Runglish, Rusinglish, Ruglish, Russlish, etc., (Russian: русинглиш / рунглиш, rusinglish / runglish), refer to English heavily influenced by the Russian language, a phenomenon common among Russian speakers with English as a second language, spoken in the post-Soviet States.[1]

The earliest of these portmanteau words is Russlish, dating from 1971. Appearing later are (chronologically): Russglish (1991), Ruglish (1993), Ringlish (1996), Ruslish (1997), Runglish (1998), Rusglish (1999), and Rusinglish (2015).[2]

The term "Runglish" was popularized in 2000 as a name for one of the languages aboard the International Space Station. Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyov said: "We say jokingly that we communicate in 'Runglish,' a mixture of Russian and English languages, so that when we are short of words in one language we can use the other, because all the crew members speak both languages well." NASA has since begun listing Runglish as one of the on-board languages.[3] Although less widespread than other pidgins and creoles, such as Tok Pisin, Runglish is spoken in a number of English-Russian communities, such as in Southern Australia and most notably the Russian-speaking community of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York.[4]

In literature

Some notable novels have foreshadowed the development of Runglish. A small subplot in Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2010: Odyssey Two concerned the crew of a Russo-American spaceship, who attempted to break down boredom with a Stamp Out Russlish!! campaign. As the story went, both crews were fully fluent in each other's languages, to the point that they found themselves crossing over languages in mid-conversation, or even simply speaking the other language even when there was no-one who had it as their native tongue present. Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange has a famous form of Runglish called Nadsat. (See: Concordance: A Clockwork Orange) Less famously (but also in science fiction), Robert Heinlein’s novel ‘’The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’’ is written in the heavily Russian-influenced English (much Russian vocabulary, some Russian grammar) of a joint Australian/Russian penal colony on the Moon.

Official resistance

The Russian government declared 2007 to be the "Year of the Russian Language". It has been claimed that this was in part to give support to what is seen as proper Russian against such influences as the spread of English and Runglish.[5] Yuri Prokhorov, the head of the Russian State Institute of Foreign Languages, stated that "Young people always develop fashionable ways of communicating. (But) it is Russian words used incorrectly that damages the purity of the language, not the introduction of foreign words."[5]


Basic borrowing of words

Whenever Russian speakers borrow an English word, they would adapt it to 33-letter Russian alphabet, sometimes altering some sounds.

Therefore, whenever a word with diphthong in Russian, its diphthong gets replaced with a Russian vowel.

Borrowing English words over existing Russian ones

The following examples of the Runglish "lish" are related to Brighton Beach speak, rather than the array of borrowed words used in Russia.

  1. Driving: Драйвить, Draivit (Proper Russian: вести машину/ехать)
  2. Case: кейс, Keis (Proper Russian: случай)
  3. Donuts: Донаты, Donaty (Proper Russian: пончики)
  4. Appointments: Аппойнтменты, Appoyntmenty (Proper Russian: Назначения [на приём])
  5. Sliced Cheese: Наслайсаный чиз, Naslaysaniy chiz (Proper Russian: Нарезанный сыр)
  6. To merge branches: Смержить бранчи, Smerzhit' branchi (Proper Russian: Совместить ветки)
  7. To manage: Сменеджить, Smenedzhit' (Proper Russian: Справиться)
  8. I sent you message with attached request: Я засендил тебе месседж с приаттаченым реквестом (Ya zasendil tebe messedzh s priattachenym rekvestom) (Proper Russian: Я отправил тебе письмо/сообщение с прикреплённым запросом)
  9. Manual (as in "manual for an item, a device"): Мануал (Proper Russian: Инструкция)
  10. Adapter: Адаптер (Proper Russian: переходник)
  11. Connector: Коннектор (Proper Russian: соединитель)
  12. Splitter: сплиттер (Proper Russian: разветвитель)
  13. LED: лэд (Proper Russian: светодиод)

Borrowing of basic words due to some specific reason

Sometimes, however, words get borrowed to indicate the specific type of the item, to avoid lengthy adjectives. In this case, a false friend may appear.

In fact, sometimes, even word "кейс" or "донат" can refer to something different than "case" or "doughnut":

  1. Кейс (borrowed "Case" as in "attache case" briefcase): it refers to "a small briefcase for carrying books, paperbooks, papers" [6] (Russian for briefcase, "чемодан", (t)chemodan, is normally used for big briefcases for travellers).
  2. Донаты, Donaty (borrowed and shortened "Donations", used in MMORPG slang for pay-to-win system or paid, purchaseable items). Normal Russian word "взнос", Vznos may also mean "payment" as in pay-to-play subscription.
  3. Брекеты (borrowed "brackets"): refers to dental brackets for teeth correction, not brackets in general (proper Russian would be Стоматологические скобы, "stomatologycheskie skoby").
  4. Тайм-менеджмент (borrowed "Time Management") is hard to translate properly: Russian "[умение] управлять временем" would sound like "sci-fi"-ish "time manipulation" rather than "time management"; while "[умение] распоряжаться временем" would lose the implication of managing one's personal time, it would sound as "ability to organize time".
  5. "E-mail" (in the writing) is borrowed as a noun for both "e-mail message" and "e-mail address". Proper Russian would be lengthy: "Электронное письмо", "Адрес электронной почты".
  6. Каршеринг (borrowed "Car Sharing [service]"): in Russian, direct phrase "деление автомобилей" would be desinformative, since it would refer to "breaking apart" cars/"breaking down" cars/"sharing" cars/"dividing" cars/"time sharing" car use and even "splitting" cars (as if a car would be "shared" in parts between parties).
  7. Джейсэм, pronounced almost as "Jay Sam" (borrowed GSM): this abbreviation was used as a word for cellular phone of early GSM era in general, to indicate the compactness, portability of the cellular phone (compared to semi-stationary, car-mounted "radiophones", as well as the advantage to rare CDMA phones when it comes to popularity and service area coverage).
  8. Фен, derived from fan, is used in Russian for hair dryers, rather than devices called "fans".
  9. Фан, derived from another fan, was used to refer to football fans.
  10. Компаньон (borrowed "companion") is used commonly since original word "спутник" ("sputnik") is now a word used for space satellites.
  11. Саттелит (borrowed "satellite", as it "satellite city") is also borrowed sometimes to avoid similar confusion (since "sputnik" word is heavy associated with space satellites and the related technology, like "satellite TV" - "спутниковое ТВ").
  12. Метро(политен) (borrowed Metro(politan)) refers to subway train systems due to association of subway to Metropolitan Railway.
  13. Potato chips are "чипсы", Chipsy in Russian, while microchips in Russian are "чипы", Chipy (proper Russian would be "микросхемы").
  14. "Spray" word can be found in Russian used for pressured spray bottles, such as deodorants. Non-pressured sprays are referred to with Russian word "распрыскиватель" or slang word "пшикалка", but pressured can of something with a spray would be "спрей".


Sometimes, Russian brands use proper English name to either mimic/to highlight the "Western" feel of new concept introduced.

  • Fix Price name of chain stores can be a prime example of that: the store originally introduced "everything costs X" concept of fixed price;

Runglish as a name for "Russian's flawed English"

Another practice, misnomered as "Runglish", implies use of Russian way for constructing sentences, omitting words and employing literal translations of Russian idioms, as well as using more "official-sounding" style while speaking/writing in English.

"Synthetic language" structure of Russian language may make learning English norms more difficult: while English language requires a certain order of words in a sentence, "synthetic" Russian just doesn't have such a requirement; instead, it relies on a certain system of suffixes and endings for almost all words used instead.

Overly "official" vocabulary

Such a lish may fail to feel neutral and clear to western English speakers, since many words, widely used in Russian in day-to-day chat, can be perceived as official-styled, and may sound like a show-off attempt.

  • Say, along with "Беречь еду" ("to save food") phrase, Russians would use "Экономить еду" (to "economy" food) in same exact meaning. Such day-to-day use of "officially sounding" borrowed words instead of words native for Russian language is often called by Russians as "канцелярит" [7](kan-tsee-lya-rit), basically, language people from offices would "get infected with".
    • Phrase "ration food", implying strict saving of food, however, won't directly translate into Russian; similar-sounding word "рацион" (rah-tsee-on) normally means "animal's diet" instead. Mixup of such words (due to influence of Continental European languages) can also be called out as "runglish".

The very word "канцелярия" refers to accounting and office clerks who make internal reports, rather than chancellors. Therefore, "канцелярит" may be loosely translated as "clerk's soreness" or "clerk-itis"; and the word refers to a specific style of speech, with use of words people not working in offices wouldn't use often.

Simple tense overuse

This "Runglish" style" may include improper use of "simple" tenses (X did Y), rather than "perfect" one (X have done Y).

  • A possible difficulty to grasp the concepts of "perfect" tense is, the idea of "perfect" form of a verb is used in Russian language on occasions "simple" tenses in English cover (I did X = Я сделал Х); all while "imperfect" verb would be often used in situations English speaker would use "continuous" form (I was doing X = Я делал Х)

Accidental misuse of idioms, different connotations

Many common words and idioms may be lost in translation in between Russian and English.

A rather known anecdote of accidental, unintended idiom use is "Let('s) me speak from my heart in English, Лец ми спик фром май харт ин инглиш" phrase:[8]

  1. "From my heart" phrase may be misinterpreted as "by heart" idiom, reference to memorisation of some text "as is" to quote it; while it was supposed to refer to "speaking from own heart" idea.
  2. "Let's" is short for "let us"; however, "давайте", which normally means the same in Russian, is also used as a synonym for "Let me", without 1st person plural "us".

Another case of words with a similar meaning, yet different connotation is "Что насчёт" beginning of a sentence, the equivalent of "What about": "Что насчёт"/"Как насчёт" is often used in "what do you think about" neutral sense; or "how about"'s synonym; but as for "what about you" connotation, it is rare for "Что насчёт". Instead of "what about you", for explicit tu quoque exclamation of "accusing of being the same", Russian language utilizes "Сам ты!"\"Сам такой!" exclamation, which can be translated as "such is yourself!" (and, for whataboutery-like accusation, there is "Сам не лучше!", literally "Yourself, not better!").

  • To be exact, a single-letter word "О" is used for "about" in Russian; "Что о Х скажете?" question means "What will/may/can you say about X?"
  • Any software's "About" section has to be translated as "О программе" (About the program).

Silent letters. Historically defined spelling

In Russian language, the idea of "silent letters" (like the silent "e" in words like "dice" or "prone") is exceptionally rare (with the exception of designated "soundless" letters Ь (soft sign) and Ъ (hard sign); it may be challenging to learn proper pronunciation since the very idea of silencing "usual" letters may feel foreign to a person from Russia.

In Russian, it's very rare to mix "usual" letters to represent one complex sound, where 2 "usual" letters form a double-tone, let alone 3-4 letters would be used for 1 sound; a combination of those may look misleading to a Russian. For example, Borscht spelling (with "sch" plus silent "t") may be such; in Russian Cyrillic, the same word is борщ;

It also may be confusing to face words like "blood"/"flood" (with open "ah" sounds in place of double O letters) or "ton" (derived from "tun") vs 1000kg "tonne" (there is one word for both, "тонна").

Common speech-related issues

The pronunciation of the letter R varies between many languages, and Russian is no exception: in Russian it is pronounced closer to the "Japanese "R" sound, or "burst-like" (to English ears, with a hint of "D") as in "Brrr" onomaethopea, or "drilling" noises. Conversely, English "R" may be hard to interpret for a Russian as "r" and not a "v/w" sound.

The sounds of A/E letters and D/T letters (in such English words as "bat"/"bad"/"bet"/"bed" especially) can be confusing for a Russian not just for accent reasons, but due to bad transliteration of English words into Russian (hence causing a situation when "Runglish"-speaking person may get English speech unintentionally flawed):

  1. The "T" sound in English sounds soft, compared to Russian way to say "T", so "d" and "t" may be confused (as in examples "Bed" vs "Bet" listed, letter "t" not always would be recognized); words like "card" and "standard" can be found in Russian as "карта" and"стандарт".
  2. The [ Æ ] diphthong, the sound indicated with [... Æ ...] in transcriptions) can be an extra issue: despite there is a letter for sound, similar to Æ (which is, as if it were "ae" in Russian accent", the letter Я); Russian language tends to replace "A"-for-Æ-diphthong (as in "and", "apple", "rap", "bat", "bad") neither with "Я", the said letter with sound somewhat resembling the Æ sound; nor even as Russian "A" (with "open "ah") for the similar look, but as "Э" letter, a letter with "eh"-like sound, despite the abundance of "e" letters with "eh", "э"-like sounds ("энд", "эппл", "рэп", "бэт", "бэд" are the commons of transliteration; and "John Doe and Jane Doe Co." would be "Джон Доу энд Джейн Доу Ко."; confusing "and" with "end")
  • There is no strict "A with [Æ] sound in original word ---> Э with "eh" in the resulting word" rule: in words like "caliber"/"calorie"/"bar"/"plastic"/"card"/"standard"/"bank"/"fact", Russian transliteration uses "open "Ah" (the latter, however, is a false friend: if "fact" is used in English "as remebered" by a Russian, it may be misinterpreted by native English speaker as f***ed profanity).
  • The practice of transliterating of "a" as "я" does exist in Russian nonetheless: the "Singularity" neologism[9] is spelled in Russian as "Сингулярность"; the middle "a" in "malaria" would be "я" Also, most names with "-ria" are transliterated as "-рия"; with "malaria" word included: "Малярия".


  1. ^ Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 14, 17. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
  2. ^ Lambert, James. 2018. A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity. English World-wide, 39(1): 30. DOI: 10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam
  3. ^ "The Expedition One Crew". spaceflight.nasa.gov.
  4. ^ Feuer, Alan (14 June 2005). "For the Thirsty Runglish Speaker: Try an Ized Cyawfeh". New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  5. ^ a b Blomfield, Adrian (12 September 2007). "English invades Russian language". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  6. ^ [http://endic.ru/kuzhecov/Kes-59547.html}
  7. ^ Examples of use, provided by Posmotre.li
  8. ^ see YouTube video
  9. ^ which does have the "Æ" sound

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