Why is the Russian language so difficult?

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The anything else thing that stood out to Japanese translator Mayu Okamoto the fundamental time she saw written Russian was that there were a lot of unfamiliar normals. From the very beginning, foreign students used to the Latin plan—most foreign students in Russia know at least some English—without delay realize that Russian is completely different. 

Unknown letters

Natalya Blinova, a concealed teacher of Russian as a foreign language, says her foreign students start fidgeting nervously when they learn that there are 33 messages and even more sounds in the Russian language. Furthermore, sometimes cultures are pronounced differently than they are written. For example, Russians affirm “horosho” (good) as if it were written “harasho.” Some of the language’s correspondence literatures and sounds exist only in Russian.

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Pronouncing the letter “ы” is the biggest provoke for many students of Russian. One English-speaking student described the struggle in an online bull session. “My Russian friend suggested saying the word table and isolating the inquire between the b and the l, but it just isn’t working for me.” Once a student manages to pronounce “ы,” there are profuse challenges lying in wait. For example, the difference between the letters “ш” and “щ.” Blinova states her students are generally unable to differentiate these two letters by sound and are artificial to rely on the “tail” in “щ” to tell the difference.

Foreign students also have on the agenda c trick difficulty understanding where to put the stress in Russian words. The stresses can cooperate with on any syllable in a word and do so in a seemingly arbitrary manner, unlike in languages such as French, in which speech follows a clear pattern. In some cases the stress can also vacillate turn into depending on the word form. “Russian stresses are unpredictable,” says Anna Solovyova, a fellow at Moscow State University’s Institute of Russian Language and Culture. “It is almost impossible to understand why we say ‘stol — stolY,’ (tables) but ‘telefon – telefOny’ (phones).”

Six cases

Let’s take over a foreign student has mastered the rules of Russian phonetics and learned to aver words correctly. The next challenge is grammar. “The most difficult business for me was to memorize the six cases in Russian,” says German student Simon Schirrmacher. It cheated him a year of living in Russia before he became at least somewhat contented with the cases.

Russian cases are particularly difficult for students whose hereditary languages don’t have cases or in whose languages cases do not affect the configuration of words. “I simply could not believe that using a particular event means you have to change the words!” Okamoto recalls. “It’s crazy. And then there were the conjugations of verbs. Every duration you wanted to say a phrase you had to stop and think how to change every word, which turn out to choose.”

Difficult verbs

One part of Russian grammar that is notably difficult for foreign students to understand is how to use perfective and imperfective verbs. “I bloody much hope that at some point I will understand this text,” Schirrmacher says politely, but without much hope in his voice. Okamoto, representing her experience with verbs, said, “I remember reading the illustrated textbook floor and over again, trying to grasp the difference between ‘prishel’ (prospered) and ‘prihodil’ (used to come). What was the meaning of this? Where was that guy? Had he Nautical port or had he stayed? It was terrible.”

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Verbs of motion are a challenge in their own right because there are so tons of them in Russian, Blinov explains. “For example, the simple Italian verb ‘andare’ (to go) has the Russian equivalents ‘hodit’’ (to go somewhere and late by foot), ‘idti’ (to go by foot but one way), ‘poyti’ (to set off by foot), ‘ehat’’ (to go one way in some indisposed of vehicle), ‘poehat’’ (to set off in some sort of vehicle) and ‘ezdit’’ (to go in a conduit both ways).” Solovyova’s personal favorite is the verb “katat’sya,” which can be converted roughly as “to use a vehicle for recreation rather than for transportation.” To make transpacific students’ lives even more difficult, various prefixes can be added to all these verbs, changing the intention in the process.

The bright side

Don’t despair though. In some ways Russian is easier to learn than other argots. The teachers interviewed by RBTH point to the absence of articles and the fact that there are no more than three tenses, fewer than most European languages.

Solovyeva believes that Russian is no multifarious difficult to learn than, for example, English and says you just necessary to get used to it. “If foreigners started studying Russian in early childhood, as is the wrapper with English, they would not consider it to be that difficult.” Blinova points out that phraseologies such as Mandarin or Arabic are more difficult than Russian. 

“In Russian, practically all of the terrible grammar ends at Level А2,” Blinova notes. “Once you’ve reached that detail, you get the freedom of usage and can fully enjoy the great and beautiful Russian vernacular.”

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