Russian alphabet and short phrasebook
The Russian language belongs to the East Slavic group of the Indo-European family, making it a distant relative of English. Unlike English, it has lots of endings that change, making compiling a useful phrasebook particularly difficult. Although many people who deal professionally with tourists do know English, it is not generally understood and spoken as much as in other destinations. Younger people are more likely to know a little of the language. Do not expect officials to speak English; if you have to deal with them try to find someone who can interpret.
The Russian alphabet is Cyrillic (named after the 9th-century missionary monk Cyril, who was said to have invented it) and since the 1918 reform it has 33 letters, two of which are more like accents. Almost all words are spoken as they are written, although stress is very important. As many signs (e.g. in the Metro) are only in Cyrillic, you will find it a great help to familiarize yourself with the alphabet before your trip.
In the pronunciation guide the stressed syllable is marked by bold type. Alternatives in brackets are for female speakers.
|Useful words and phrases|
|где...?||Where (is the)...?||Guh-dyeh|
|зал||hall (in a museum)||zahl|