In this week’s assault on the Russian language I am going to attempt to simplify their equivalent of “THANK YOU”, thereby completing the four ‘obligatory’ elements of the minimal foreign-language-tool-kit when visiting Russia, in my view at least. I suppose we should cover “YES” and “NO” too, but I digress.
“THANK YOU” in Russian is pretty easy to say, and avoids the frequent collision of consonants that we Westerners find so problematic. It is:
OK, it’s simple enough really; bearing in mind that both ‘A’ sounds are sharp, as in “CAN”. Also, the emphasis is on the “SEE” component. The meter matches our English word “INTRINSIC”, as a guide. With this in mind try it again:
You may notice that there is no “YOU” component there – so, more accurately, we may be saying the English equivalent of “THANKS”. The “YOU” is implied.
You can add emphasis by saying “BIG THANKS” or “MANY THANKS” as the situation arises. This is achieved by including:
Yes, it sounds like we are talking about The Bolshoi Ballet, right? Well, not quite. That final ‘E’ is important and is spoken sharply and swiftly, as in ‘EGG’. So think ‘OY-EH’ at the end. Also, the ‘SHOY’ component carries the most emphasis. So to say “BIG/MANY THANKS” in Russian we would use:
Again, this is deliberately in the simplest phonetic form that I can muster. You will find it written a little differently, depending upon where you look. There are also several informal/formal permutations on “THANK YOU”, but frankly we don’t need to go there at this stage. However, if you are curious, take a look here.
As an addendum, I should add something about the word order, now that I am using two whole Russian words together! (it had to happen!). Interestingly enough, our rigid word order doesn’t apply ‘over there’. So it would not be unthinkable to say, for instance:
“THANKS A LOT” – effectively. And yes, the loose word order applies to whole sentences too. On occasion it almost seems as if a group of words relevant to your point are arranged randomly in a line to form a meaningful sentence. I say ‘almost’ because outside of strict rules there are still some common conventions that I have been corrected on in attempts to converse. The only justification offered was that it’s ‘just the way we say it’. There you have it.
Next time: A few choice words #5 – Yes and No
(Photo by D.Boyarrin)