Давайте учиться говорить сексуально...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Lesson: How are you?

You and Сара have been hanging out quite a bit lately. It seems you both have a flare for discussing famous people and whether or not they are good, very good, some what good(not bad) , or bad. (You have been practicing haven't you?)

However, today when you see her you can tell somethings wrong. Maybe it's because you never seem to ask about her feelings you big jerk! You quickly realize you have been insensitive and not only greet her informally(because she is no longer a stranger), but also ask how she is...

"Здравствуй Сара, как дела?" (zdravstvoo Sara, kak dela?) (Hello Sara, how are you/things?)

Хорошо, спасибо!

She smiles, and says "Хорошо, спасибо! А у тебя?". (khorosho, spasibo! a u teba?) (Well, thank you! And with you?)

You answer "Неплохо". (ne-plohoi) (not bad).

Over the next few weeks you are extra careful to ask Sara how she feels. Her mood seems to change violently from day to day. Give her reply for a week or so using

"очень хорошо (very well)",
"хорошо (well)",
"неплохо (not badly)",
or "плохо (plohoi) (badly)".

Adverbs are the part of speech that answer the question "how?". Notice that these adverbs look very similar to some adjectives that you already learned. The only difference is that there are no masculine or feminine endings on the words. Instead there is and -o ending. Some adverbs can be formed simply by removing the ending and adding "o".

Another way for you to respond in this dialogue is by saying "тоже" (toe-zh) which means "also" but it is implied that you are saying "I am also (whatever mood the other person is in).

I have been told by numerous people that Russians do not throw this question (how are you?)around the way North Americans do. You wouldn't typically ask someone how they were unless you wanted to know all about their current situation.

Lesson: Addressing teachers, professors and doctors

You would most likely refer to your teacher using their first name and patronymic name Алехандр Иванич (Alexander - son of Ivan).
You could also use the words господин or госпожа and their last name but it is less common. Using доктор or профессор and the last name is another possibility.

Lesson: Asking more about someone's profession.

You are hanging out at Сара's house and looking through her stack of magazines while she is getting ready.

You can make out people's names in the magazines and newspapers but you are not sure why exactly they are famous. One name you have seen a few times is Юрий Гагарин (Yuri Gagarin), you ask "Кто такой Юрий Гогорин?" (kto takoi Yuri Gagarin?) (Who is Yuri Gagarin, as in, tell me more about him).

She answers: "Юрий Гагарин - это известный русский космонавт". (Yuri Gagarin - eto izvestnee rooski kosmonavt) (Yuri Gagarin, this famous Russian cosmonaut). Notice that all the adjectives in this sentence match the noun. Because the noun "cosmonaut" is masculine, the endings are ый, and ий.

Russian's call astronauts cosmonauts by the way.

The question "Кто такой?", or "Who is?", has a feminine form of "Кто такая?". If we were asking about Анна Павлова the famous Russian ballerina, we would ask "Кто такая Анна Павлова?".

You would only use "Кто такой/Кто такая" when the person's name is included in the question. For any other question where you are asking "who?", you would use "Кто?".

Exercise 1: You now know the words for quite a few professions. Make a list and quiz your friend Sara about them.

Exercise 2: After Sara is bored of the game you pull out a magazine from America and she asks you about the people in it. Try to add in people with Russian, English, American, and Canadian nationalities.

Lesson: Russian patronymic and last names.

The patronymic name is the child's fathers first name in masculine or feminine form. Say that 5 times fast!

For Example, if your name was Петров and your fathers name was Ибан, your full first name and patronymic name would be Петров Ибанович ("son of Ivan"). This is what you would call your self during your adulthood unless you were extremely familiar with someone. If your name was Натадья and your fathers name was Петров, your full first name and patronymic name would be Натадья Петровна ("daughter of Peter"). When giving your name as an adult, you would always use both your full first name (no longer the diminutive) and your patronymic.

The patronymic name, or "отчество", is formed from the father's first name and adding -ович or -евич for males and -овна or -евна for females.

Last names are masculine and feminine so they change slightly if you are a boy or a girl. If Петров Ибанич Павлов had a daughter and a son, their last names would be Павлов (son) and Павлова (daughter). Most last names you would simply add an "a" to the end for the females, however, some last names have an adjective ending (ой, ий, or ый) and therefore would have the feminine adjective ending of "ая".

Practice makes perfect

You are still at the party but Иван has disappeared. You can't find him anywhere and now you will have to introduce yourself to people at the party.

You're feeling slightly better after having to throw up for a half hour, but you can't remember what he told you their names were.

You take a deep breath and walk over to one of the girls and ask "Как вас зовут?" (kak vas zobyt?) (How you called?).

You are using the formal version of "you" which is "вас". If this were someone that was younger than you, you would use the informal which is "тебя" (teba) or "Как тебя зовут?".

She smiles and answers "Меня зовут Сара, а вас?" (meenia zovoot Sara, a vas?) (Me called Sara, and you?)

You reply "Меня зовут (and say your name), очень приятно" (meenia zovoot... , oichen pre-yat-no) (Me called ..., nice to meet you).

Now go and introduce yourself to others at the party. Go on, don't be shy!

Lesson: Asking someone's name.

Your friend Иван has had it.

Already you are so drunk you can't remember any one's name, let alone what their hobbies are.

You look over at the group of girls and point to one. You ask "Как её зовут?" (kak yeyo zovoot?)
The translation for this is more "How she called?" not "What is her name?"

Иван rolls his eyes but answers "Её зовут Таня" (She called Tania). (yeyo zovoot Tania)

You then point to one of the boys and ask "Как его зовут?" (How he called?). (kak evo zobyt?)

Иван answers you hoping this will be the last of the questions "Его зувот Игор" (He called Игор).

You take another shot of vodka and are finding that you are having troubles remebering anything at all. You decide maybe you should start from the begining so you ask "Как их зовут?" (kak ich zovoot?) (What they called?)

Exercise 1: Answer your own question using the "Их зовут ..." and listing off the names of people at the party.
Exercise 2: Practice asking Иван what individual peoples are names are by using "Как его зовут?" and "Как её зовут?". Answer the question for Иван.

Practice makes perfect

You go to a party with your friend Иван. He knows you don't know many people so he wants to introduce you to his friends. He is secretly hoping that someone else will start hanging out with you because you are constantly annoying him with your lack of vocabulary.

You walk into the party and everyone is standing around listening to music and talking. Иван see's that you are nervous so he points out each girl and tells you their names. Knowing how inquisitive you are he makes sure to add in their interests and nationalities (mostly he is trying to avoid your embarrassingly English sounding accent).

1. Make a list of 5 girls names and 5 boys names and decide their nationality and their interest. If you are feeling confident make sure to add a word about quality to the sentece. Pretend you are Иван and introduce them.

Example: "Сара - это плохая английская балерина"

By now you have had some vodka and are feeling a little out of sorts. You want to meet these people but you can't quite remember everything he told you about them.

2. Ask questions about the people you are about to meet. Give Ivan's answers and remember you are drunk! So make sure to get a few wrong once and awhile.

Example: "Сара - это хорошая балерина?"

...and then give Иван's answers

Example: "Нет, плохая" or "Нет, это плохая балерина".

And so on.

Lesson: Russian first names

Russian first names are masculine and feminine just like adjectives.

Russians have full first names and also what is known as a diminutive first name (which is a form of their full first name).

A Russian's name will change as they age.

On an official birth certificate would be a new baby's full first name.

Her mother would likely call her by an endearing form for her whole life (this is like a pet name).
When the child goes to school she is called by a diminutive name by her teacher and classmates.

To complicate things more, when her friends get to know her better they call her by a pejorative form (this is like a nick name but is just a different form of the diminutive).

In higher grades she will likely be called by her full name by teachers (or her last name only). Her friends still use the diminutive.

She will be called by her full name when she is an adult, and probably occasionally called by the endearing form, what her mother called her, by her husband.

The same goes for male children.

Some Russian first names and their diminutive forms:

Masculine names:

Андрей/ Андрюша
Борис/ Боря
Виктор/ Витя
Григорий/ Гера
Иван/ Ваня
Михаил/ Миша
Сергей/ Серёжа
Юрий/ Юра

These names do not have a special diminutive form; Игорь, Максим, Олег.

Feminine names:

Александра /Саша
Анна /Аня
Валентина / Валя
Екатерина /Катя
Елена /Лена
Ирина /Ира
Мария /Маша
Ольга /Оля
София /Сотя
Татьяна /Таня

These names do not have a special diminutive form; Вера, Мариня, Нина.

Lesson: Adjectives of Nationality and Quality

So let's say you want to sound a little more interesting when you are talking to your friend Иван.
You suspect he's been trying to avoid you lately, and besides, you're tired of just pointing at people and asking if they are a basketball player or not.

What you really want to know is if certain people are good basketball players, and if they are Russian or Canadian (you can't help it if you're nosey).

What you need to do is learn some adjectives!

Adjectives describing quality:

masculine /feminine - English translation

хороший /хорошая - good
неплохой /неплохая - not bad
плохой /плохая - bad
известный /известная - famous

очен - very (this can be used with any adjective)

Adjectives always agree with the word they are describing. You have to be really careful of which ending (masculine or feminine) you are using depending on who/what you are talking about/to. Since all Russian adjectives agree with the noun used, if you were using the masculine version of a noun to describe a female (for example: композитор), all of the adjectives ( for example: хороший) would be in masculine form.

Take a moment to look at the adjectives listed in this post. The masculine words have the endings ий, ый, or ой. The feminine words all end in ая. Russian words can look really long and complicated but memorizing and recognizing these types of endings makes it a lot easier to learn.

Adjectives describing nationality:

These words aren't capitalized in Russian the way they would be in English.

русский /русская - Russian
канадский /канадская - Canadian
американский /американская - American
английский /английская - English

Most dictionary's only list the masculine form of words. Eventually you need to be able to convert these words to the feminine and even neuter versions (which we will learn another time so stop sweating!!).

You and Иван are hanging out in at a local rec center. You know that guy standing over there is a basketball player (because you've now asked him about a dozen times right?) but you don't know if he is Russian. You turn to Иван and ask "Это русский баскетболист?" (remember to raise the inotation for the word русский because that is what you are specifically asking about).

Иван answers "Да, русский" or "Нет, канадский"

You nod but are still curious about the guys skills so you ask "Это хороший русский баскетболист?"

Иван, thankful that you are asking him something different for a change, answers "Да, очен хороший" or "Нет, не хороший, а плохой".

You see how much better conversation can be with just a few adjectives?! But don't go booking a flight to Moscow just yet comrade...


Here are your 5 new vocabulary words, try to write them out as many times as you can. If you are having troubles reading them at all you should go back and review the alphabet. I can't stress how much easier it is when you actually take the time to learn it.

астронав (astronavt) - astronaut
балерина (balerrrrrina) - ballerina (female only)
господин (gospodin) - Mr.
госпожа (gospozha) - Ms.
доктор (i think you can figure this one out yourself, can't you?) - Dr. or Doctor (in titles)