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Перевести на русский Перевести на русский Print this article Print this article

Russian Speakers of the World, Unite!

By Michele A. Berdy

Published: June 28, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



Photo: Sailko / Wikimedia Commons

Русский мир: Russian world, broadly and vaguely defined

As someone deeply concerned with the protection of human rights — mine in particular — I have of course been very interested in the whole notion of русскоязычный человек (a Russian-speaking person) and Russia's eagerness to take such a person — possibly me — under her governmental wing.

So I started reading up on ways of being a Russian speaker and citizen. As usual, it's all a bit more complicated than I thought. Dictionaries are not in agreement about some terms, and people, those русскоязычники (Russian speakers, slangily), have their own definitions too. Here's what I have learned so far:

Гражданин/гражданка России: Citizen of Russia. If you are born in Russia, it does not matter what your native language or ethnicity is.

Россиянин/россиянка: Russian citizen. Like the word российский, this means a person who is a citizen of Russia regardless of ethnicity or language.

Русский/русская: Ethnic Russian. May or may not be a citizen of Russia.

Человек, чей родной язык — русский: A person whose native language is Russian. Seems to be the highest grade Russian speaker, cited wittily by Joseph Brodsky in his Nobel Prize speech: Хотя для человека, чей родной язык — русский, разговоры о политическом зле столь же естественны, как пищеварение, я хотел бы теперь переменить тему. (Although discussions about political evil are as natural as digestion for someone whose native language is Russian, I'd like to change the topic.) Родной язык (native language) is a person's primary functional language and not the language of one's ethnicity.

Носитель языка, a language speaker who is not necessarily native. For fast-track citizenship in Russia, носителем языка признается человек, который владеет русским языком и повседневно использует его дома и в культурной сфере (a language speaker is someone who speaks Russian and uses it at home and in the cultural sphere every day).

That's me! I definitely speak Russian, at home the pooch and I converse exclusively in Russian — Где мячик? Поищи! (Where's your ball? Go look for it!) — and even though I'm a little shaky on what культурная сфера is, watching television and translating must count, right?

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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