Following last week‘s epic treatise on the Russian equivalent of “Hello”, it’s only logical (and yes, predictable) to cover “Goodbye” next. This is an effort to cover the ultra-basics of the Russian language. I’ll say this every time: I’m not a teacher, just someone who is also learning the language. I may be a few steps further down the road than some of you, but that’s all. Oh, yes: it’s also important to note that I am dealing strictly with English phonetics here – i.e.: “it sounds like”. I don’t think we’ll be delving into Cyrillic (the Russian written alphabet) any time soon.
Courtesy of Hollywood; you are very likely to be familiar with the Russian for “Goodbye”, even if you don’t realise it. You will surely have heard:
OK, that’s “DASS” to rhyme with “PASS” and “VA” said like “VAN” without the ‘N’. “DAN” sounds like the conventional shortening of the name ‘Daniel” and “YA” sounds like ‘Yak’ without the ‘K’:
There you go. It’s a lot easier (and probably more familiar) than the Russian formal hello: Z’DRAZZ-VITS-CHA, which let’s face it, is a real milestone for someone new to the language.
As for the version of “Hello” above, there is also an informal version which is easier still, though not recommended when speaking to strangers, authority figures, the President of the country, and so forth. It is simply: “PAKA”, which sounds like “packer”, but with two sharp “A” sounds and no “er” at the end. Tread carefully. But by all means do jump into the fun or challenge of learning a few Russian words as you plan your Trans-Siberian trip.
So that’s hello and goodbye in workable formalised versions. We have all got to start somewhere. Generally speaking, and in my experience, trying to speak to a foreigner in their native language seems to help garner some respect and consideration. Having said that, there are always those who are irritated by another’s mashing of the recipients proud mother-tongue. So, you can’t win ’em all.
Like other cultures, Russia has its own formalities and etiquette that reads like a mind-bending checklist to outsiders. I suppose we all have behaviours that we take for granted but are sticking-points, even mine-fields to others. I try to err towards formality and respect as appropriate, but sure, I’m going to get it wrong on occasions.
It’s a balancing act to some degree. In spite of (because of?) their culture, some individuals may want to dominate or even abuse you – just like anywhere I suppose! so, I often feel that I have to maintain self-respect, even self-preservation perhaps. But, politeness first. Then, if the recipient laughs and says “Oh just relax!”, there’s no harm, no foul.
Next time: A few choice words #3 – Please
(Photo by thisisbossi)