According to The Voice of Russia, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev recently declared a new holiday: June 6th, Russian Language Day. The intention of the holiday is to:
“preserve, support and develop the Russian language as the Russian people’s national heritage, a means of international communication and an inalienable part of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the world civilization.”
Why June 6th? That’s the birthday of Alexander Pushkin, generally considered to be Russia’s greatest poet and playwright. According to Wikipedia, most of the English-speaking world knows Pushkin’s name but not his work, simply because the language he used contains layers of meaning that don’t translate well. For example, when Vladimir Nabokov attempted to translate Pushkin’s short 100-page novel “Eugene Onegin” into English, he ended up with a dense, two-volume tome.
To celebrate the occasion, Medvedev spent the day at the Alexander Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, according to Isria.com. In a speech, he stressed the importance of preserving the language, telling the audience:
“We need to look after our cherished Russian language, and not just on special dates of course, but all the time. The president can announce a symbolic event such as this, but looking after our language is something we all need to do every day, after all, every person living in our country uses the Russian language.”
At K International, we’d like to do our part to help celebrate Russian Language Day. So, here’s a brief round-up of some of the most useful Russian language resources on the web:
Omniglot’s Russian Language Page: Is a trip to Russia in your future? Stop here to learn how to read and pronounce some essential Russian phrases. Audio recordings are included.
RussianLessons.net : This site gives you a more in-depth view of the language, with lessons covering the Russian alphabet, vocabulary and grammar.
The BBC Guide to Russian : The BBC’s guide to Russian features cool facts about the language, useful phrases and even a Russian “soap opera.”
What’s Gained in Translation : This old essay from the New York Times takes excerpts from Eugene Onegin as translated by four different translators and compares them. It’s an interesting read and good way to get a feel for Pushkin’s work.