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Useful Russian Words and Phrases for Travelers

As a traveler, it is comforting to know that almost everyone in the service industry in Russia have a fairly good grasp of English. However, it is always nice to know a smattering of the local language when you're traveling to another country. So, if you're heading to Russia, this Buzzle write-up has a few simple Russian words and phrases you can pick up.
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Russian phrases for travelers
One of the factors which makes Russian difficult to learn is that its script cannot be deciphered by a non-speaker. Nevertheless, there are a lot of speech-assistance tools available on the Internet, which also aid pronunciation.
You're looking forward to viewing the grandeur of the Kremlin and gasp at the beauty of Saint Basil's Cathedral amidst sips of vodka from your hip flask. Indeed, the nation of Russia and its culture has a lot to offer in terms of beauty, history, and knowledge.

As an avid tourist, it's nice to soak in the atmosphere of the country you're visiting, imbibing as many aspects of the local culture as we can. With this in mind, here's a dose of Russian that's sure to come in handy on your upcoming trip.

A few points to keep in mind
  • As with every language, Russian too has a formal and informal tone to its basic greetings. The formal tone is reserved for strangers, seniors, and elderly people, whereas the informal tone may be used among peers, or someone whom you've come to know over time, and are friendly with.
  • The language is replete with consonants being consistently palatalized, which is why we've emboldened the stressed syllable in our guide.
  • The 'g' sound in Russian is always the hard sound, just like in 'garlic' and not like 'gender'.
The Basics

Yes
Da
No
Nyet
Please
Pozhalusta
(pah-ZHAH-luh-stuh)
Thank you
Spasibo
(spuh-SEE-buh)
You're welcome
Ne za chto
(NYEH-zuh-shtoh)
I'm sorry
Prastijeh
(prah-STEET-yeh)

The Greetings

Hello
Zdravstvuyte!
(ZDRAHST-vooy-tyeh)
Good morning
Dobroe Utro
(DOH-bruh-yeh OO-truh)
Nice to meet you
Ochee prijatneh
(OH-cheen' pree-YAHT-nuh)
Good evening
Dobryj Vecher
(DOH-bryh VYEH-chuhr)
How are you?
Kak di la?
(kahg dee-LAH?)
Fine, thank you
Kharasho spasibo.
(khah-rah-SHOH spah-SEE-buh)
Good night
Spokoynoy nochi
(spah-KOY-nuy NOH-chee)
Goodbye
Do svidaniya
(duh svee-DAH-nyah)

General Terms

I don't speak Russian.
Ya ne govorju po-russki.
(yah nee guh-vah-RYOO pah ROO-skee)
Do you speak English?
Vi govorite po angliyski?
(vyh guh-vah-REE-tyeh pah ahn-GLEES-kee?)

Where is the nearest ...
Gde nahoditsja blizhajshij ...
(gdyeh-NAkho-ditsya-blizh-AY-shiy)

... hospital?
... bol'nica?
... pharmacy?
... apteka?
... subway?
... metro?
... restaurant?
... restoran?

Directions

Is it far?
Eto daleko?
Where is the ... Consulate situated?
Gde nahoditsja ... konsul'stvo?
Turn right
Povernite napravo.
(puh-veer-NEE-tyeh nuh-PRAH-vuh)
Turn left
Povernite nalevo.
(puh-veer-NEE-tyeh nuh-LYEH-vuh)
Straight ahead
Prjamo.
(PRYAH-muh)
Take me to ...
Otvezite menya k...
(Duh-vee-ZEE-tyeh mee-NYAH duh)

With all the language apps available on our smartphones these days, one is never really at a loss of words anywhere around the world. Also, with the increasing reach of English, communication is getting increasingly easier. But yes, learning the local language and making an attempt to speak it is sure to gain you encouragement from the citizens. Try it out in Russia, and see how it goes.
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Published: March 5, 2014
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