Languages of Russia

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Russian was the sole official language of the Russian Empire which existed until 1917. During the Soviet period, the policy toward the languages of the various other ethnic groups fluctuated in practice. The state helped develop alphabets and grammarfor various languages across the country that had previously been lacking a written form. Though each of the constituent republics had its own official language, the unifying role and superior status was reserved for Russian.

Russian lost its status in many of the new republics that arose following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. In Russia, however, the dominating status of the Russian language continued. Today, 97% of the public school students of Russia receive their education only or mostly in Russian, even though Russia is made up of approximately 80% ethnic Russians.

Official languages

Although Russian is the only federally official language of the Russian Federation, there are several other officially-recognized languages within Russia's various constituencies. This is a list of languages that are official only in certain parts of Russia (the language family in which the language belongs is given in parentheses).

  1. Abaza (Northwest Caucasian; in the Karachay-CherkessiaKarachay-Cherkess Republic)
  2. Adyghe (Northwest Caucasian; in the Republic of AdygeaRepublic of Adygea)
  3. Altay (Turkic; in the Altai RepublicAltai Republic)
  4. Avar (Northeast Caucasian; in the Republic of DagestanRepublic of Dagestan)
  5. Bashkir (Turkic; in the BashkortostanRepublic of Bashkortostan)
  6. Buryat (Mongolic; in Agin-Buryat Okrug and the Republic of BuryatiaBuryat Republic)
  7. Chechen (Northeast Caucasian; in the ChechnyaChechen Republic)
  8. Chukchi (Chukotko-Kamchatkan; in Chukotka Autonomous OkrugChukotka Autonomous Okrug)
  9. Chuvash (Turkic; in the Chuvash RepublicChuvash Republic)
  10. Erzya (Uralic; in the Republic of MordoviaRepublic of Mordovia)
  11. Ingush (Northeast Caucasian; in the IngushetiaRepublic of Ingushetia)
  12. Kabardian (Northwest Caucasian; in the Kabardino-BalkariaKabardino-Balkar Republic and Karachay-CherkessiaKarachay-Cherkess Republic)
  13. Kalmyk (Mongolic; in the KalmykiaRepublic of Kalmykia)
  14. Karachay-Balkar (Turkic; in the Kabardino-BalkariaKabardino-Balkar Republic and Karachay-CherkessiaKarachay-Cherkess Republic)
  15. Khakas (Turkic; in the KhakassiaRepublic of Khakassia)
  16. Khanty (Uralic; in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous OkrugKhanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug)
  17. Komi-Zyrian (Uralic; in the Komi RepublicKomi Republic)
  18. Mansi (Uralic; in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous OkrugKhanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug)
  19. Mari (Uralic; in the Mari ElMari El Republic)
  20. Moksha (Uralic; in the Republic of MordoviaRepublic of Mordovia)
  21. Nenets (Uralic; in Nenets Autonomous OkrugNenets Autonomous Okrug)
  22. Nogai (Turkic; in the Karachay-CherkessiaKarachay-Cherkess Republic)
  23. Ossetic (Indo-European; in the North Ossetia-AlaniaRepublic of North Ossetia-Alania)
  24. Tatar (Turkic; in the TatarstanRepublic of Tatarstan)
  25. Tuvаn (Turkic; in the TuvaTuva Republic)
  26. Udmurt (Uralic; in the Udmurt RepublicUdmurt Republic)
  27. Yakut (Turkic; in the Sakha RepublicSakha Republic)

Endangered languages in Russia

There are many endangered languages in Russia. Some are considered to be near extinction and put on the list of endangered languages, and some may have gone extinct since data was last reported. On the other hand, some languages may survive even with few speakers.

Some languages have doubtful data, like Serbian whose information in the Ethnologue is based on the 1959 census.

Languages near extinction

Most numbers are according to Michael Krauss, 1995. Given the time that has passed, languages with extremely few speakers might be extinct today. As of 1997, Kerek and Yugh have now become extinct.

  • Ainu (15)
  • Enets (70)
  • Karagas (25 – 30)
  • Mednyy (10) (an Aleut-Russian creole language)
  • Orok (30 – 82)
  • Sami, Akkala (extinct since 2003)
  • Sami, Ter (2)
  • Udege (100)
  • Vod (25)
  • Yukaghir, Northern (30 – 150)
  • Yukaghir, Southern (1 – 50)

Other endangered languages

  • Chukchi
  • Chulym
  • Erzya
  • Ingrian
  • Ket
  • Ludian
  • Moksha
  • Seto
  • Udmurt
  • Veps
  • Votic


  1. Russian language
  2. Russian alphabet
  3. Russian orthography
  4. Russian phonology
  5. Russian grammar
  6. IPA for Russian
  7. Russian-Cyrillic alphabet
  8. Informal romanizations of Russian
  9. Languages of Russia
  10. List of countries where Russian is an official language
  11. List of English words of Russian origin
  12. List of languages of Russia
  13. Spelling rule
  14. Romanization of Russian
  15. Russian language-History of the Russian language
  16. List of Russian language television channels
  17. Reduplication in the Russian language
  18. Reforms of Russian orthography
  19. Rules of Russian Orthography and Punctuation
  20. Russian language-Runglish
  21. Russian exonyms
  22. Russian Morse code
  23. Russian sayings
  24. Russianism
  25. Russophone
  26. Slavic languages
  27. Test of Russian as a Foreign Language
  28. The differences of Moscovian and St.-Petersburg's speech
  29. Vowel reduction in Russian
  30. Russian proverbs
  31. Russian proverbs:USSR
  32. ALA-LC romanization for Russian
  33. Great Russian language
  34. Olympiada of Spoken Russian
  35. Russian cursive
  36. Russian jokes
  37. Russian National Corpus


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