Language Barrier

Nov 23rd, 2004, 06:48 AM
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Language Barrier

I am spending a brief amount of time in both St. Petersburg and Moscow and do not know any Russian. Is there a resource out there that can offer the basics or will I be fine?
BEK is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2004, 07:29 AM
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If nothing else I would suggest becoming at least a little familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet which can easily be done on the Internet
Intrepid1 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2004, 07:37 AM
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My feeling is that any time you go to a country where you don't speak the language you owe it to yourself and the people you will encounter to know at least a few basic phrases.
The Cyrillic alphabet isn't very difficult, and it's the place to start. Any Russian-English dictionary will give you a start with that, and I'm sure there are resources on the web as well.
For basic phrases (please, thank you, hello, goodbye....) as well as some travel-related phrases that might be helpful, go to and select Russian. The audio feature enables you to hear native speakers, which is always useful.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2004, 08:14 AM
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I definitely encourage you to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. You will need it in order to read street names, building names and (if you take the Moscow Metro) the names of stations (unless they've started posting the names in the Latin alphabet as well, since I was last there.)

Russian is written much more phonetically than English. The alphabet is not that difficult to learn.
Vorkuta is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2004, 10:47 AM
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I am totally against language barriers. I think the people who put up the barriers are insensitive to the needs of the people of the world. Especially difficult to over come are the concrete language barriers, including those topped with electronic sensors. Anytime you see such a barrier, it should either be torn down, or should be reported to the authorities (if you know who they are, which I don't, and if I did, I don't know their language anyway).

PS: don't mention my name in response to this, as I am a very sensitive guy.
Infotrack is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2004, 10:53 AM
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This is an excellent translation site. It may not help you while travelling but it is still an excellent site.
strap426 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Russian is the official language, although many Russians speak some English. It is becoming a requirement in the business world, but by no means is English universally understood and spoken.

You will not learn the language in a short time--as others mentioned, concentrate on:

-Learning the Cyrillic alphabet (Did you know that "PECTOPAH" means "RESTAURANT"?) so you have a change to recognize street names, labels and the like.

-Learning some "courtesy" phrases (privet, spaciba, pazhulsta)

There are many language guides, dictionaries, phrase books and the like, but the 'Eyewitness Travel Phrase Book: Russian' book is a convenient format (fits easily into the back pants pocket) and has a good layout of necessary survival phrases so you can quickly ask "Gdye too-alyet?" (Where is the bathroom?) or "Vi gavareet-ye pa-angleeksee?" (Do you speak English?), although it uses a non-standard pronunciation guide (a version of it is included in the back of the DK/Eyewitness Guides to Moscow and St. Petersburg). Most travelers I work with use only this (as it is easier to carry one book than two).

Lonely Planet's Guide to Russian is also good.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  
Nov 24th, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Learning Cyrillic is a good first step. Because if you knew it, you would know that PECTOPAH is pronounced "ress-toe-rahn" (sounds like "restaurant, doesn't it?) and CYΠ is pronounced "soup" (and means "soup"). With very little training, you can puzzle out a lot of things, such as signs you see in the street.
Robespierre is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Just got back from Moscow and StPtrbg in the last 2 hours. Made it ok with limited russian and hand signals but many people spoke enough english. Knew a little on the cryllic but learn more when I was there and it was very helpful. Learn the basics if you can and you will make it but I saw a Japaneese girls who had learned some russian (she may have been a student) and she was with a few friends who did not know, but she got by really well with dealing with sales people. The two most important words are ---"spaseeba" which is "Thank You" and Beva which is "beer". Vodka is the same but then get to the name brands of each is the next step. Good Luck...........
Subway_Scoundrel is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Subway, is this a typo in your post, should be "Pevo" for beer or maybe "Peevo" not "beva". Or is it a new slang word I'm not familiar with?
FainaAgain is offline  

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