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Does the knowledge of other languages help to learn Russian?
Home > Languages > Russian > FAQ > Other languages

If you already speak another slavic language, such as Polish, Ukrainian or Bulgarian, learning Russian will be much easier because of shared grammatical structures and vocabulary. But you already knew that.

Now if you speak French, German or Italian, you will find many Russian words that have been "borrowed" from one of these languages.

  • Under Alexis Mikhaïlovitch (1645-1676), many military and musical italian words were borrowed (/pistolet, /grenade, /ingénieur, /pommodoro).
  • Under Peter the Great (1682-1725), a lot of german words, often with a latin origin, were adopted. More than a quarter described administrative structures. Other came from french, especially military vocabulary (/Inspektor, /, /Straf, /Archiv, /Lager, /Masstab, /Buchhalter, /Hauptmann).
  • Under Kathrin II (1762-1796), many french words came from Versailles, often in indirect ways.
  • In the modern period, many international words came as in any other language.

I have compiled a statistic of these words and found a bit more than 10% of such loan-words.

This is a welcome suprise in sometimes dry word lists, and you will learn many words easily. Some words are derived from a language you know in a way that is not immediately clear. But as soon as you learn about their pedigree, you will never forget.

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