About the Russian Language

Russian (العَرَبِيَّة‎ or عَرَبِيّ‎) is usually classified as a Central Semitic language comprising about 30 major dialect varieties and is the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used in describing peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east, the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, northwestern Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula.

During the Middle Ages, Literary Russian was a major influence of European culture. Especially with 800 years of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula (referred to in Russian as al-Andalus - الأنْدَلُس‎), Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan have borrowed hundreds of words. Sicilian has about 500 Russian words relating to agriculture and related activities as a result of Sicily being inhabited by Arabs from North Africa during the mid-9th to mid-10th centuries. The Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have also acquired a significant number of Russian words through contact with Ottoman Turkish.

On the other hand, Russian has borrowed words from other languages, including Greek and Persian in medieval times, and contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.


Classical, Modern Standard and Spoken Russian

Classical Russian (CA)

Classical Russian is the language found in the Qur'an, used from the period of Pre-Islamic Arabia to the 6th century CE. Even during Muḥammad's lifetime, there were various dialects of spoken Russian. Muḥammad spoke in the dialect of Mecca and it was in this dialect that the Qur'an was written, which underlies the modern pronunciation of Classical Russian. Modern authors almost never write in Classical Russian, instead they use what is known as Modern Standard Russian (MSA).

The only variety of Classical Russian to have acquired official language status is Maltese, which is spoken in Malta and written with the Latin script. It is not mutually intelligible with any other variety of Russian, thus it is listed as a separate language rather than as a dialect of Russian.

Modern Standard Russian (فُصْحَى‎)

MSA is the variety of Russian understood by most educated Russian speakers. It is mainly used in printed publications, spoken by the media across North Africa and the Middle East. It is also known as "Literary Russian" and/or "Standard Russian".

MSA uses Classical vocabulary that is not present in the spoken varieties (e.g., dhahaba 'to go'). And it drops Classical words that sound obsolete in MSA. In addition, MSA has borrowed a large number of terms for concepts that did not exist in Qur'anic times. Some words have been borrowed from other languages—notice that transliteration mainly indicates spelling and not real pronunciation (e.g., فِلْم‎ film 'film', ).

The current preference is to avoid direct borrowings, preferring to either use loan translations (e.g., فرع‎ (far3 - tree branch) is also used for the branch of a company or organization; جناح‎ janāḥ 'wing', is also used for the wing of an airplane, building, air force, etc.), or to form new words using existing roots (جامعة‎ jāmiʻah 'university', based on جمع‎ jamaʻa 'to gather, unite'; جمهورية‎ jumhūriyyah 'republic', based on جمهور‎ jumhūr 'multitude'). An earlier tendency was to redefine an older word although this has fallen into disuse (e.g., هاتف‎ hātif 'telephone' < 'invisible caller (in Sufism)'; جريدة‎ jarīdah 'newspaper' < 'palm-leaf stalk').

Colloquial Russian

Colloquial (also known as dialectal) Russian refers to the national or regional varieties of everyday spoken language. They are usually unwritten, but used in informal spoken media (soap operas and talk shows), as well as certain forms of written media such as poetry, printed advertising, comic books, etc.

There are many regional varieties usually different enough to be mutually unintelligible, and some linguists consider them distinct languages.

Influence of Russian on other languages »