Runglish, Ruslish, Russlish (Russian: рунглиш, руслиш, русслиш), or Russian English, is a language born out of a mixture of the English and Russian languages. This is common among Russian speakers who speak English as a second language, and it is mainly spoken in 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]

Runglish is formed by adaptation of English phrases and words into Russian-style by adding affixes, with the purpose of using it in everyday communication.[3] Runglish is a neologism used to represent at least two different combinations of Russian and English: pidgin and informal latinizations of the Cyrillic alphabet.

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.[1] Brighton Beach has been nicknamed Little Odessa due to its population of Russian-speaking immigrants from Ukraine and Russia.[4] Runglish is considered to be used and spoken by at least 130 million people.[5] This number mainly consists of Russian-speaking immigrants and their descendants.


Russian immigration


The appearance of Runglish has been caused by a number of social, scientific and political factors from the 19th to 21st centuries.

One of the multiple causes for the blending of the two languages is the increased immigration of Russian speaking communities to the English-speaking parts of the world, and specifically the United States. The main periods of the immigration are the following:

The exposure of English to Russian speech and literature continued with the fall of the Soviet Union, as the Iron Curtain had been eliminated, which opened a possibility for international tourism and communication. Additionally important was the expansion of international contacts, the creation of partnerships and alliances in which English was the main language of communication, state computerization, and, most importantly, the introduction of the Internet.[3]

Brighton Beach

In the United States, Runglish is used in a number of Russian communities. Runglish is particularly popular among the Russian-speaking community in Brighton Beach in New York. Brighton Beach, a small area in New York, is rightfully considered the capital of "Russian English".[6] Before the Great Depression, Brighton Beach used to be a fashionable destination. However, as the economic crisis progressed, luxurious life in the southern part of Brooklyn came to an end, and poor immigrants began populating it instead of wealthy European tourists. For a long time, Brighton Beach was considered to be poor, inaccessible and criminal.[7] Soon, Brighton Beach became a home for many immigrants from all over the world, particularly from the USSR. The arrival of Russian-speaking immigrants helped to gradually develop a former disadvantaged neighbourhood into a powerful community with its own infrastructure, lifestyle and language.[6]

Brighton Beach, New York, has a large Russian-speaking population of immigrants from Ukraine and Russia.

The following are the examples of the Runglish words that are widely used on daily basis in Brighton Beach:


ISS crew: Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko (left), Commander Bill Shepherd (center), and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev (right)

The term "Runglish" was popularized by Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev in 2000, describing the way Russian and American cosmonauts spoke on the International Space Station.[9] Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev 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." Ever since, NASA has begun listing Runglish as one of the on-board languages.[10]

In culture

Runglish is widely used in poetry (Vladimir Mayakovsky "American Russians"), music (Splean "My English-Russian dictionary") and in prose (Arthur С. Clarke's 1982 novel, 2010: Odyssey Two").[11] A monthly published periodical called Wind—New Zealand Russian existed from 1996 to 2003.[12]


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. 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.[13]

A Clockwork Orange

The 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat", which takes its name from the Russian suffix that is equivalent to '-teen' in English.[14] The language in the novel is a secret, used as boundary separating the teen world from the adult.[14] There are multiple examples of the words used by teenagers in the novel:

Even though "Nadsat" is a fictional constructed language that is very different from Runglish, it exemplifies a common usage of a slang combining the English and Russian languages.


Word formation in Runglish have some specific features:

  1. Loan translation or calque, i.e. a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. For example: аккаунт (account - учетная запись), брифинг (briefing – информационное совещание), трафик (traffic – дорожное движение), спичрайтер (speechwriter – составитель текстовых речей), мануал (User's manual - инструкция по применению), адаптер (adapter – переходник), коннектор (connector – соединитель, soyedinitel), cплиттер (splitter – разветвитель, razvetvitel)
  2. Borrowing of English abbreviations "as if those were words": АСАП (ASAP – “as soon as possible” - как можно быстрее), ИМХО (IMHO – “in my humble opinion” – по моему скромному мнению), бтв (BTW – "by the way" – если что), ЛЭД (LED – light-emitting diode; in Russian: светодиод, svyetodiod) etc.
  3. Confusion of languages in phrases like that: забукать номер в отеле (to book – зарезервировать), зачекиниться в аэропорту (to check in – зарегистрироваться);
  4. Hybrids, i.e. words formed by joining the foreign roots of Russian suffixes, prefixes and endings, for example:
юзать (to use - использовать),
зафрендить (to befriend),
пофиксить (to fix - исправить),
пошерить (to share – делиться),
прочекапить (to check up - проверить);[3]

Linguists have highlighted the following spheres, where Runglish is actively used:[7]

  1. Designation of new activities and professions, e.g. «мерчендайзер» (merchandiser), «фрилансер» (freelancer), «менеджер» (manager), «супервайзер» (supervisor), «ютубер» (YouTuber);
  2. Designation of new areas of human knowledge: «блог» (blog), «пиар» (PR), «промоушн» (promotion);
  3. Designation of items: «лэптоп» (laptop)/«ноутбук» ("notebook" small laptop), «мэйк-ап» (make-up), «постер» (poster), «чипы» (microchips), «чипсы» (potato chips); «Джейсэм» (GSM cell-phone network)
  4. Designation of terms to give them prestige: «джоб-оффер» ("job offer"), «cаттелит» ("satellite", as in "satellite city");
  5. Designation of musical genres: «транс» (trance), «фолк» (folk), «рэп» (rap), «эмбиент» (ambient), «ар-эн-би» (R'n'B), «фьюжн» (fusion jazz), «лаунж» (lounge music), «дип хаус» (deep house). The Russian YouTuber Dmitry Kuplinov uses the word «музяка» ("muzak-ah") for the background music in his streams.

Some Russian brands use an English name to imply some "Western", Occidental concept used.

Runglish as Russians' lish

Runglish has some peculiarities which distinguish it from regular English. That's because Russian language is a synthetic language: words in Russian use various morphemes, which depend on grammatical cases, declensions and some other traits; while, as a rule of thumb, every letter in Russian has its own only sound.

Transliteration-related speech issues

Words "bat"/"bad"/"bet"/"bed" are especially difficult for native Russian speakers to tell apart. Those words would be transliterated as бэт, бэд, бет, бед respectively.

Incidentally, there are "krem" and "lin" words in Runglish. Both words illustrate the issues with "-ea-".

Simple past/present/future tenses

Runglish has improper use of simple tenses (X did Y) in place of "perfect" ones (X have done Y).

Misused negation

"We don't need no education" line implies possible misused double negation (the additional "no" in place of "any"). Yet in Runglish, the "no" would be felt as an "additional" negation, ruining the play on words.

Thing is, Russian language lacks a short word, similar to English "any". Russian has similes "какого либо" or "какого бы ни было" - phrases, which are closer to "whichever".

Silent letters

In Russian language, words don't normally have "regular" letters for voiceless sounds (like the "e" in words like "dice" or "prone"); it may be challenging to learn proper pronunciation since the very idea of "silencing" letters may feel foreign to a person from Russia. The exception of designated letters Ь (soft sign) and Ъ (hard sign)) only confirmates the general rule, as these two letters are straight-up "soundless", "signs" and serve special roles.

In layman terms, Russians don't really shortcut their words, as opposed to British practice of shortcutting "a bottle of water" to "a bo'oh o' wa'er" (effectively silencing the "t" letter).

Historically defined spelling

In Russian, it's vanishingly rare to mix 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. Normally, Russians only use Й letter next to a vowel to form anything similar to a diphthong.

A basic example: the double "O" between "L" and "D" as in "flood" or "blood" as opposed to the double "O" as in "book", "crook", "zoomer", "doomer" or "boomer". Russian netizens use word "flood" as "флуд" (flud)

A harder example: Borscht word (with "sch" + silent "t" due to borrowing the word from Yiddish (באָרשט)). In Russian, the same word is борщ (The Щ letter is a single letter for a specific brushy sound).

Overly "official" vocabulary

The lish may fail to feel neutral to native English speakers, since many words, widely used in Russian in regular talk, can be perceived as official-styled: say, along with "Беречь еду" ("to save food") phrase, Russians would use "Экономить еду" (to "economy" food). However, the "рацион" word in Russian is not similar to English "rations" noun or English "to ration" verb; it is closer to a "diet" noun.

Different meanings of similar "official-sounding" words

Such day-to-day use of "officially sounding" borrowed words instead of words native for Russian language is often called out by Russians as "канцелярит" [16](kan-tsee-lya-rit), basically, language people from offices would "get infected with". Runglishers use word "observe" instead of "follow" regarding adhering to rules sometimes. This is related to a similarity in Russian: "Соблюдай" (Sobludai) word for adhering to rules has the same root as "Наблюдай" (Nabludai), which indeed means observing.

Different words for feelings

The vocabulary of modern, non-archaic words used to describe feelings is different in Russian.

For instance, there's one word, "мило" ("meelo") that is supposed to mean "cute". However: compare "Ah, that is so cute" versus "Ah, that is so sweet" versus "Ah, that is so adorable". Yet in Russian, all would translate as "ах, это так мило".

Conversely, a feeling known in Russian as zloradstvo is only expressed in English with a loanword from German: Schadenfreude.

Runglish in Russia

Russian youth

With the increase in globalization after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, English has made its way into the language used in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other ex-soviet states. Runglish is used everyday when talking about politics, economics and other fields of modern life.[3] For many people, English seems more prestigious and therefore the mixing of words help to indicate the level of education and involvement in the world community where English is dominant.[7] Today, Runglish can be often see in various articles and news headlines of official media - «Снегопад в России: травмы, пробки и блэкаут»[17] ("Snowstorm in Russia: injuries, traffic, and blackout"; «Снеговики, волки, сасквочи. Предшественники сочинских маскотов»[18] ("Snowmen, wolves, and sasquatches. Predecessors of Sochi Olympics mascots").

Young people, who are known for their creativity, also are big contributors to the popularization of Runglish. The use of anglicisms has been on the rise in recent years, and is now an essential part of the youth's vocabulary.[19]


The opinions of linguists on the effects of Runglish are divided. Whether some argue that incorporation of foreign words into Russian language enriches it and broadens the culture, others claim that "the large-scale penetration of English is destroying the system of the Russian language, its identity and culture".[20]

In 2006, Vladimir Putin signed the decree "On holding a year of the Russian language".[21] Following that, 2007 had been declared the "Year of the Russian Language" in Russia and abroad, in order to promote the importance and beauty of Russian and limit the usage of foreign words. The rector of A. Pushkin State Institute of the Russian Language Yuri Prokhorov admitted that it was impossible to stop the tendency of the widespread use of foreign terms. However, he believed that the bigger issue was that a large number of Russians could not use their own language correctly.[22]


Many words for basic items are borrowed from English by Russians, even when corresponding words can be found in Russian. English word "hoodie" is copied by Russian clothing shops as "худи"; yet there is a word for the same item: "tolstovka" or "tolstovka s kapushonom". Or, for a piece of clothing to wear around one's neck, there is a word "manishka" in Russian, yet modern resellers of imported clothing use English word "snood" for it; making it hard to find a "manishka" in a Russian online store.

Alternatlively, some ideas in Russian had already been named with words from continental West European languages. For example, English word "Sandwich" competes with German word "butterbrot" in Russian: an open sandwich would normally be a "бутерброд" in Russian, unless it's a small one, a canapé ("канапе").

See also



  1. ^ a b Lambert, James (2017). "A multitude of "lishes": The nomenclature of hybridity". English World-Wide. 38 (3). doi:10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam. ISSN 0172-8865.
  2. ^ Lambert, James (2017). "A multitude of "lishes": The nomenclature of hybridity". English World-Wide. 38 (3). doi:10.1075/eww.38.3.04lam.
  3. ^ a b c d Titova, J.V.; Proshin, R.D. (2013). ""LINGUISTIC PHENOMENON "RUNGLISH": ENGLISH LANGUAGE PENETRATION INTO RUSSIAN LANGUAGE."" (PDF). Редакционная Коллегия: 20–22.
  4. ^ Idov, Michael (Apr 13, 2009). "The Everything Guide to Brighton Beach". Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  5. ^ "КраткаЯ историЯ рунглиша | Русский Базар | Russian Bazaar Newspaper in New York (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Bronx) and New Jersey". Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  6. ^ a b Fedorova, Anna (December 14, 2020). "Runglish and Its Features, or What the Speaker Is Speaking About". Moscow State Institute of International Relations: 1–3. SSRN 3750434.
  7. ^ a b c Magakian, A. V.; Shatokhina, I.D. (2019). "Runglish as one of the consequences of tourism development" (PDF). Young Scholar's Research in the Humanities: 119–123.
  8. ^ Валерьевна, Кубаева Ольга (2021). "УПОТРЕБЛЕНИЕ АНГЛИЦИЗМОВ В РУССКОМ МОЛОДЕЖНОМ СЛЕНГЕ". Социально-гуманитарные знания (3): 204–210. ISSN 0869-8120.
  9. ^ a b Selivanova, A.A. (2011). "Runglish as a new linguistic phenomenon" (PDF): 14–15. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "NASA Human Spaceflight > Personal Space > Expedition One Crew". 2001-10-06. Archived from the original on 2001-10-06. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  11. ^ Selivanova, A.A. (2011). "Runglish as a new linguistic phenomenon" (PDF): 14–15. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ RUDNIKOVA, E.V. (2020). "Immigrants from the Russian Empire in the Early History of New Zealand". Russia and the Contemporary World (3): 6–22. doi:10.31249/rsm/2020.03.01. ISSN 1726-5223. S2CID 229238497.
  13. ^ Heinlein, Robert (1996). The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-312-86355-1.
  14. ^ a b Varushkina, A.V.; Sereda, A.M. (2021). "What is Runglish?" (PDF). Язык в сфере профессиональной коммуникации: 57–61.
  15. ^ Evans, Robert O. (1971). "Nadsat: The Argot and Its Implications in Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange"". Journal of Modern Literature. 1 (3): 406–410. ISSN 0022-281X. JSTOR 3831064.
  16. ^ Examples of use, provided by
  17. ^ "Снегопад в России: травмы, пробки и блэкаут". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  18. ^ "Снеговики, волки, сасквочи. Предшественники сочинских маскотов". February 7, 2014.
  19. ^ "Лингвисты вывели из тени "дилера", "киллера" и "офшор"". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  20. ^ Kravchenko, A.V. (2005). "Бытие человека и экология языка. ("Human being and the ecology of language.")". Лингвистические парадигмы и лингводидактика. 10: 59–63.
  21. ^ Putin, V.V. (December 26, 2006). "О проведении в 2007 г. Года русского языка" (PDF). 1488: 30–42. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ "English invades Russian language". Retrieved 2021-10-22.