, and like.

  • Calques: These are words or expressions that are translated literally from one language to another, usually preserving the structure but not the meaning of the original. For example, some common calques from Russian to English are to drink tea (meaning to chat), to make a face (meaning to grimace), to hang noodles on the ears (meaning to lie), and to have a roof go (meaning to go crazy).

  • False friends: These are words that look or sound similar in two languages but have different meanings, often leading to confusion or misunderstanding. For example, some common false friends between Russian and English are magazin (meaning store, not magazine), sportivny (meaning athletic, not sporty), fartuk (meaning apron, not fart), and perevodchik (meaning translator, not pervert).

  • Accents: These are the distinctive ways of pronouncing words in a language, influenced by factors such as region, education, age, and social class. For example, some common features of the Russian accent in English are the omission of articles (a, an, the), the confusion of voiced and voiceless consonants (such as v and f), the reduction of unstressed vowels (such as in about and banana), and the insertion of extra sounds (such as in film and world).

Linguistic Differences and Similarities: What are the main challenges and advantages of learning Russian or English as a second language?

Russian and English belong to different language families: Russian is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Slavic branch, while English is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Germanic branch. This means that they have different origins, structures, vocabularies, and grammars. However, they also share some common elements, such as the use of the Latin alphabet (with some modifications in Russian), the existence of cognates (words that have a common origin or meaning), and the influence of other languages (such as French, German, Greek, and Latin).

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The main challenges of learning Russian or English as a second language include:

  • The alphabet: Although both languages use the Latin alphabet, Russian has 33 letters while English has 26. Moreover, some letters look similar but have different sounds (such as P and R) or have different names (such as B and V). Learning the alphabet is essential for reading and writing in both languages.

  • The pronunciation: Both languages have complex and irregular systems of pronunciation that often do not match the spelling. For example, Russian has hard and soft consonants that affect the sound of vowels (such as in sam, meaning self, and samyy, meaning most), while English has many silent letters (such as in knight, walk, and pneumonia). Learning the pronunciation is crucial for listening and speaking in both languages.

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