The Expatresse: Learning to read Russian

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The Expatresse is finally making some progress in Russian. It's may not be much for now, but signs on the streets of Moscow are starting to make sense.

I guess I must confess that I have made some progress in Russian. Or at least in decoding Cyrillic.

Here are some signs I can read:


This one says "Big Ben." And the word below that says "school."


One of my personal favorites. This is a coffee house chain called "Coffee House". Except the way it is transliterated in Russian, it looks like it should be pronounced "coffee chaos." But if you say that to a Russian speaker, they don't get it. Meanwhile, the Spouse and I crack up every time we see one. They are as ubiquitous as Starbucks. The sign below with strawberries on it says "BLINI."


This ad literally says (at least as I interpret it) "30 days without paying Internet." That is "Internet: Free for 30 Days" if you sign up for STREAM!


The brown sign says "Art Club Nostalgia."


This yellow sign says "tea coffee", "store" and "second floor".

Here's an easy one.


This one says "Bankomat [that's European for ATM] 24 Hours." But those of us who live here say "24 Yucca." It's wrong, we know. But we can't help it.

My first Russian lesson

I didn't always understand Russian or could decode Cyrillic.
 
I remember my first Russian lesson. I found my Russian teacher through the wonderful, life-saving, time-sucking http://www.expat.ru/. I think he will work out fine for me. But it’s a difficult language. It is not a language I ever had much interest in learning. However, my time here will clearly be richer if I can be a little more 3-dimensional.

I really am a rank beginner. I don’t even know all the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet yet. But every day I grasp another one or two and then find, to my delight, that I can read, albeit S L O W L Y, another ad on the metro. Tuesday, after staring at a series of ads for a magazine that looks like a Russian version of Newsweek, the words Russian Reporter finally materialised before my eyes.

“Hey! That says Russian Reporter!” I said to Baboo, my daughter, who looked up from her Russian copy of Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons.

“Yeah,” she said. “I know.”

“Well, I just this minute figured it out!” I said proudly.

“Yeah,” she sighed, slightly. “I know.”

So my Russian teacher had his work cut out for him from 10:00 until noon, Monday and Wednesday. At the end of two hours of struggling at my first Russian lesson, I was able to read and understand the following:

That was progress, but I remember feeling really exhausted at the end of my first lesson.

Amanda the Expatresse / Expatica

Originally from Ohio, Amanda was bitten by the travel bug when she spent a summer as an exchange student in Australia. She followed The Spouse to Taiwan, South Florida, Buenos Aires, Bratislava (SK) and Russia before moving recently to Luxembourg.

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Susan posted:

    on 25th November 2010, 12:14:54 - Reply

    Thanks for this,

    Will try to make up words, but this is a good guide, no doubt...