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February 3, 2019

You Already Know Some Russian (Surprise!)

Similarities between Russian and English (cognates), English words that you can freely use in Russian & words to avoid.

What you'll learn in this lesson:

  • Words that are the same in Russian and English
  • A simple trick that you can use on 100's of words to 'Russify' them.
  • Words that can get you in trouble

Last lesson you met Vlad, who taught you your first phrases in Russian. Unfortunately, he missed his flight and wasn't able to go on holiday. Bad for him, but good for us, since he invited an American friend of him for sightseeing in Moscow. 

Let's join them!

Donald just arrived at the airport. And despite the fact that he doesn't know a word in Russian he's already having a good time!

His flight from Washington to Moscow was 9.5 hours and he could use a drink. And Wifi, cause he hasn't tweeted for more than 10 hours.

Аэропорт

(a-ero-port)

Airport

Бар

(bar)

Bar

Водка

(vod-ka)

Vodka

Wi-Fi

(wi-fi)

Wi-Fi

Great! Donald is waiting for his suitcase while he checks Yandex taxi to get to the center where Vlad is working. 

Паспорт

(pas-port)

Passport

Такси

(tak-si)

Taxi

Шофер

(Sha-fyor)

Chauffeur

Центр

(Tsen-tr)

Center

Я американец

(ya a-meri-ka-nets)

I am American

That should be enough for now. Vlad agreed to meet him at the Red Square to start their little tour around the Moscow center.

Sightseeing in Moscow

After a short walk around the Red Square, seeing the Bolshoy Theater, buying a nice fur coat for Donald in Tsum and taking a walk on Stariy Arbat, Donald starts getting hungry and wants to go home.

Vlad offers to bring him to his hotel room and they hop in the car. Vlad hits the pedal and Donald gets pushed back into his chair and Vlad exclaims:

Акселерация

(ak-se-le-ra-tsia)

Acceleration!

Donald completely gets what Vlad said and here's another great lesson that will make your Russian life so much easier:

English words ending in '-tion' can virtually always be translated to Russian by changing the ending to '-tsia (ция)'.

Here's a list of common words that you already know:

Ситуация

(si-tu-a-tsia)

Situation

 Организация

(or-ga-ni-za-tsia)

Organisation

Репутация

(re-pu-ta-tsia)

Reputation

Администрация

(ad-mi-ni-stra-tsia)

Administration

Сертификация

(ser-ti-fi-ka-tsia)

Certification

Гиперинфляция

(gi-per-in-fla-tsia)

Hyperinflation


Some words are not what they seem

Unfortunately, after half a kilometer Vlad's car starts to sputter and make weird noises. They put it on the sidewalk and Vlad screams:

Моя машина не работает!

(ma-ya ma-shi-na nye ra-bo-ta-yet)

My car isn't working!

May machine robot?!?

Donald is confused. After his good start at the airport, the taxi and while sightseeing he thought Russian wouldn't be too difficult. 

Turns out there are quite some words that mean something different than what you might think at first sight

Моя

(ma-ya)

My

Машина

(ma-shi-na)

Car

Она работает

(a-na ra-bo-ta-yet)

She is working

Не

(nye)

Not

Note: the word for 'my' changes in Russian according to the noun it's in front of. If a word ends in an 'a' sound (а or я), then the word for 'my' also ends in that sound. We'll cover this more in-depth in a later lesson!

So you've got to watch out when listening to Russian. Here are some other words that mean something different than what you'd think:

RUSSIAN WORD

ENGLISH WORD

RUSSIAN MEANING

Камера

(ka-me-ra)

Camera

Chamber

Чек

(chek)

Check

Bill

Бриллиант

Bri-li-ant)

Brilliant

Diamond

Дата

(da-ta)

Data

Date

Фамилия

(fa-mi-li-ya)

Family

Surname

Банда

(ban-da)

Band

Gang

Проспект

(pros-pekt)

Prospect

Main

street

Магазин

(ma-ga-zin)

Magazine

Shop

Инсулт

(in-sult)

Insult

Stroke

Лист

(list)

List

Leaf

Фарт

(fart)

Fart

Luck

As you can see, this can cause some funny mistakes:

For example when you hear a sentence with magazine and prospect in it, it's good to know that they weren't looking to publish a new sort of journal (which, by the way, does mean magazine in Russian), but that they probably went to the shop on the main street.

Most of these words you don't really need to remember. Just go through the list (see what I did there?) 3 times so that you'll recognize them when they might pop up.

The most common ones to know are:

RUSSIAN WORD

ENGLISH WORD

RUSSIAN MEANING

Чек

(chek)

Check

Bill

Дата

(da-ta)

Data

Date

Фамилия

(fa-mi-li-ya)

Family

Surname

Магазин

(ma-ga-zin)

Magazine

Shop

Use of English words in Russian

Just like in virtually any other language, English is invading the Russian language. Some language purists might object, but English vocabulary is to stay.

Bad for language purists. Good for us! It makes communication a lot easier and sometimes you can even take an English word and say it with a Russian accent and you'll be understood.

While waiting for the car repair service to arrive, Vlad teaches Donald some words that Russian took from English.

Милкшейк

(milk-sheyk)

Milkshake

Интернет

(in-ter-net)

Internet

Паб

(pab)

Pub

Футбол

(fut-bol)

Football

Трейнинг

(trey-ning)

Training

Блендер

(blen-der)

Blender

Шоу

(show)

Show

Маркетинг

(mar-ke-ting)

Marketing

Менеджер

(me-ne-ger)

Manager

Босс

(boss)

Boss

Вебсайт

(veb-sait)

Website

мяч

(myach)

Match

Кетчуп

(ket-chup)

Ketchup

That should give your Russian vocabulary a quick start!

Now, before we move on to the Russian alphabet, we'll have a little break lesson. There you'll learn the 4 top reasons that explain why Russian isn't that difficult to learn as you may think.

Want to test what you've learned before we move on? Take the quiz below!

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Author: Ari Helderman


I started learning Russian seriously in January 2016, and haven't stopped since. I created this site to help other foreigners speak Russian. You can follow my progress in Russian on my YouTube channel Ари Говорит по-русски.

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