Friday, September 23, 2005

Lesson 4 - Alphabet and Words you Already Know

You'll be surprised how many words you would be able to recognize without studying any Russian. The words I am talking about are cognates - words borrowed from a foreign language that share a common pronunciation and meaning.The Russian version of an English word may look intimidating to you at first, but as you become familiar with the Russian characters you'll learn to recognize a cognate when you see it.

1. теннис
2. доллар
3. баскетбол
4. доктор
5. Нью-Йорк
6. Калифорния
7. бейсбол
8. университет
9. адрес
10. офис
11. футбол
12. телефон
13. бар
14. ресторан
15. такси
16. мафия


The song from the show is "Katyusha" recorded in 1938.

Расцветали яблони и груши
Поплыли туманы над рекой
Выходила на берег Катюша
На высокий берег на крутой

Выходила песню заводила
Про степного сизого орла
Про того которого любила
Про того чьи письма берегла

Ой ты песня песенка девичья
Ты лети за ясным солнцем вслед
И бойцу на дальнем пограничье
От Катюши передай привет

Пусть он вспомнит девушку простую
Пусть услышит как она поет
Пусть он землю сбережет родную
А любовь
Катюша сбережет
Пусть он землю сбережет родную
А любовь
Катюша сбережет

Расцветали яблони и груши
Поплыли туманы над рекой
Выходила на берег Катюша
На высокий берег на крутой
Выходила на берег Катюша
На высокий берег на крутой

Here's the translation for "КАТЮША" song. To find out more about the story behind the song, see this Wikipedia article I found to be very helpful.

This lesson is a day premature, but with the hurricane in the area I'd rather be safe than sorry:)


Zac said...

Great lesson Natalia.

I am curious about ъ and ь. If they have no sound, for what are they used and how does your pronunciation of a word change when you read them.

Also, is there no letter for "w" in Russian?

Natalia said...

Zac, you are ahead of me:) I'm gonna talk about Ь and Ъ signs in the next lesson. You are absolutely right about "w" ...Russian doesn't have neither letter nor sound "w". That's why Russians would write my last name 'Worthington' as 'Вортингтон' or ' Ворзингтон' ...I'll teach on 'th' as well.

Thanks for the question.

Mike said...


I just discovered your podcast and I'm excited to hear your subsequent lessons!

I took a Russian class while I was in college, but let it slide after it finished (I don't have any Russian-speaking friends so there wasn't a lot of opportunity to practice in real life). Listening to your first few podcasts has brought a lot of it back to me though, and I look forward to hearing more from you! Maybe in the next few months I can get my Russian skills out of "Плoxo" territory. :)

Do you know where I could find a good cyrilic font set online?

Natalia said...

Mike (Миша), привет!

I'm glad you found the show helpful. We'll definitely get you out of the 'плохо' territory:)

Concerning Cyrilic fonts. I believe all computers now come with preinstalled fonts. All you have to do is to add them in your Control Pannel's Regional Settings (Windows) or System Prefs --> International on a Mac. That's it. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

@mike There is a font set from Microsoft MS Webcore Fonts that is free and can be installed on Other Operatings Systems too, if you don't find simply copy the fonts from your friends Windows-Folder, they can be used on Mac and Win too

@ Наталя
the link to translation for "КАТЮША" seems to be down ;-( i'd really like to have this ;-)

there are really a LOT of words that exist in other languages too like
- пассаш
- багаш
- шоссе
- шовинизм
- шрифт
- шпритц
- штатив
many many more (just dont have the time to write them all down)

If you're looking for songtexts to be used as language learning, there is a group called Балаган Limited that makes quite entertaining but also veery interesting versions of russian folklore

Natalia said...

anonymous, thank you for pointing out that the link was broken. My guess is my host thought there was too much traffic for them to handle:)

(пассаж, багаж)

Anonymous said...

I am like Mike, and haven't studied Russian in over 10 years.

Thank you for the pod cast.

Also, I'm curious. Why are there two "L"s in доллар or two H's in теннис if cognates are phoenetic?

I'm sure it's just the rule, but I remembered Russian to be concise with regards to spelling.

Thanks again.

Natalia said...

@Anonymous above: I am glad you find this podcast helpful. To answer your question - the words are borrowed, and that explains the spelling in Russian. Although when Englishe were borrowing 'tenir' from Old French they added an 'n' (to close an open syllable)......

"...ORIGIN late Middle English tenetz, tenes [court tennis,] apparently from Old French tenez ‘take, receive’ (called by the server to an opponent), imperative of tenir."

Rob said...

I really enjoy your podcast. I am a complete beginner in Russian (because none of my schools offered it), but with the help of your podcast and reviewing the Russian Alphabet, I can read cognates, and recognize some Russian words we have already gone over.

What is hardest is realizing some words are English and I can understand them, but others are in Russian and I have no idea what they mean. Hopefully as my Russian vocabulary grows I'll be on my way to reading Russian news articles or even books!

Thank you Natalia!

Rob said...

I am a complete beginner in Russian (because it is not offered as a language), but with the help of your podcast and reviewing the Russian alphabet I can read cognates now and understand some of the words we have already gone over!

What I find confusing is that when reading Russian, some cognates are English and I understand what they mean but then I come across a Russian word that I have no idea what it's supposed to be.

Hopefully as my Russian vocabulary grows, I will be well on my way to reading Russian news articles or possibly even books!

Sarah said...

I want to thank you for this podcast. I have subscribed to your podcast and thought of it dearly, like my own little pocket teacher. I'm moving to Moscow in Augest and decided to get a head jump on learning Russian. I'm quite good at learning words and memorizing them, but when it comes to words I don't know I can't possibly sound them out even if their cognates! It's because I'm very bad at the alphabet. You are the only person that actually tells you what sound they make! It's helping me so much!

Not only that but I got very excited from the song you posted along with your podcast, Katyusha brought me right back to my childhood. I've been to Russia before and I got a little stuff animal as a present. It plays that song!!! For years I never knew what it was and then that song comes up!!! Ah, thank you so much!!! For the lesson and the song. You're doing something very unique in helping lost learners like me needing to learn Russian. I apperciate it!

Anonymous said...

Hi :)

I have been listening to the podcast for about a month, and am a complete beginner to Russian as well.

While i would prefer to take an actual course in russian at a local college, right now my work schedule will not permit that to transpire :(

I guess I am a bit of a language fanatic, having taken 5 years of spanish in school, i have since dabbled in other languages that i find intriguing, such as japanese. I seem to learn quickly for being self-taught, though i never seem to go beyond a 2nd or 3rd grade level. I hope to break that record with russian though.

The important thing i think is to supplement any program (such as podcast) with as many different sources as possible (course books, listening exercises, etc). I find your podcast to be helpful as i finally dig in and try to learn this language; one that i have always wanted to learn. Unfortunately podcast will not help with handwriting, and i hear instructors make students learn to write russian in cursive. Finding lessons on HOW to do this, even on the internet, has left me scratching my head. =/

Of a side note, the lyrics to katyusha in this lesson are not *quite* as they are recorded. I think i have a decent ear and noted two deviations. I have since found another recording online (wikipedia) and indeed, the word order WAS swapped. =)

I guess that is the beauty of russian. It is a very precise language (with the nightmarish case system) and word order really doesn't matter.

The variations i found were..
quoted: На высокий берег, на крутой
heard: На высокий, на берег крутой

quoted:Пусть услышит, как она поёт
heard: И услышит, как она поёт

maybe i am wrong, but i would like feedback. maybe my russian is not as bad as i thought for being in my 2nd month of learning '-')

once again, thanks for the awesome podcast.


isbkch said...

the mp3 is not available

Natalia said...

@isbkch: just's there

Brent said...

Sorry to do this now, I know it's 5+ years later... but just found your Podcast and want to work my way through it in order (am sure you address this later, maybe?) - But in this lesson, you cover the Russian alphabet, which is where I'm at now (learning it) and always wondered why "Ш" is not "C" as in США = USA? Same goes for USSR and CCCP ... Bit confusing for me.


Natalia said...


США = Соединенные Штаты Америки

СССР = Союз Советских Социалистических Республик

I am afraid I am a bit confused by your question. Is that what you were asking me?

Brent said...

Sorry I wasn't more clear.

"C" = S sound, as in "sun"

"Ш" = Sh sounds, as in shawl - Right?

So, I am confused why the "Ш" is used in США vs. "C"? (U.S.A.)

A further example was "USSR" - why it's CCCP - but now I see that is a different translation to Союз Советских Социалистических.



Natalia said...

"Ш" in США, because of "Штаты"

Jeanette said...

Hi Natalia -

What a great resource for people wanting to learn Russian! I have been studying on my own for many years and appreciate any free resources out there.

I have a question about your pronunciation guide. I know that some English words have variants due to regional differences/dialects, etc. -- but for me, to use the example "igloo" for the pronunciation of the Russian "i" (sorry, don't have the Cyrillic installed) seems incorrect. Most people pronounce igloo with the "short" i sound. My impression of the Russian letter is more like the "long E" sound, as in the word "eve".

The other sound I wondered about was for the Russian "O" - using "aw" in lawn as the example. I "hear" this letter in Russian as closer to a true "long o" in English - such as in "ocean"

Please enlighten me!

Natalia Worthington said...

Jeanette, I LOVE having vigilant students. You are absolutely right: 'igloo' was a poor example. It's more like 'eagle'. I'll have to change that. As far as 'ocean' and Russian 'o' ... there are a couple of nuances. I just covered Russian Accented Vowels in Lesson 25. I'll be talking more about that very soon:)