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Twelve Days of Christmas - How to Count in the Russian Language

Updated on March 9, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty began studying Russian Language & Culture in Grade 7, graduating college with a 2nd major in the study at The Ohio State University.

Russia in the 21st Century.
Russia in the 21st Century.
 page from Azbuka, the first Russian language textbook. Printed by Ivan Fyodorov in 1574. (Photos this page public domain)
page from Azbuka, the first Russian language textbook. Printed by Ivan Fyodorov in 1574. (Photos this page public domain)

Count and Laugh Along With Us In Russian

In middle schools some of us learned to count from 1 to 10 in Russian and we had a good time learning the language and the history and culture of Russia, especially the arts and the music.

In high school Russian Class, we learned to sing the Russian lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas.

This means that we at least learned to count from one through twelve in this great language. Actually, we learned to count to a thousand and higher in Russian, and I will show you some of the numbers below.

We had a lot of fun with Russian language numbers and even held a bingo game for an entire class hour one day. Another time, we translated old TV shows into Russian - I did an old episode of The Honeymooners.

In addition, I have provided some fun videos that let you hear the language in numbers and also a Russian group singing the Twelve Days of Christmas in English.

I hope you enjoy these displays and wish them to bring you a smile or a laugh.

Na Zdrovye!

Click here for the entire lyric for the Russian Language version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Russian Numbers 1 to 10

1 - один ("uh-deen")

2 - два ("dva"): The "a" is like that in "Ah."

3 - три ("tree")

4 - четыре ("chye-tir-ye"): The first "e" is like our "short e" or "eh" sounds and the last "e" is almost "ee."

5 - пять ("pyat' "): "A' like "Ah." The (') means a soft-sign (ь) is in place, meaning to cut off the last letter partially by lifting your tongue to behind your front teeth.

6 - шесть ("shest' "): The "e" is like the American "short e" or "eh."

7 - семь ("syem' "): Same type of American "short e." Don't spend much time on the "m", because it has a soft-sign after it.

8 - восемь ("vo-syem' ") : The "o" should have umlauts ( ¨ ) over it and be pronounced like the o in oracle. There are no "long o" sounds in Russian. Remember the soft-sign at the end.

9 - девять ("dyev-yat' "): The "a" sounds like that in "Ah".

10 -десять ("dyes-yat' "): again, "a" like "Ah."

Russia in Music

Don Kosaken Chor (Don Cossacks Choir): Abendglocken (Evening Bells): Traditional Russian Songs
Don Kosaken Chor (Don Cossacks Choir): Abendglocken (Evening Bells): Traditional Russian Songs

The Don Cossack choir singers are my favorite Russian musical group.

 

Matryoshka Dolls Counting To 10

Russian Numbers 11 to 20

Try to guess these pronunciations before you reach the video below!

Give up? Do not feel band. The video tells you how to say each number in Russian, with a human demonstrator pronouncing each word clearly, for your enjoyment.

11 - одиннадцать: один-над-цать. The first syllable is the same as for "1" above. The second syllable is like "n - Ah - d". The last syllable "tsaht'." The rest of the words this list work in a very similar manner of pronunciation.

How Hard are the Russian Numbers?

Which set of numbers was more difficult for you to learn?

See results

12 - две-над-цать

13 - три-над-цать

14 - че-тыр-над-цать

15 - пят-над-цать

16 - шест-над-цать

17 - сем-надцать

18 - восем-надцать

19 - девятнадцать

How To Count 1-20 in Russian

Russian Icon - King Solomon, Known for Counting

Russian icon from first quarter of 18th C. Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia.
Russian icon from first quarter of 18th C. Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia.

Comparison of Roman and Cyrillic Alphabets For Russian Numbers

(Click to enlarge images)
(Click to enlarge images)

Moscow Boys Choir - 12 Days of Christmas

Matryoshka Dolls = 8 (Vocem') In This Set

Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Imperial Russia pre-October Revolution Flag of the old Russian EmpireImperial Russian Flags, 19th Century and 1914-1917
Imperial Russia pre-October Revolution
Imperial Russia pre-October Revolution
Flag of the old Russian Empire
Flag of the old Russian Empire
Imperial Russian Flags, 19th Century and 1914-1917
Imperial Russian Flags, 19th Century and 1914-1917

Russian in the 1960s

The 1960s in Russian is written as "1960-е годы", meaning roughly "the one thousandth, nine hundredth, 60th through 60th years."

She knew how to count! This is a 1960s Era Russian underground comic that was later revived in the 1980s for a short time. (public domain photo)
She knew how to count! This is a 1960s Era Russian underground comic that was later revived in the 1980s for a short time. (public domain photo)

October Country

In 1960s America, it was illegal to have items written in the Russian language within our borders, particularly Soviet newspapers. However, in an experimental language class for youth, we saw Pravda in Russian and a copy of Oktabriana.

Oktyabrina or Octyobriana Is a female Russian name, which is in use since the 1920s is related to the month name (Oktyabr = October), symbolizing the Great October Revolution. There is much legend surrounding the original comics of the same name.

A cult following has grown up around the newer version created in the 1980s and a live film version has been done.

You might find a rare copy of the 1950s-1960s comic at a comics convention, or even a science fiction convention, by a slim chance.

Bonus: Twelve Months In Russian

January: январь = yahn-vahr’

February: февраль = feh-vrahl (Bold indicates stress or emphasis)

March: март = mahrt’

April: апрель = ah-prehl’

May: май = mai (As in the drink "Mai Tai")

June: июнь = eeyun’

July: июль = eeyul’

August: август = ahv-goost or ahf-goost

September: сентябрь = sehn-tyah-br’

October: октябрь ok-tyah-br’

November: ноябрь no-yah-br’

December: декабрь de-kah-br’

The video below is a Russian cartoon about the 12 months of the year, in the Russian language.

© 2007 Patty Inglish

Comments and Counts

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    • profile image

      gema8369@wowway.com 6 years ago

      I would like to know the names of the hours in the slavic language

    • profile image

      Sean Rasmussen 7 years ago

      I've recently made a site that you might find useful:

      www.learnrussiannumbers.com

      On it you can hear and see the numbers from 0 to 1,000 using a keypad; please

      note that your browser requires Flash.

      As well, there is info on a companion app for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

      Hope you find this useful,

      Sean

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      You're the first to comment on that, Vlad. I have the same problem among my students when I teach them to count from 1-10 in Korean. 90% stress the wrong syllable here or there and end up saying something about shaving and putting on makeup.

    • profile image

      Vlad 9 years ago

      The boy in this video placed incorrect stresses on the numerals. He constantly shifted a stress to a first syllable from any place it must be situated.

      It's strange to make such a mistake and have the correct pronunciation at all at the same time :-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      How wonderful - thank you! I learned a few days ago that one of my friends is beginning to learn Russian, so I will have someone to speak with for practice again. So much fun!

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      Thank you Patty again for your kindness. I have that song on CD at home, but I wanted to give a linkto it here, so you can listen to it too. Nice melody and there's counting there too:) I found where you can order their CDs, but I'll still try to search if you can download it from the web.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Dobroe ootro, ReuVera -

      So nice of you to visit! I speak Russian with Ukranian accent, but can be understood a little.:) Misha is sure to be able to help you find what you need, because he helped me find 12 Days of Christmas in the Russian language. He led me to a Russian Language search engine, so if you use one of those, perhaps you can find Christmas Song. I would also like to listen to it.

      Best wishes!

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      How nice of you to make this hub. I'm pretty new here and browsing a lot. Finding treasures here and there... Russian is my native language too (Misha, privet!) and the only language I speak without accent:) Russian singers Tatyana and Sergey Nikitiny have a nice song (Samoilov translation of Shakespeare text), called Christmas song (Rozhdestvenskaya pesnya), but I can't find where you can download it. May be Misha can help.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hi Kenny! I hope this conversation continues, because it has been quite a long time since I knew anyone who speaks Russian, Ukranian or Polish. I love the sound of these languages and this is a lot of fun!

      I was able to obtain a CD of Pope John Paul XXIII singing Christmas Carols in Polish a couple of years ago and it is delightful as well.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      Delightful, unique hub, I had a great time here getting to know Russian, and then had a bonus time in the comments section. Thank you very much, Patty!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      It was fun to do, FairMaid; glad you like it!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank you Elvis, I couldn't get them all one one Hub though! :)

    • Elvis De Leon profile image

      Elvis De Leon 10 years ago

      Interesting, nice amount of resources, too ;)

      Thanks

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank you for all the wonderful and helpful comments. It si all so intersting. Thank you Misha for the links to Russian Lyrics. I will certainly look them over carefully. I don't know how I was going to find them without your help!

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      I can't blame them...

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Misha, its the same, I asked a few Czechs. They absolutely refuse to speak it, of course. ;-)

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      Just Surfed, thanks for the hint :)

      Patty, if you google "???? ??????? ?????????", first four results are translations of the song.

      Disclaimer: I can't be held responsible for the quality of those translations. This song is NOT widely known in Russia, so those are some amature works from some enthusiasts...

      PS OK, hubpages screw russian. You need to search for "sem' lebedej rozhdestvo"... russian characters of course

      PPS well, i think I'll better post the links here :)

      http://lel.khv.ru/poems/resultik1.phtml?ctg=23&...

      http://community.livejournal.com/just_christmas/

      http://www.gorodfm.ru/broadcast/broadcast.146/date...

    • profile image

      Just Surfed In 10 years ago

      Here is the last stanza of that Christmas song. The whole of it is long, but not as long as 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.

      On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Twelve drummers drumming, Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree!

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      Isa,

      My wife is Russian :) Half-Ukranian to be precise.

      I don't know any czech and never been there, so I can't really say. The boy in this video has some accent, but he is pretty close to the right thing...

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Ok, I watched the little boy counting and answered my own question! šest had a slight lisp going on, but I think its the same.. and p?t was definitely the same. Cool hub, Patty!

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Misha - its a classic Christmas song!! Is your wife not American?? If she is, she must know it! 5 golden rings!!!!

      Patty - I llke this hub cos it taught me that I know some Russian. :) I love that one Slavic language makes the others semi-understandable!

      Misha - is the Russian pronunciation of sto, and šest the same as would be in CZ? It would be very cool if I was also pronouncing them correctly!

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      Patty,

      I'm sorry, but I have no clue what 12 days of Xmas is. I asked my wife, and she does not have a clue either :( I might be able to help you, but you need to give me more details...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the insights, Misha. My first instructor spoke both Russian and Ukrainian and I practiced the Russian Langauge with an uncle-in-law that was Ukrainian and also spoke both Ukrainian and Russian. Whatever accent or dialect these two wonderful people had, then I had/have it too. I know some Ukrainian, but I cannot carry on a conversation in it.

      Do you happen to have the 12 Days of Christamas lyrics in Russian, Misha? I had a copy many years ago and cannot find one at this time. Perhaps the Slavic studies department at my local univeristy can help.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      As a native Russian speaker I would like to chime in with a couple of remarks - if you don't mind :)

      You both made great hubs, guys. Patty’s seems to be more complete and self-sufficient, while Mr. Nice’s has better pronunciation markup – all “t” at the end of Russian numbers are soft and should be pronounced more like t’ in tee. (Well, English and Russian t are pronounced differently anyway, but this is the closest match)

      Now, there is some confusion with Ukrainian and Russian among parties involved. Those are different languages. They are both Slavic of course, they are very close – but they are different. Different words, different rules, etc. I can’t speak Ukrainian, and I can hardly understand people speaking it.

      However, there is a Ukrainian (or rather south Russian) dialect of Russian, which you probably meant. It is softer, and it has some funny sounds for classic Russian speaker’s ear :)

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 10 years ago from North America

      My friend I learned Russian from is also Ukrainian. May be That is the sweet dialect of Russian. I have no experience pf northern Russian dialect. I know code talker was the coded language messages used in native languages during wwII. May be from PBS or some other network you can find the related film. Check at your local library you might find it there. If I come across I will let you know. Today I updated my hubpage please visit & you will find it interesting. Keep in touch.

      Regards

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hello Mr. Nice! I originally learned the language from a Ukrainian and it was soft and nice as you say. Then I had an instructor from northern Russia and his speech was more harsh, so I prefer the first speaking style too. I look forward to your posted conversations on your Hub and will go there. I am a little rusty on conversational Russian at times I intermix Russian and English without meaning to do so. I am glad you are posting on Hub pages.

      Marye, you probably know al ot of the WWII history fo the Code Talkers. I find it fascinating and hope PBS shows a film about them soon.

      Best regards! 

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Patty,

      yes I do.

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 10 years ago from North America

      I loved video of the boy counting 1-20. Overall your information is very comprehensive. I don't know how to count but I know some conversation in Russian. I love the language it's very sweet & soft. For example.. Da means yes, Paka means see you later & I love to say Kharosho which mean fine, ok & so on. I will continue my hubpage with basic Russian conversation. So check out later. Keep up the good work.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      A linguist with the military - like Uhuru and Soshi in the Star Trek/Enterprise series. I bet you're very skilled at this. I would have enjoyed it very much I think. Do you know about the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII? Very interesting.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Patty,

      I attended an experimental school on the east coast in the 1960s as well. I ended up being a linguist in the military..LOL!

      Nice hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I was in experimental classes beginning in grade 7 in the sixties that were later dropped by the school system. By the time I reached 12th grade, I was the last student left out of 60 in two middle schools that had begun the language. I don't even know if it is taught in our city schools currently. German was dropped during WWII and picked up again by a very few schools in the 1960s.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      The only thing I have ever learned in Russian is NO. I remember the Russian space crafts Sputnik and the best seller movie Dr Zhivago from when I was a kid growing up in Belgium. It really surprises me that you had Russian classes in the US. When was that Patty? I find that so great. I love the sound of Russian it sounds so soft and smooth to my ears...

      Great HUB

      regards Zsuzsy

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