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Russian Dialect. or Accent vs Russian Official Language

Like Italian, Chinese, or the closer one in Indonesia, they almost never use official language like that in their daily life especially when they talk to their families or someone they know, instead they use their own dialect from their origin or even accent. If they insist to use the official language in their daily life, they will be considered as weird, ridiculous and even something insulted one to the addressee.


Based on that circumstances, do all Russian from different places have their own dialect or different accent whenever they talk to their relatives, families, friends, or someone they know in their daily life?

If so, could you give me the examples of that differences and the reason for using that if possible?


Spasibo )



Wherever I went in Russia, I could understand everyone without having any difficulty. Agreed, there are dialectisms, but the amount of them is very, very low where Russian is the main language (majority of the territory of the country).

And that fact has an explanation - for a long time schoolchildren have had to learn Classic Russian literature. So, in fact, for the past 200 years all the Russians have used the language of Pushkin's epoch.

Unfortunately, nowadays this subject loses its ground in educational system, so the language can change itself dramatically even in just 20 years time.

Though we have some pronounciation differences, as KM mentioned, they are very subtle, so the Russian language is almost the same all over Russia and perfectly understandable. But there are areas where they speak a local language, while Russian being the formal language. The languages which occur to me right now are Tatar, Chechen, but there are a lot more. When I was in Tatarstan, I saw that in the villages they would mostly speak the local langauge, though they can speak Russian well, so you can make yourself understood anyway. In the towns and cities, there are local channels in Tatar, and people speak Tatar at home,but in the streets, at school, shops, work and so on, they speak Russian most of the time.

Ksenia, those who speak Tatar, Chechen or other languages are not Russians, if we speak not about their citizenship, but about their nationalilty. The Russian language itself has no significant differences.

KM, Ksenia i Clair, Spasibo ))


Russian is an interesting example. Unlike other languages like Mandarin, Spanish, Indonesian (and God forbid, English especially!), there isn't a particularly distinct subset of Russian "accents" or Russian "dialects" per se, particularly if you exclude Ukainian Russian pronunciation. However, you do get two different tiers of spoken Russian, which is why people do tend to think that there are different dialects. These two tiers - as I'd like to call it - are "native Russian", and "non-native Russian". 


Native Russian is spoken by, well, people who have grown up speaking Russian as a first language. Their geographical area is irrelevant - they could have been born in Bishkek or Sterlitamak, but if they speak Russian as their first language, then they do tend to speak with that coveted Standard Russian that all of us foreigners have been taught in our evening classes and language books. 


Non-native Russian, on the other hand, is spoken by people who may or may not be fluent in Russian, and do not speak it as a mother tongue. This includes many smaller ethnic groups in Russia, Ukrainians, Kazakhs and us Brits/Americans/foreigners. The reason why you get this deviation in speech and intonation - clear evidence of a "foreign accent" - is simply because the speakers are foreign!


Some Russians, as you will meet in the course of your lifetime, do complain that certain people in certain cities speak with a different accent, but this isn't largely true. These people may adopt certain styles of speech, or have injected their own personalities (cheerfulness, stoicism etc.) into the things that they say. But their accent, or dialect, remains largely the same. This is why it is so hard to pinpoint where someone comes from in Russia!

The Russian language, from my experience, indeed does not offer many dialects/accents/varieties.


I would be very reluctant to refer to people from especially Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan (and other former Soviet Republics) as "non-native" because in fact, many of these people ARE native Russian speakers. In Ukraine, there are people who grow up speaking Russian and only occassionally hearing Ukrainian until they go to school where they will have to learn Ukrainian. Sometimes, Ukrainians or Belarusians will speak Russian with a certain degree of Ukrainian or Belarusian words. But this was not your question.


Russians themselves sometimes make fun of the Moscow accent by making the vowels longer than they are for other Russian speakers, changing the intonation, and omitting certain letters.


There is also an information which I cannot confirm about Northern Russian: apparently, they pronounce the "o" as an "o" there, even when other Russian speakers would pronounce it as an "a". Could anyone confirm?


Turning back to Ukraine, two phenomena you can frequently hear are "sh" instead of "sht" in the word "shto" (Ukrainians would say "sho") and "h" instead of "g" (for example "horod" instead of "gorod"). But this last one is a phenomenon in other Slavic languages, too. The city of Prague is called "Praha" in Czech, for example.

There have been arguments among linguists from several countries that in fact, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian (maybe also Ruthenian) are all one language, instead of separate ones. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to determine what is a "language" and what is a "dialect". Sometimes, a decision is made only for political reasons (not saying that this is the case here).

To sum it up, if you speak standard Russian with a foreign accent, everyone will understand you. Do not expect to find too many dialects, as in other countries. And do not expect too many Russian speakers to ask you where you come from - they are used to foreigners speaking their language, and they know that sometimes a foreigner will have an accent and make mistakes.

Thank you Josephine and Katya ))

Thank you very much Learner54321 ))

You are welcome, Yulia!


If I may add to my previous comments. You had asked:


"Based on that circumstances, do all Russian from different places have their own dialect or different accent whenever they talk to their relatives, families, friends, or someone they know in their daily life?"


I can confirm that Russian speakers do change the way they speak depending on whether they are talking to someone in their private life as opposed to their professional life. The language becomes more informal in private, and they would use certain words that they would not use in their job. This is definitely not only a question of dialect/accent, but from my experience, this is also true for the very few "regional" variations of the language: One can arguably find more of these variations when the speaker is speaking to someone who is familiar with these variations.

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