Russian dialects

Map of the Russian dialects of the primary formation (Northern is dark green, Central is yellow-green, Southern is red)

Russian dialects are spoken variants of the Russian language.

Russian dialects and territorial varieties are divided in two conceptual chronological and geographic categories:[1]

  1. The dialects of the territory of the primary formation, which consist of "Old" Russia of the 16th century (before the Eastern conquests by Ivan the Terrible) and roughly correlate with the modern Central and Northwestern Federal districts. These "historical dialects" are claimed as ethnically Russian (Russkii).
  2. The dialects of the territory of the second formation, where Russians settled after the 16th century. These new territorial varieties were produced by the Russian and Soviet imperial expansions during the last centuries and are mainly spoken by non-Slavic, non-Slavophone, and non-Orthodox populations in post-Soviet states.

In Russia

Depending on the presence or the absence of vowel reduction (akanye and/or ikanye) and the pronunciation of Proto-Slavic *g, Russian is divided into two main dialectical divisions and the intermediate one:

  • Northern, in the northern and north-eastern parts of European Russia, from Veliky Novgorod to the Perm and northern Ural regions; this has no or little vowel reduction in unstressed positions and stop /ɡ/.
  • Southern, in the western and southern parts of European Russia; this has various types of vowel reduction and fricative /ɣ/; this group makes up a dialect continuum with Belarusian, although it differs significantly from the Ukrainian dialects to the further south, sharing only a few isoglosses (namely the fricative pronunciation of Proto-Slavic *g).
  • Central or Middle is in an intermediate position between the above two, stretching from Pskov to Tver, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and down to the Lower Volga region; this group is very heterogeneous and consists of dialects both with and without vowel reduction and either /ɡ/ or /ɣ/. The Muscovite dialect forms the basis of Standard Russian: being originally a northern dialect, with /ɡ/ and no reduction, it later came under the southern influence and has adopted vowel reduction, but retained /ɡ/.

The dialects of the southern Ural, Siberia and the Far East may be of all three groups, depending on where the settlers from European Russia came from. The dialects of the Lower Don and the Northern Caucasus are of the Southern Russian origin.

Dialects within Russia

Map of the Russian dialects (in Russian)

Northern Russian

Central or Middle Russian

  • Western
  • Eastern
Bashkort Russian

Bashkort Russian is characterised by the adoption of native Bashkir and Tatar words such as айда replacing давай to mean "let's go".[2]

Lake Peipus

Lake Peipus dialect (Russian: Причудский говор) is a Russian language variety spoken on both sides of the Lake Peipus in Pskov Oblast, Russia and some counties of Estonia. It originated as a mix of Pskov and Gdov dialects of the Central Russian cluster. As many other dialects from this area, it is often considered to be transitional between Russian and Belarusian. Lake Peipus dialects also include some loanwords from the Estonian language.

The dialect has been studied and described by Olga Rovnova of the University of Tartu who has conducted fieldwork in Russian Old Believers' communities in Estonia.

Southern Russian

Astrakhani Russian

Astrakhani Russian is a collection of varieties of Russian spoken in the Astrakhan Oblast, predominantly by the ethnically mixed population — ethnic Russians (61%), Kazakhs (17%), Tatars (7%) among the main speakers, and include many other groups such as Azeris, "Dagestani" (by self-identification according to the 2010 census), Nogay, and Ukrainians.

Like Dagestani Russian, Astrakhan Russian refers to many different dialects varying depending on a speaker's native language, ethnicity, age, occupation, and other social factors. Even in the metropolitan area of Astrakhan where a person of a minority background is likely to grow up speaking only Russian, traces of their heritage language are still present.


Isogloss Northern
Unstressed /o/ [o] [ɐ~ə] [a~ɐ~ə~ɨ]
Unstressed /e/, /a/, /o/
after palatalized consonants
[ɪ], [e] [ɪ] [æ] (pre-stressed),
/ɡ/ [ɡ] [ɡ] [ɣ]
/v/ [v] [v] [w~u̯]
/f/ [f] [f] [x~xv~xw]
Present 3 p. sg. & pl. final /t/ /t/ /tʲ/
Final /l/[3] /l/ /l/ /w~u/
Past sg. masc. final /v/[n 1] /l/ /l/
Prothetic /v~w/ no no[n 2] yes
Hardening of final soft labials no no yes
  1. ^ In the dialect of Vologda
  2. ^ Except for восемь ('eight') and some other words

Eastern Europe

Belarusian Russian

Moldovan Russian

Moldovan Russian is characterised by differences in orthography, with the use of Молдова (Moldova) instead of Молдавия (Moldavia) or Кишинэу (Chisinau) instead of Кишинёв in government and media of Moldova. It is also characterized by Romanian loanwords.[4] This change is also widely accepted by Russian-language media inside of Russia, as well. Russian is more often used as a second language and as the language of interethnic communication than as a first language in the country,[5] which contributes to influence from the state language, Romanian.

Ukrainian Russian

Odessan Russian

The Russian language as spoken in Odessa is influenced by Yiddish and Ukrainian in grammar, vocabulary, and phraseology. As a result, many phrases sound inherently and uniquely humorous to Russian speakers and constitute a staple of Odessa humour. Also, the Odessa dialect of Yiddish has plenty of Russianisms.[6][7]


Abkhaz Russian

Abkhaz Russian is characterised by the use of Abkhaz terms, orthographical differences, and patterns of speech that diverge from that of Standard Russian.

Chechen Russian

Notable variety features include use of [у] in place of [в], such as in привет, pronounced [приуэт]. Additionally, дон is used as a filler word, similar to ну or короче in standard Russian.

Dagestani Russian

Dagestani Russian (Russian: Дагестанский русский) is a regional variety of the Russian language spoken in Dagestan, a constituent republic of the Russian Federation, and some of the neighboring regions including Astrakhan Oblast and Kalmykia. It is characterized by heavy influence from vernacular languages, mostly those belonging to the Northeast Caucasian and Turkic language families. It is considered a low prestige language and mostly used in informal domains. By some measures, it is considered an ethnolect.

Armenian Russian

Armenian Russian is the regional variety of Russian spoken in Armenia [8][1] and the partially-recognised Republic of Artsakh (as Artsakhi (Armenian) Russian), where parliament voted to establish Russian an official language in March of 2021. [9]

There are some vocabulary differences to the variety of Russian as spoken in Armenia/Arstakh, such as:

English Artsakhi
clothespin шпилька прищепка
water fountain пулпулак фонтан воды
sweatpants финки треники, тренировочные штаны

Central Asia

Kazakhstani Russian

Most key word differences come in the form of toponyms of renamed cities after the 1991 independence of Kazakhstan. Not all renamings are manifested in the Russian language, such as with the city of Almaty, still known by its former name of Alma-Ata in Russian, because they sound similar. Other differences include names for authorities such as мажилис, мажилисмен which substitute the Russian word депутат. Акимат is a localised Russian construction of the borrowed word Аким, meaning "mayor", and given the traditional -ат suffix in standard Russian that is used for words such as секретариат and ректорат. Kazakhstani Russian is often classified as being influenced strongly by Kazakh and the use of Kazakh words.[10]

Kyrgyzstani Russian

Kyrgyzstani Russian is primarily characterised by orthographic differences. Киргизская Республика (Kirgiz Republic) and Киргизия (Kirgizia) are the standard Russian names, but the country is called Кыргызская Республика (Kyrgyz Republic) or Кыргызстан (Kyrgyzstan) in Russian by the local authorities. The difference between ы and и in naming is classified as a linguistic dispute and is not currently compulsory for Russian-language media to use.[11][12]

There are also word differences, such as сотка (sotka) replacing the standard мобильник (mobil'nik).[13]



Ninilchik Russian is an isolated dialect of Russian spoken in Alaska.


The Russian language in Israel, spoken by Russian repatriates, differs from the Russian language in Russia. Differences range from individual words (such as «йом ришон», "yom rishon", instead of «воскресенье» for Sunday; «матнас», matnas instead of «клуб» for club) and expressions (such as «брать автобус», "take a bus", instead of «ехать на автобусе», "go by bus"; «делать армию», "make an army", instead of «служить в армии», "serve in the army"), to phonetics and phraseology. This variant is called by Israelis and scholars "Rusit"/"Русит", from the Hebrew name of the Russian language.[14][1][15]


Russian dialects usually preserve many archaic words and forms which dropped out of use or were replaced with Church Slavonic counterparts. In North Russian there are about 200 words of Uralic origin.


  • Sussex, Roland; Cubberley, Paul (2006). "Dialects of Russian". The Slavic languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 521–526. ISBN 978-0-521-22315-7.
  1. ^ a b c Kamusella, Tomasz. (2018). Russian: A Monocentric or Pluricentric Language?. Colloquia Humanistica. 2018. 153-196. 10.11649/ch.2018.010.
  2. ^ Wiktionary: айда
  3. ^ Dialects of the Russian Language
  4. ^ Mlechko, Tatiana. "Мы хотим, чтобы центростремительные силы в развитии русского языка были сильнее, чем центробежные" (Interview). Interviewed by Boris Serov. Русский мир.
  5. ^ Statistica MD. Statistics Office of Moldova http://www.statistica.md/public/files/publicatii_electronice/Recensamint/recensamint_2004_vol.I.zip. Retrieved 9 March 2019. Missing or empty |title=
  6. ^ Robert A. Rothstein, "How It Was Sung in Odessa: At the Intersection of Russian and Yiddish Folk Culture", Slavic Review, vol. 60, no. 4 (2001), pp. 781-801 doi:10.2307/2697495
  7. ^ Grenoble, Lenore. "The Sociolinguistics of Variation in Odessan Russian" (PDF). University of Chicago. University of Chicago. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  8. ^ Русский язык в Республике Армения: общественные функции, 2006, p. 21
  9. ^ "Russian Language To Get Official Status In Nagorno-Karabakh". RFERL. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  10. ^ Zhuravleva, E. A. "Русский язык в Казахстане: статус, сферы использования и особенности лексической системы". Украинская ассоциация преподавателей русского языка и литературы. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  11. ^ Киргизский бизнесмен оскорблен правилами орфографии. RIA Novosti. 13 August 2003.
  12. ^ О написании названий государств – бывших республик СССР и их столиц. 17 August 1995. Распоряжение Администрации Президента Российской Федерации от 17 августа 1995 г. № 1495
  13. ^ Словарь "Языки русских городов". ABBYY Lingvo. ABBYY. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  14. ^ Гудбай, Фошкин!, Михаил Носоновский, 12 августа 2017
  15. ^ Ovchinnikova, Irina & Yelenevskaya, Maria. (2015). The Transformation in Language and Culture of Russian-Speaking Israelis Reflected in the Free Association Sets, Read online

Text corpora of Russian dialects

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