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About the site
The story begins with the article ‘Runglish’
I contributed to Wikipedia in summer 2004. Today’s article in Wikipedia is
based on mine but it has since been a bit changed. The site runglish1.narod.ru
first appeared on the web in September
50% visit the site on Runglish
28% visit the site on Canadian English
22% visit the site on Australian English
1. What Runglish stands for
2. Where Runglish is spoken
3. Runglish, British and American English
4. Differences between Runglish and English
5. Overview of Runglish peculiarities
6. Runglish as a variety of English
7. Varieties within Runglish
8. Information on Runglish from the Internet
What is Runglish?
The term Runglish stands for Russian English, i.e. the variety of English spoken by Russian native speakers, of whom there are over 150 million living in over 15 countries.
Where are Russian and Runglish spoken?
Russian is the official language of
There are quite many Russian-speaking communities
in Europe, particularly
Runglish, British and American English
All Russian native speakers naturally speak Runglish instead of English, the variety being quite widely spread (about 100–150 million speakers).
Runglish has distinctive pronunciation, vocabulary, and
grammar. It is basically closer to British than American English (since the majority of Russian mother-tongue speakers live in
What differences are there between Runglish and English?
There are various differences between Runglish and English (either American or British):
Overview of Runglish peculiarities
Ø Short and long vowels (hit and heat) are not distinguished.
Ø Open and close vowels (pan and pen) are not distinguished.
Ø /i:/, /ɪ/, and /j/ sounds make the preceding consonants palatalized.
Ø Voiced and voiceless consonants are not distinguished in final position (leave and leaf).
Ø Aspirated consonants are not generally aspirated.
Ø Russian words are frequently used (dacha, vodka, borsch etc).
Ø Different words may be used (concrete instead of particular, dinner instead of lunch, house instead of building, go in for sport instead of do sport, forget something at home instead of leave something at home etc).
Ø There is no distinction between a, the, and zero article.
Ø Simple tenses are used instead of Perfect and Continuous tenses.
Ø Different prepositions may be used (during instead of for, at or in, with the help of instead of by means of, in instead of at or on etc).
Ø Use of multiple negation (I didn’t do nothing).
Ø Wrong tags are used (‘Didn’t you know that?’ ‘Yes, I didn’t’).
Runglish – a separate language, variety, dialect, pidgin, something else?
Runglish is generally considered to be a variety of
English (as American or Australian English), since it is not a separate
language (as Russian or English), dialect (as Yorkshire dialect or
Varieties within Runglish
There exist numerous varieties of Runglish which can be classified in terms of one’s command of Runglish and the region one comes from/lives at the moment.
Classification 1 (command of Runglish)
Ø Schoolchildren’s Runglish
This is the poorest variety of Runglish which boasts a broad accent, limited vocabulary, and basic command of English grammar. At best, school leavers manage to attain the intermediate level.
Ø University students’ Runglish
This depends on a student’s speciality. If a student takes course in a technical science, their command of Runglish would stay the same. Higher levels are reached by those who study computing, management, marketing, tourism, and journalism.
Ø Runglish spoken by schoolteachers of English
This variety boasts a broad accent, slow speaking, and quite a limited vocabulary but better command of Runglish grammar and spelling.
Ø Runglish spoken by university teachers of English
Speaking is more fluent, vocabulary is wider but the level of English is not proficient but mainly advanced.
Ø Specialists’ Runglish
This can be divided into 2: translators’ Runglish (poorer pronunciation and fluency but wider vocabulary) and interpreters and journalists’ Runglish (impeccable English accent, often American, best fluency but vocabulary might be not as wide as translators’ one).
Classification 2 (region you come from/live)
Ø Metropolitan Runglish
This variety of Runglish is spoken mainly by those living in Moscow and St Petersburg (Ekaterinburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, and Kaliningrad often included). It boasts better accent (often American), fluency, and wider vocabulary.
Ø Regional Runglish
This is spoken by those living in smaller cities and therefore having poorer command of Runglish: their accent is broader, speech is slower, and grammar is worse.
Ø American, etc Runglishes
These are spoken by the native speakers of Russian who live/stay in the US or any other country. These varieties are affected by local languages and have their own distinctive features.
Information on Runglish from the Internet
The inevitable birth of Runglish – When Russian and English merge
By Konstantine Mariupolsky, Russian Bazaar, 25 May 2005. Translated from Russian by Ilya Perchikovsky.
When did Runglish – the result of Russian and English inter-breeding – first appear?
Some say it began in 2000, after the joint
American-Russian expedition via the International Space Station. Because of
the American-Russian association, the process of language unity, which
disrupted long ago by the fall of the
It may the true that the expedition gave an actual name to Runglish, the Russian-Americans, who regularly use expressions like "slaysayushiy chiz" (sliced cheese) and "draivuyem v apsteit po haiveyam" (driving upstate on the highways); however, we know that the real “inventors” were the Russian speakers, spread out across various countries and continents, forced to adapt a foreign language for their own personal needs.
There was no exact point when Latin morphed into
Italian, French or Romanian. In this sense, Runglish
is not unique in its "nou-hau"
(know-how). Runglish sits side-by-side with "Spanglish" (the mixture of Spanish and English),
"Frangle" (French and English, which is
still spoken near the borders of
But what is Runglish, and what do you “eat” it with?
There is some debate about these questions. As a
rule, philologists refer to Runglish as English
spoken by immigrants from
Statistics even revealed that as many as 130 million people speak Runglish (although for that to be valid, the counting of all four waves of Russian/Soviet emigration, plus their descendants is needed). If this is true, then Runglish is the 8th most commonly spoken language in the world. That puts Portuguese, spoken by 181 million people, and "real" Russian, spoken by 145 million, ahead with several other languages. But Runglish exceeds German with its 120 million speakers and French with 72 million.
Whether the philologists are right, I believe that the number of Runglish speakers seems to be smaller. And he is certain that one thing is incorrect: to describe Runglish as a silly and mangled language. I think that English with incorrect articles, pronunciation and the grammar nevertheless remains English, no matter what way you twist it.
To find true Runglish,
one needs to visit
Much has also been written and debated online about Runglish by its speakers. For example, some argue about how the word 'mortgage' in Runglish should be spelled. Should it be "mortgadzh", "morgidzh" or "morgedzh"?
Popular on-line forums getting as many as 300 visitors a day proudly declare that they speak Runglisky. These forums demonstrate some shining examples of "Odessa-American-Russian" like "Naslaysayte polpaunda turki bresta?" (Will you slice me a half a pound of turkey breast?) But if a competition for the most interesting word would be conducted, this reporter thinks the first prize would be awarded to the Runglish neologism of "reshayebl" ("reshayemo", which means "decided" with the English suffix "-able" altogether meaning “decidable”).
What should be done about it? Some Russians criticize it. Writer Tatiana Tolstoy even dedicated an essay to the subject, in which she attacks a certain brand of Russian immigrant culture with sardonic wit.
Tolstoy writes: "Some argue: So what? Yeah,
people moved here from
“Nevertheless, many people throughout
But Tatiana Tolstoy has it all wrong. Any language grows and develops when it finds itself in close contact with another language. Any linguist can tell you that approximately one-third of the English lexicon is borrowed from French. But how many Chinese, Russian, or Indian words (Pajamas, satellite, bungalow) adopted by the English language exist? Englishmen, apparently, did not worry about finding English-language analogs for the designations of these concepts.
The explosion in the usage of Runglish
is simply the attempt of the language to process the waterfall of concepts
and terms, unleashed on it after the fall of the "Iron Curtain." We
know what 'lasois' (salmon) is, but for someone who
saw the pink fish in
Linguistics distinguishes between three levels of
lingual mixing: interlanguage (when words from
another language are borrowed, but the grammar remains the same), pidgin
(words and grammar are unified) and reole (pidgin,
which has reached the level of native language). The conventional point of
view says that Runglish, so far, is located in the
first stage of language mixing. Its grammar is completely borrowed from
Russian, and is never simplified to English. Nevertheless, a study by Mary Polynsky from the
The second generation of immigrants, writes Polynsky, has created a completely "working" mixture of languages, with English serving as the base. In general terms, "slaysat' chiz" (to slice cheese) becomes "cut the sir" (cut the cheese). But it is only the time could tell where this stormy hybrid will take the Russian language. Indeed the development of languages takes place over decades.
"Letz cee" (let's see), as we say it in Runglish.
by ALAN FEUER
June 14, 2005
New York Times
At the Taste of Russia grocery store in
They are Russian immigrants mainly, some of the
many thousands who inhabit
Nonetheless, Lenny Galitsky, who owns the store, said he had found in recent years that many new immigrants would rather use the English words.
"Nobody says indeika anymore," Mr. Galitsky said. "They say 'tyurki.' 'Ize cream,' too, they like to say; no one says 'morozhenoye.' English is easier. It's short."
A change in language tends to follow immigration as closely as a headache tends to follow too much drink. There is Spanglish and its related tongue, Franglais (French combined with English).
Now, on the streets of
A surprising number of Russian words have already entered the greater English lexicon. There are political terms like "apparatchik," "intelligentsia" and "commissar," and, of course, there are culinary nouns like "samovar" (a tea kettle).
But English, too, has made its tiny inroad on the
Russian language - especially in immigrant enclaves like
Often they are technological terms.
"There's no way to translate 'SIM cards' into
Russian," a young salesman at a Sprint store on
The salesman, who would gave his name only as Anthony, went on to say that the "Runglicization" of his mother tongue was a phenomenon mostly prevalent among the old.
"The young people already speak in English mainly," he explained, adding that he himself spoke English 70 percent of the time. "But older people sometimes get confused. They hear English in one ear and Russian in other and it mixes in their head."
Runglish, as a linguistic term, is almost as infelicitous as it sounds when spoken aloud. The name is said to have been coined by a veteran Russian cosmonaut named Sergei Krikalev, who took part in the launch of the Russian-American space station in the fall of 2000.
"We say jokingly that we communicate in Runglish," Mr. Krikalev said at a news conference shortly before the launch. The word, like Runglish itself, seems to have stuck.
To some, however, Runglish is no joke at all but an indication of the slow demise of Russian culture.
"When the kids turn 18, 19 years old, we tell
them, 'Stop speaking English. Speak more Russian,' "
said Alex Kondov, owner of the Varichnaya Restaurant on
Standing next to him, his friend, Vladimir Robu, chipped in: "It is tradition and family. We try to keep the culture alive from home."
Starbucks - that latter-day emblem of American culture - seemed a sensible place to witness Runglish being spoken. After all, one can assume there is no direct translation for a venti latte with soy milk.
At the Starbucks on
Or so some think.
"People say the Russians have learned
English," said Pat Singer, president and founder of the Brighton
Neighborhood Association, which sits in a cluttered storefront on
Ms. Singer's grandparents came from
"This group that comes here now has Russian
newsletters, Russian radio, Russian TV stations," she explained.
"They might as well have stayed in
Other immigrants, she said have learned to speak English just fine. But not the Russians, Ms. Singer said.
"The Russian community has been here 30 years. You'd think they'd all speak English by now."
Part of the problem, Ms. Singer said, is that while English is taught as a second language in the city's public schools, there is a lack of English training for adults.
"The kids - you wouldn't even know they weren't American born," she said, "until they get on the phone to their mothers to say they're coming home late."
Back in May, Russian Bazaar took a look at the Russian spoken in Brighton Beach heavily mixed with English, called Runglish or Runglisky (The inevitable birth of Runlgish – When Russian and English merge). The New York Times folowed up in June with Brighton Beach's Runglish-Speaking Immigrants.
Runglish is essentially Russian with a large number of words replaced with Russified English ones. Words for foods rare in Russia but common here are among the most widespread English bits in the Runglish lexicon. So are terms related to technological advances made after the immigrants left their homeland.
Russian Bazaar rightly points out that Runglish is not just taking place in Brighton Beach among the immigrants in America - it is also widespread among Moscow media who use Russified English words like manazher (managers), metroseksualy (metrosexuals), khipstery (hipsters), rekruting (recruiting) and benefiti (benefits).
The Times article also points out that certain Russian words have entered the English language, such as apparatchik, intelligentsia, commissar and samovar. The English influence on Russian among recent immigrants, however, is clearly greater.
Short Runglish lexicon:
Cross-Bronx Expressway: Cress Bonx Exprezvey
Driving Upstate on the Highways: Draivuyem v Apsteit po Haiveyam
Ice Cream: Ize Cream
Iced Coffee: Ized Cyawfeh
Sim Cards: Syim Karti
Sliced Cheese: Slaysayushiy Chiz