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I have been trying to learn Russian and have come across many words that sound very similar to English words. This is particularly surprising because, unlike other European languages (which would sound similar as the roots of English and those languages are the same), the roots of Russian and English have been distinct and apart for a longer time. Russian, having originated from the Cyrillic script having words like water, problem, basketball, guitar, etc. sound so strikingly similar is something I cannot attribute simply to coincidence.

I dug a bit deeper into the similarity of Russian and other languages and found that it also shared some words with Sanskrit and this had me baffled as well. Any shedding of light on this topic will be appreciated.

References:-

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b-OjaPV4m8 (of course unlike the misleading title Russian and Sanskrit arent the same language)

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuYrBLmY5pc

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    There is no "Cyrillic Slav" branch of languages. – Anixx Dec 1 '20 at 6:09
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    This belongs more to Linguistics but in it's current form it will be immediately down-voted there, so I'd rather not just mechanically migrate it over there. – shabunc Dec 1 '20 at 12:14
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There is nothing surprising about those similarities considering the fact that Russian belongs to the Indo-European languages (and I do recommend you to start from this Wiki article instead of watching random Youtube videos).

having originated from the Cyrillic Slav branch

There is no such thing. It belongs to the Slavic branch of Indo-European languages. Cyrillic is the name for the writing system (alphabet). Writing system is "arbitrary", it does not define the language and it can be changed.

words like water, problem, basketball, guitar

The list is a bit weird. Russian words for "problem", "basketball" and "guitar" are 'loan words' ("basketball" is a fairly recent one, obviously. Loaned directly from English).

"Water" and "вода", on the other hand, come from the common, very ancient root, reconstructed by linguists as *wod-or. See the entry for water on etymonline.com. These words are similar in all Indo-European languages.

it also shared some words with Sanskrit

Yes, Sanskrit is also a Indo-European language. No surprise here either.

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  • I think it was *wod-r rather than *wod-or – Anixx Dec 1 '20 at 6:12
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    @Anixx I didn't make it up, just copied from etymonline.com: ""Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watr- (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet." – tum_ Dec 1 '20 at 7:55
  • So, there is a mistake or older reconstruction. All academic sources give wod-r. – Anixx Dec 1 '20 at 7:59

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