Opinion on learning Russian
I’m a native Russian speaker even though I wasn’t born in Russia nor ever lived there. I was born to a Russian-speaking family abroad. My environment was multilingual so I had to simultaneously juggle 3 different languages daily to get about. I had the privilege of studying 3 additional languages during high-school and college years, and thus even though my level of command of all these 6 languages varies greatly, I’ve gained enough experience to reach certain conclusions and give advice to aspiring learners.
The Russian language definitely is not easy. The Cyrillic alphabet is simple and quick to grasp, but the phonetics with their soft, neutral and hard sounds, the 3 genders, the multitude of cases, tenses, prefixes and suffixes, may prove too hard to swallow, especially for learners with a western background. It is absolutely a very difficult language, and one that has quite a temper of its own. For despite the abundance of grammatical rules present, too few of them can provide structural explanations to the language’s chaotic nature.
However, the difficulty of the language is justified by its immense versatility and wealth of ability to express things, moods, emotions which I found to be hardly expressible in any of the other languages I’ve encountered. Russian is foremost a very natural language, that is, a language which is very deeply and intimately connected to nature, as though pagan, less so to cold mathematical logic. Which is why it has the ability to adapt and work in seemingly unworkable ways. Its vocabulary and proverbs have numerous spiritual and religious connotations, whereas its ability to restructure, morph or even invent new words opens limitless poetic potential. And more so, it is to no lesser extent also an imperial language, as it has as though a sponge absorbed the linguistic and proverbial traits of many Asian and European cultures.
It is a language I have spoken since early childhood, and it is a language which I still, still, struggle greatly to master and understand. And yet, as I continue to coexist with it, I continue getting caught off guard and awed every time I discover or realize something new about it.
Learning Russian is a very ambitious and difficult undertaking, and should not be taken lightly. For even if you would learn some of its grammar and vocabulary, you would still be far off from fully grasping its spirit. But those who would develop their skill to the point of fully appreciating Russian poetry, would absolutely never regret the time and effort spent. For they would discover not only an entirely new way of speaking the world, but also an entirely new way of seeing the world.