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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.

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_1.mp3"] Аэропорт

(a-ero-port)

Airport

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_2.mp3"] Бар

(bar)

Bar

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_3.mp3"] Водка

(vod-ka)

Vodka

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_4.mp3"] 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. 

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_5.mp3"] Паспорт

(pas-port)

Passport

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_6.mp3"] Такси

(tak-si)

Taxi

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_7.mp3"] Шофер

(Sha-fyor)

Chauffeur

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_8.mp3"] Центр

(Tsen-tr)

Center

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_9.mp3"] 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:

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_10.mp3"] 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:

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_11.mp3"] Ситуация

(si-tu-a-tsia)

Situation

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_12.mp3"] Организация

(or-ga-ni-za-tsia)

Organisation

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_13.mp3"] Репутация

(re-pu-ta-tsia)

Reputation

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_15.mp3"] Администрация

(ad-mi-ni-stra-tsia)

Administration

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_16.mp3"] Сертификация

(ser-ti-fi-ka-tsia)

Certification

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_17.mp3"] 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:

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_18.mp3"] 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

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_19.mp3"] Моя

(ma-ya)

My

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_20.mp3"] Машина

(ma-shi-na)

Car

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_22.mp3"] Она работает

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

She is working

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_21.mp3"] 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

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_23.mp3"] Камера

(ka-me-ra)

Camera

Chamber

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_24.mp3"] Чек

(chek)

Check

Bill

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_25.mp3"] Бриллиант

Bri-li-ant)

Brilliant

Diamond

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_26.mp3"] Дата

(da-ta)

Data

Date

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_27.mp3"] Фамилия

(fa-mi-li-ya)

Family

Surname

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_28.mp3"] Банда

(ban-da)

Band

Gang

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_29.mp3"] Проспект

(pros-pekt)

Prospect

Main

street

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_30.mp3"] Магазин

(ma-ga-zin)

Magazine

Shop

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_31.mp3"] Инсулт

(in-sult)

Insult

Stroke

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_32.mp3"] Лист

(list)

List

Leaf

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_33.mp3"] 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

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_24.mp3"] Чек

(chek)

Check

Bill

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_26.mp3"] Дата

(da-ta)

Data

Date

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_27.mp3"] Фамилия

(fa-mi-li-ya)

Family

Surname

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_30.mp3"] 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.

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_34.mp3"] Милкшейк

(milk-sheyk)

Milkshake

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_35.mp3"] Интернет

(in-ter-net)

Internet

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_36.mp3"] Паб

(pab)

Pub

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_37.mp3"] Футбол

(fut-bol)

Football

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_38.mp3"] Трейнинг

(trey-ning)

Training

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_39.mp3"] Блендер

(blen-der)

Blender

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_40.mp3"] Шоу

(show)

Show

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_41.mp3"] Маркетинг

(mar-ke-ting)

Marketing

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_42.mp3"] Менеджер

(me-ne-ger)

Manager

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_43.mp3"] Босс

(boss)

Boss

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_44.mp3"] Вебсайт

(veb-sait)

Website

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_45.mp3"] мяч

(myach)

Match

[sc_embed_player fileurl="https://learntherussianlanguage.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/russianlesson_cognate_46.mp3"] 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!

[tqb_quiz id='2247']

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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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