Russian Language

Uniting people

Russian is the official language of Russia and one of the six global languages. But not an easy one. If you plan a visit to Russia and want to understand the people better, you can take Russian language courses, they function all over the world. In the beginning you may find it a tough challenge, to learn a Cyrillic language.

However, the inhabitants of the countries which speak Cyrillic languages easily understand each other's languages. Writing appeared in Russia in the 9th century, with the adoption of Christianity. The authors of the ancient Rus alphabet were Cyril and Methodius. The alphabet was named after one of them – Cyril.

Can I survive in Russia if I don’t know the language?

In modern Russian cities the signs are often created in two languages, Russian and English. However, even a foreigner who knows Russian will sometimes find it difficult to understand oral speech, as there are many dialects in Russia. How does Russian language sound like in different regions? The inhabitants of the northern regions and the Volga region pronounce more [o] sounds – [molo’ko],[horo’sho], and those who live in southern regions pronounce more [a] sounds – [mala’ko],[hara’sho]. Foreigners, who know Russian on a good level, can sometimes be recognized by their speech, which is too perfect.
To make the communication easier, you can buy a dictionary or a phrase book in any bookstore. If you plan a long-term visit to Russia, it’s better to take a course in Russian language for travelers. Feel free to ask the way, the residents of any city will try to understand and help you, wine and dine you, make friends with you and will be very happy if you know a few words in Russian. You have already become an insider. After all, language is the way of uniting people on earth. .

Words and phrases that will save a foreigner’s life in Russia:

Где [gde] - Where

Very useful word when you need to find something. It is convenient, because it’s not necessary to use some verb with it, just say "where" and add the name of the place, food or metro station. People immediately understand what you want from them and help you.

Можно? ['mozhna] - "May I?"

Irreplaceable word when you need to ask for anything. It does not require a verb either, so everything is much easier. Just say "May I?" and the name of what you want, or simply point with your finger, if you don't know. Besides, it is appropriate to draw the attention of the waiter politely, "Можно?"

Хорошо [hara'sho] - Good

This word will greatly facilitate your life in Russia. And it can be used both, as a comment and as a question. In fact, with the help of this one word you can even build a dialogue - it sounds weird, but everyone understands.

Конечно [ka'neshna] - Of course

Russians use this word very often. It sounds cool. Especially when you have no idea what's going on, you can just say "of course!" - and it will look as if you are fluent in Russian. In addition, this is another way to agree with someone.

Did you know that…

…All the words with the letter Ф (F) in the Russian language are foreign. The great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was proud of the fact that in his "Tale of Tsar Saltan" there was only one word containing this letter - "флот"(the fleet).

What surprises foreigners in the Russian language most of all?

  • Firstly, it’s the change of words according to gender, number and case, i.e. declination. In most European languages nouns have only nominative and possessive cases. So you will need to remember a lot of endings.
  • Secondly, they are confused by the ambiguity and homonymy of Russian words. For example, “среда” stands for “Wednesday” and for “environment”; “замок” means “a castle” and “a lock”, etc.
  • And the strangest thing is Russian idioms, which are often taken literally. For instance, you might think that “положить зубы на полку” (put one’s teeth on the shelf) stands for “to use false teeth”, but it actually means “to be poor and starve”.

What should I know to avoid confusion?

Don’t forget that in Russia, as in any other country, young people use slang. If they say “blin”, it does not mean that they want to treat you to a delicious meal - they just regret about something. “Kruto” is not a way to boil eggs or an angle of a slope, but rather a positive characteristic of something or someone.

To save you from getting into a mess, remember of swear words in Russian. Note, that not every person who mentions his mother, is proud of her. You shouldn't learn the Russian language for travelers by the inscriptions on the walls, in the hallways and elevators. The frequency of use of obscene words depends on a person's education, cultural level. But even an intelligent, educated man, who strikes a hammer on his finger instead of the nail, will not go without a couple of strong words.

What are the most popular international Russian words?

Some Russian words are understood all over the world: “sputnik”, “perestroika”, “tsar”, “babushka”, “Kalashnikov”, “matryoshka”, “vodka”, “na zdorovie”, “cossack” etc.