Russian Language Day celebrates multilingualism and cultural diversity
It was in 2010 that Unesco decided to mark June 6 of each year as Russian Language Day. It was launched to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote the equal use of the six official working languages ââof the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
There are expats from Russian speaking countries living in Doha in large numbers and other people have taken an interest in learning the language as well.
Gulf Times spoke to Vera Pavlova, Cultural AttachÃ© at the Russian Embassy in Doha, as the world marks the day on Sunday.
Sharing the historical perspective of the Russian language, Pavlova said that she is part of the East Slavic group (along with Belarusian and Ukrainian) which in turn is part of the Indo-European language family. âUntil the 13th-14th centuries, Eastern Slavs spoke Old East Slavic, from which the three distinct languages ââdeveloped over a long period. “
She added: âAlthough Russia is a vast country, there are only three groups of Russian dialects – northern, southern and central – that stand out linguistically. The central dialect is strongly influenced by the other two. However, there is not much difference between them, comparing for example with Arabic. The literary standard is Central Russian or the “Moscow” dialect. The Russian alphabet (Azbuka) is based on the Cyrillic script and has 33 letters.
Emphasizing the importance of the language at the international level, Pavlova said: âRussian is the language of our world-renowned international literature, science and communication. It also unites all the peoples of our great multinational and multilingual country.
Asked about the significance of Russian Language Day, the cultural attachÃ© said: âThe day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 2010. The The UN now organizes this celebration every year as part of the program to support and develop multilingualism and cultural variety.
She added: âJune 6 is an important date for the Russian people. On June 6, 1799, the great Russian poet and writer Alexander Pushkin was born. Pushkin is known as the father of modern Russian literature and literary language.
Russian is the seventh most spoken language in the world. It covers the greatest geographic scope of all Eurasian languages. Not only
170 million native Russians speak this language, there are also 130 million people from former republics of the Soviet Union who also speak Russian. It is widely spoken as a lingua franca in many countries around the world. Russian is the second most popular language on the Internet. The ‘RuNet’ – the Russian-speaking community on the Internet – has more than 100 million people.
âRussian is the language of space. Since the launch of the International Space Station (ISS) over 20 years ago, knowledge of Russian has been essential for any astronaut, cosmonaut or space tourist. All crews are now delivered to the station by a Russian ship. Since the end of the space shuttle program, Soyuz has been the only spacecraft used to transport astronauts to orbit where half of the components and systems on board are in Russian.
When asked if the language is developing internationally and more and more people are learning Russian, the embassy official said: âWe are noticing a growing and constant interest in the Russian language in the world and a growing number of people seeking to study it. We are also happy to see this dynamic here in Qatar. More and more foreign students come to study in Russia and also learn the language. Today, more than 18,000 students from Arab countries study Russian at universities in our country.
Regarding the presence of the language in Qatar, she said: âAbout 2,000 Russians and around 7,000 Russian speakers are in Qatar. Our compatriots have their own council in Doha and they have founded the Russian school âRosinkaâ which offers Russian lessons and has a language club.
âThere are Russian language courses and programs offered at major universities in Doha, including Qatar University and HBKU. We are also currently working on the opening of a Russian cultural center in Doha which will be able to offer opportunities to study Russian and learn more about our multicultural and multi-faith country.