6 Basic Russian Phrases for Surviving Most Any Situation
Russian is an East Slavic language native to the Russians in Eastern Europe. It is an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and is used widely throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and to some extent in the Baltic states. Primarily spoken in the Russian Federation and by older people in the other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union, as well as in Eastern Europe, there were 137 million speakers of Russian in the Russian Federation, and 166 million worldwide (Ethnologue) according to the 2010 census. In addition, Russian is spoken in Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, and the U.S. It is one of the world’s ten most spoken languages.
Forefathers of the modern Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians spoke varieties of Old East Slavic, a language common to all three, before the 14th century, that’s thought to have split into what is now Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian at the end of the 14th century. The East Slavic version of Church Slavonic(the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church) was the official language in Russia until the end of the 17th century. The Russian alphabet and language underwent reforms and westernization after political reforms initiated by Peter the Great in the 18th century. It went ahead incorporating loan words from Western European languages that increased the number of international words in the Russian vocabulary, driving it away from Church Slavonic norms towards spoken norms.
The spelling reform of 1918 gave written Russian its modern appearance as we witness today. Accomplishments in military, scientific, technological. and artistic fields, as well as space exploration, gave modern Russian its worldwide prestige that went along with its superpower image.
Russian was the lingua franca of the Russian Empire, and despite, each republic having its own official language, Russian enjoyed a superior status until 1917. However, after the USSR broke up into several of the newly independent states, in 1991, the states have stringently promoted the use of their native languages, eliminating the privileged status of Russian. Russian is the official language of the Russian Federation and shares its official status at the regional level with other languages in the Federation, such as Chuvash, Bashkort, Tatar, and Yakut. Russian is also a co-official language of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russian does not have the status of an official language in Ukraine, but it still functions as a regional and minority language, with the Constitution of Ukraine providing guarantees for its protection and use. Education in Russian, as well as a choice of Russian as a second language, are still very popular in many of the former Soviet republics, despite it being widely taught in the schools of countries that used to be satellites of the USSR, e.g, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Albania, former East Germany and Cuba, once upon a time, during the 20th century. However, today, most young people in these countries know very little or no Russian because it is is no longer mandatory in the school system. Instead, Russian students study languages such as English or German!
Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, UNESCO, World Bank, World Health Organization, and many other international organizations. Linguists generally divide Russian into three major dialect groups: Northern, Central (transitional), and Southern. There are dozens of smaller variants within each major dialect group. The Central dialect, spoken around the Moscow area, combines the major features of both North and South dialect groups.
Let's now look at phrases and words that will come to your rescue, at a time you need them the most!
Здравствуйте — Hello “Zdravstvujtye“, pronounced zdrah-stvooy-tee
It is the formal version of Привет (Privyet, pronounced pree-vyet, means Hi in Russian) and the one you should use most extensively.
Меня зовут… — My name is…”Menya zavut..”
This is the formal way of answering the above question. The official translation is “I am called…”
Я из X — I am from X “Ya iz..”
Eg Я из Америки — I am from America. “Ya iz Sa-Shi-Ah”
Tell anyone who asks which country you’re from before getting into more specific details.
Вы говорите по-английски? — Do you speak English? “vy govoríte po-anglíjski?”
Да — yes “da” or Нет — no “nyet”
Пожалуйста — Please “pa-zhal-sta” or Спасибо — Thank you “spa-see-ba”
Here are a few bonus phrases/words that will help you express yourself to survive difficult situations
Я хочу есть — I am hungry “ja xočú jestʹ ” or Я хочу́ пить — I am thirsty “ja xočú pit’ “
Где туалет? — Where is the toilet? “gde tualét?”
Помогите! — Help! “pomogíte”
Пожар! — Fire! “požáren”
Полиция! — Police! “militsia”
Стой! — Stop! “stoj”
Я болею — I am sick ” YA bolen “
Больница — hospital “bolʹníca”
Why do you want to learn Russian? Are you travelling to Russia or Ukraine? Do you love learning languages? Whatever be the reason, I recommend you take a plunge and learn a new language. If it’s Russian – a language that I personally find very intriguing, with stories of spies and all, so be it. I hope the above phrases and words will help you, in case you are in a tight spot.
Stay focussed, and dedicated! Happy Learning!