Updated date:

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

Patty began to study Russian Language/Culture in Grade 7, graduating college with this as a major subject. Her uncle-in-law was Ukrainian.

 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.

Russia in the 21st Century. is one of the largest countries in the world.

Russia in the 21st Century. is one of the largest countries in the world.

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."

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 bad.

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.

11 - о-дин-над-цать

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

20 - двад-цать

Moscow Boys Choir - 12 Days of Christmas

How Hard are the Russian Numbers?

Additional useful numbers in Russian.

Additional useful numbers in Russian.

Russian Icon: King Solomon, Well 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

Comparison of Roman and Cyrillic Alphabets For Russian Numbers

Matryoshka Dolls = 8 (vocem') in this full set. Sets of similar dolls are given as gifts at Christmas and on other special occasions.

Matryoshka Dolls = 8 (vocem') in this full set. Sets of similar dolls are given as gifts at Christmas and on other special occasions.

Helpful Russian Language Resources

  • Pravda

    Pravda (Truth) is a newspaper in Russian, English and other languages. It was fun to read 1960's editions of this paper in high school classes in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Russian in the 1960s: "The 1960s" in Russian is written as "1960-е годы", meaning roughly "the one thousandth, nine hundredth, 60th through 69th years."

  • Russian Online

    This site offers the alphabet, numbers, and how to pronounce all of them in seven sections of the website total. You can even learn to read street signs. Videos too!

  • Russian

    An Interactive Reference Grammar, this site is very helpful, packed with information and help.

Soviet 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.

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)

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Counts

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 18, 2020:

Thanks Tim! I was able to study Russian in 7th grade and always found it fun and the culture interesting. Happy spring to you!

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 16, 2020:

Truly interesting and enjoyable, Patty. I've had a few friends who learned Russian, and they said it is a pleasant language once you get used to it. Thanks immensely, and stay safe.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 18, 2018:

Hi Katherine - Thanks for the comment and the note about the broken video. I have been looking high and low for a replacement and will keep looking!

With Putin in the news so much,it's good that some of us Americans can speak a little Russian.

Katharine L Sparrow from Massachusetts, USA on July 15, 2018:

Nice! I studied Russian in college, many years ago, so it was fun to have this little "review"! Nice videos to compliment the text, but do fix the last one so readers can enjoy it too! Good job on this article, many little facts I did not know!

gema8369@wowway.com on December 24, 2011:

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

Sean Rasmussen on November 29, 2010:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 21, 2008:

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.

Vlad on December 20, 2008:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 08, 2008:

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 from USA on November 08, 2008:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 08, 2008:

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 from USA on November 07, 2008:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 27, 2007:

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.

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on November 26, 2007:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 18, 2007:

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

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 17, 2007:

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

Elvis De Leon on November 15, 2007:

Interesting, nice amount of resources, too ;)

Thanks

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 15, 2007:

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 from DC Area on November 15, 2007:

I can't blame them...

Isabella Snow on November 15, 2007:

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

Misha from DC Area on November 15, 2007:

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&amp...

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

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

Just Surfed In on November 15, 2007:

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 from DC Area on November 14, 2007:

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 on November 14, 2007:

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 on November 14, 2007:

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 from DC Area on November 14, 2007:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 14, 2007:

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 from DC Area on November 14, 2007:

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 from North America on November 13, 2007:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 12, 2007:

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 on November 12, 2007:

Patty,

yes I do.

Mr Nice from North America on November 12, 2007:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 12, 2007:

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 on November 11, 2007:

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 (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 11, 2007:

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 from Ontario/Canada on November 11, 2007:

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