Power Phrases Lesson #1
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Lets take another look at the word for water in Russian and some other fun stuff!
If you’re reading this, it means you’d like to know how to say ‘water’ in Russian. I wish I could just lie to you and tell you the word is ‘vaDAH’ and be done with it. Unfortunately, nothing in Russian is that simple. ‘VaDAH’ is ONE way you’ll hear it. The other two ways are:
VOHdu and vahDEE.
It just depends on context. If you’re walking along the street and want to point to some water and exclaim, “Water!” then you’d say, “VaDAH!”
If you’re in a restaurant and want to order water, you’d say, “VOHdu.”
Finally, if you want to offer someone some water — emphasis on some — you’d say, “VahDEE.”
This is typical of the Russian language, where the emphasis shifts depending on which form of the word you’re using. And it’s a bit of a nuisance. Imagine if English did that. Imagine if we said, “One baNAna. Two banaNAS.” But don’t sweat it too much. Make your best guess and hope for the best.
Getting back to water: No one seems to drink it straight out of the faucet. If the locals are afraid of it, so am I. This means you end up buying a lot of bottled water. I always make it my first task, after buying a map of the city, to go out and buy some jugs of purified water…
…if I can remember which word to use.
You might be thinking, “Why would I want a map? I can’t read Russian.”
Well, that just means you haven’t watched my How To Read Russian videos. The great thing about learning to read Russian — aside from the ability to read maps –is that so many signs are simply English words written using the Cyrillic alphabet.
Aside from the obvious use of maps, they have surprising side benefit: People approach you offering to help! And usually, since they know you’re a foreigner, they’ll actually speak to you in English. And if the person happens to be an attractive member of the opposite sex, so much the better, yes? So watch this video, learn How to say ‘map’ in Russian, and go out and buy one once you’re there. Who knows where it will lead you!
The word ‘izvineetyeh’ (which can be spelled numerous ways in English) is used in the same situations as ‘Excuse me‘ is in English. So, when you sneeze, you’d say ‘izvineetye.’ Stopping someone of the street for directions? ‘Izvihneetye, pozhaluista.’ But it’s more broad than the English version, covering situations where we’re apt to say “I’m sorry.” (or nowadays, people more and more are using the colloquial “My bad.”). Accidentallly step on someone’s toes? Ask forgiveness with ‘oi, izvineetye’. Walk into a room where your presence wasn’t expected, ‘Oi, izvineetye pozhaluista.’
Russian, of course, has two ways of addressing people, either formally or informally. This version of excuse me is formal because of that last little ‘tyeh’ at the end of the word. But if you’re with a good friend, you wouldn’t want to be so formal. It’d be like saying “Excuse me, Sir,” if you stepped on your buddy’s foot. So, to make the informal version, just say: ‘izvinee.’
Izvineetyeh, gotta run!
I debated whether to include this word in my list of the most useful Russian words. After all, if you end up taking taxis, the word may never come up. But if you’re an explorer and intend to do some walking in Moscow or St. Petersburg or Kiev, then knowing how to say ‘On foot’ (pishkom) is vital. Here’s some typical phrases you’ll make with this word:
The museum…is it possible on foot? (In other words, you’re asking someone if you can walk to the museum, or will it be too far.) = MuZYAY…mozhno pishkom? (Of course, you can add any particular destination instead of museum.)
Also, when people say, “Poshli!” which means, “Let’s go!”, you can confirm if they truly mean on foot by asking, “Pishkom?”
If you’re walking with someoe and they (or you) suggest a destination to head towards, you can insist on going on foot, instead of in a bus or a taxi, by saying, “Davai pishkom.”
When living in a foreign country you never know what the locals may be thinking. What may seem obvious to you, may not necessarily be what the people around you are thinking at all. The Russian phrase for On foot, will help you to confirm how you will be getting to your destination. By taxi, air, boat, bike, or on foot. Good to know so you can make sure and wear the shoes that will be best suited for your taxi ride.
Zdyays (often written simply as ‘zdes’) is the Russian word for expressing “Here in this location.” It’s the opposite of the word ‘Tam’ (pronounced like the name Tom.) When choosing where to sit in a cafe, you’d ask your friend, “Here or over there.” In Russian, “Zde ili tam?”
You’ll also use the word when agreeing where to meet. There you are with a friend you just met. You agree to meet again that evening, and point to the very spot you’re standing at: “Davai zdes!” = Let’s meet here. (The word ‘davai’ means “Let’s”. No verb for “meet” would be necessary in the above example.)
You’ll also be using ‘zdes’ to ask if various things are available in a particular location:
Zdes est tualyet? = Is there a toilet here?
Zdes est telefon? = Is there a telephone here?
Zdes est restoran ili kafe? = Is there a restaurant or cafe here?