русский язык (Russian Language)

Finding your way around a foreign country can be challenging; here in Belarus, the challenge is increased by the use of the Cyrillic alphabet. The letters look like this:
 Й Ц У К Е Н Г Ш Щ З Х Ъ Ф Ы В А П Р О Л Д Ж Э Я Ч С М И Т Ь Б Ю

Some of them are the same as English letters and make the same sounds: К С Т М

The vowels make familiar sounds:
Е (ye)
А (like father)
О (short o sound)
(But wait! И is the long ee and Э is also a short e.  Ы says the short i sound... augh!)

Then there are letters that look the same as English but make different sounds.
Ш says sh
В says V (but б says B)
Р says R (rolled like in Spanish) (but П says P)
Н says N
У says oo (but Й says yi)
Х says kh (sorta)
I mean that's not confusing or anything.

Then there are other letters that are totally different looking. Some make familiar sounds, and a few sounds are kinda tricky.

As we read signs, try to order food, grocery shop, etc., we have to constantly translate both the letters and the words. It's definitely "brain overload" at times!  For now, we have managed to get by with our limited vocabulary, Google Translate, pointing, guessing, and occasionally meeting someone who knows a bit of English. 

We've found that there are some words that look totally foreign, but once we sound them out it's obvious what they mean. For example if I change the Cyrillic letters into their English sounds,

пепперони пицца is pepperoni pitsa
Латте is a latte
Капучино is kapoochino (aka cappuccino)
кофе is coffee
Notice the words I know? Priorities!

Grocery shopping has been an...adventure...
Since I realized that some of the words might look crazy, but when I sound them out it's pretty obvious what they are, it has gotten a bit easier.  I'll write some more about shopping later, but here are some foods I have found that have English sounding names :

ЦЕЗАРЬ is tse-zar aka Ceasar dressing 

Кетчуп is ketch-oop (aka ketchup)

Цукаты is tsu-kar (aka sugar)

СПАГЕТТИ is spa-get-ti (aka spaghetti)

БАРБЕКЫО СОУС is bar-be-kio sa-oos (aka barbeque sauce)
(I discovered this while looking for something else, and it was super exciting! I haven't tasted it yet though...)

кефир is ke-feer (aka Kefir. I meant to buy milk, oops)

ЧЕДДЕР is ched-dyer (aka cheddar)

This has nothing to do with Russian words, but my knight in shining armor knew I couldn't go four months without peanut butter, so he searched high and low, across streams and parks, through crowded aisles to bring me the life sustaining creamy goodness of peanut butter.


  1. remember how sweet the ketchup was in Uganda? what's it like there?


Post a Comment