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Russian PhD Language Question

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I'm currently an undergraduate looking into master's and PhD programs in Russian studies. I noticed that a few of them require or prefer proficiency in German or French in addition to Russian. I was wondering if anyone could give me a little bit more insight into why these languages are required in the first place, and then which language they would recommend? I'm curious as to whether or not there are benefits in learning one over the other, or if it's largely just based on personal preference. I'd like to have as much information possible before I dedicate myself to pursuing proficiency in another language. Thanks! :D

Edited by Slav-of-Style
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German and French are frequently required or recommended in humanities programs because a lot of important scholarship was/is written in those languages. Which language you should choose nominally depends on what scholarship you are interested in. Realistically though, unless you really commit yourself, you won't develop enough of a fluency to read dense texts in the original, so it's your personal preference.

For Russian literature, French is obviously a useful language to know because of the influence France had on Russia's history and culture. Depending on what time period you're doing though, German may be more relevant.

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French was the lingua franca for much of European history. France was also Russia's ally off and on throughout the 19th century. German rose in prominence when so many German princes and princesses married into European royal houses--and remember, not only was Peter the Great's heir a Prussian, but the heir's wife, Catherine the Great, was of German background. And most of the Czars wives were German princesses/archduchesses. 

Edited by NoirFemme
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