Bridgetomoscow. Main page

Russian language

When travelers come to Russia they all face the same problem. The locals speak the language which doesn't sound familiar and looks odd. This is the reason why many people who normally travel independently feel uneasy on their own.

What is this language? It's called Russian or "Russkij', it belongs to the Slavic languages family and it's very similar to Ukranian and Belarus languages. There're about 277 million people who speak Russian. When you are in Moscow, it's a good idea to hire an interpreter or a Moscow tour guide – it'll make your life easier. Most of the locals, especially the old generation don't speak the foreign languages.

But you can also learn the alphabet – that will be extremely helpful when you get around Moscow or any other Russian city. Most of the signs are written in Cyrillic alphabet, but if you know at least some of the letters you can often work out what it means.

The Alphabet

We can divide the alphabet into three groups to make it easier to learn

These letters look like English and sound like English
A a /a/ father
К к /k/ kite
O o /o:/ port
М м /m/ mother
Т т /t/ tent

"False friends"
These letters look like English but sound different
В в /v/ van
Е е /ye/ yes
Н н /n/ normal
Р р /r/ as Scots speak radio  
С с /s/   soft
У у   /u:/ cool
Х х   /kh/ Scottish loch

"The letters which look different"
Б б /b/ book
Г г /g/ gate
Д д /d/ door
Ё ё /yo/ your
Ж ж /zh/ measure
З з /z/ zoo
И и /i:/ feet
Й й /j/   toy
Л л /l/ London
П п /p/ paper
Ф ф /f/ father
Ш ш /sh/ shadow
Ц ц /ts/ fits  
Щ щ /shch/ as in Ckhrushchev (Soviet leader)
Ъ   hard sign
Ы ы /i / ill
Ь   soft sign
Э э /æ/ man
Ю ю /yu/ universe
Я я /ya/ yard

And now let's try to translate from Russian
What do you think these signs mean?
The answers.
Russian English
1. стоп stop
2. метро metro
3. туалет toilet
4. телефон telephone
5. Mакдоналдс McDonald's
6. Мастер банк Master bank
7. Pесторан restaurant
8. фото магазин photo shop
9. Москва Moscow
10. водка vodka
11. кафе-бар cafe-bar
12. нет no
Check your answers
1. You get 9-12 right answers
You are a bright person  and you can read Russian easily!

2.You get 5-9 right answers
You can read Russian but it'll take you more time to learn

3. You get 0-4 right answers
You definitely need an interpreter while in Russia

Here is some useful every day vocabulary
Hello   Здравствуйте   zdrastvuyte
Hi   Привет privet
Good bye До свидания   Do svidanija
Thank you   Спасибо Spasibo

You're welcome

Пожалуйста*(this word has double meaning) Pozhaluista
Please Пожалуйста* Pozhaluista
Excuse me Извините Izvinite
It's fine/good Хорошо Kharasho
I don't understand Я не понимаю Ja nye panimaju
How are you? Как дела? Kak dela?
Where is?  Где? Gde?
How much does it cost? Сколько стоит? Skolko stoit?

You can practice these phrases with your Moscow tour guide. Even if you try using a few Russian words it'll make the locals very pleased!
Top Moscow and Russia tours