Most records used in Russian research are written in Russian. You need not be fluent in Russian, but you will need some knowledge of Russian to understand Russian records. Reading Russian script in archived records can be very difficult since the old Russian script is unlike the modern Russian and script is always difficult to decipher.
Russian (русский язык (help·info), tr.: russkiy yazyk, [ˈru.skʲɪj jɪˈzɨk]) is the most widely spoken language of Eurasia and the most widespread of the Slavonic languages.
Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages. Within the Slavic branch, Russian is one of three living members of the East Slavic group, the other two being Belarusian and Ukrainian.
Written examples of East Slavonic are attested from the 10th century onwards. While Russian preserves much of East Slavonic synthetic-inflectional structure and a Common Slavonic word base, modern Russian exhibits a large stock of borrowed international vocabulary for politics, science, and technology. A language of great political importance in the 20th century, Russian is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
Of Russia's estimated 150million population, it is thought that over 81% speak the official language of Russian as their first and only language. Most speakers of a minority language are also bilingual speakers of Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today, the most popular of which is Tartar, spoken by more than 3% of the country's population.
Other minority languages include Ukrainian, Chuvash, Bashir, Mordvin and Chechen. Although few of these populations make up even 1% of the Russian population, these languages are prominent in key regional areas.
Although Russian is the only federally official language of the Russian Federation, there are several other officially-recognized languages within Russia's various constituencies. This is a list of languages that are official only in certain parts of Russia.
1. Abaza (in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic)
2. Adyghe (in the Republic of Adygea)
3. Altay (in the Altai Republic)
4. Bashkir (in the Republic of Bashkortostan)
5. Buryat (in Agin-Buryat Autonomous 6. Okrug, Buryat Republic, and Ust- Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug)
7. Chechen (in the Chechen Republic)
8. Chukchi (in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug)
9. Chuvash (in the Chuvash Republic)
10. Dolgan (in Taymyr Autonomous Okrug)
11. Erzya (in the Republic of Mordovia)
12. Evenk (in Evenk Autonomous Okrug)
13. Ingush (in the Republic of Ingushetia)
14. Kabardian (in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic and Karachay-Cherkess Republic)
15. Kalmyk (in the Republic of Kalmykia)
16. Karachay-Balkar (in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic and Karachay-Cherkess Republic)
17. Khakas (in the Republic of Khakassia)
18. Khanty (in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug)
19. Komi-Zyrian (in the Komi Republic)
20. Koryak (in Koryak Autonomous Okrug)
21. Mansi (in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug)
22. Mari (in the Mari El Republic)
23. Moksha (in the Republic of Mordovia)
24. Nenets (in Nenets Autonomous Okrug)
25. Nogai (in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic)
26. Ossetic (in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania)
27. Tatar (in the Republic of Tatarstan)
28. Tuvin (in the Tuva Republic)
29. Udmurt (in the Udmurt Republic)
30. Yakut (in the Sakha Republic)
31. Yiddish (in Jewish Autonomous Oblast)
The Russian alphabet consists of 33 Cyrillic letters (21 consonants, 10 vowels, and two letters without sound). For more information see the "Handwriting" section.
- See the tutorials at the FamilySearch Learning Center for"Reading Russian Handwritten Records"
Russian Word Lists for Genealogical Researchers