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Episode #22 – Russian Made Easy
Welcome to episode 22 of Russian Made Easy. We’ll start today by following up on the formal forms we learned last time. And then we’ll get to today’s main topic which is adjectives. How do you say that she is beautiful, or the pancakes were delicious? That’s what we’ll be working on today.
So let’s start by repeating these two words:
Ваш / Ваша
One more time:
Ваш / Ваша
Pretend you’re at work. A co-worker emerges from the meeting room, holding someone’s cellphone. He approaches his boss and asks:
Это Ваш телефон?
Later, you’re standing in the company parking lot. Your co-worker points to a Ferrari and asks your boss:
Это Ваша машина?
So the words Ваш / Ваша are two ways to say “your” in Russian. Imagine someone is showing you an apartment they think you might want to rent. Ask them, formally…
Is this your apartment?
Это Ваша квартира?
Speaking formally, ask your co-worker:
Is this your computer?
Это Ваш компьютер?
Imagine your mother-in-law cooked pizza. Speaking formally to her, say…
I love your pizza!
Я люблю Вашу пиццу.
Of course, since pizza changes to “pizzu”, the word vasha has to change to vashu, to rhyme with it.
Ваша пицца becomes вашу пиццу
And speaking of formal speech, let’s review those formal verb forms we learned in the last episode.
As you step into the company break-room to make coffee, ask your boss:
Will you have coffee?
Follow that up by asking:
Or do you want tea?
…или Вы хотитечай?
Ask a new acquaintance politely:
Do you live here, in the center?
Вы живёте здесь, в центре?
Ask them: Where do you work?
Где Вы работаете?
Tell the person:
You speak English well.
Вы хорошо говорите по-английски.
On a sidenote: The sport of baseball is a cognate in Russian. So, speaking politely, ask your Russian father-in-law:
Do you like baseball?
Offering him your computer, ask: Do you need the internet?
Ask your friend’s grandmother:
Do you have a cat?
У Вас есть кошка?
Alright. Let’s learn two new words. Here’s the first one…
What do Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum, and Beyonce have in common? Their looks, of course. Each is a very kraseevaya woman.
So, красивый is the Russian adjective meaning “beautiful” or “attractive.” You’ll notice, though, I said each is a very kraseevAYA woman. I was using the feminine form. So say…
She is beautiful.
This is a beautiful apartment.
Это красивая квартира.
And now here’s the other adjective we want to learn:
One more time:
I love the taste of borscht. I think it’s such a вусный soup.
So the word вкусный is the Russian adjective meaning delicious or tasty.
This is delicious pizza.
Это вкусная пицца.
Say: This is delicious tea.
Это вкусный чай.
And let’s add one very useful word. Listen and repeat:
If you really like the pizza, you’d say:
Это очень вкусная пицца.
If you really like the tea, you’d say:
Это очень вкусный чай.
So, ochin is the Russian word for “very”. We’re saying, this is VERY delicious pizza. This is very delcious tea. And notice that the word does NOT change, no matter how it’s being used. For example:
I want VERY tasty pizza.
Я хочу очень вкусную пиццу.
The adjective had to change, to rhyme with pizzu, right? We heard “fkusnuyu pizzu”, but the word “very” — that word “ochin” is an adverb, and adverbs don’t change in Russian.
V.O. And now, here’s your Tip of the Day from Russian Made Easy…
The point of today’s tip is this: Grasping the meaning of a word is NOT an all or nothing thing. Our understanding of a word is a continuum, from having absolutely no clue what a word means at one end, to fully understanding it at the other end.
The best way to demonstrate this is with two new words. Listen and repeat this first one:
Imagine a farmer sitting on that little wooden stool beside his cow. He’s pulling on her udders, and the liquid that comes out of them is of course called moloko.
Or this example:
Each morning I fill my cereal bowl with cornflakes and pour 1% moloko over them.
You probably feel very confident about what moloko is.
But now here’s our next word: галстук
Say it one more time. галстук
Pretend someone asked me what I did yesterday. I tell them, “Nothing really. I went to the mall to buy a new galstuk. Thrilling, eh?”
So, do you know what a galstuk is?
You’re probably thinking, I have no idea. You can buy anything at the mall.
But as I said, meaning isn’t an all or nothing thing. I mean, tell me, is galstuk the Russian word for ‘winter’? Is it the Russian word for “cautious”?
No? How can you be so sure? Didn’t you just tell me that you have absolutely no idea what the word galstuk means?
Do you see? Understanding the meaning of a word is a continuum. With the word galstuk, you’re somewhere in the middle. But maybe you know even more about it than you think.
Is it the word for octopus? Well, no….an octopus isnt something you normally buy at the mall.
Ok, then…Do you think it’s the word for “plasma TV”? Probably not, because of the guy’s sarcasm about it. Remember he added, “Pretty thrilling, eh?” So a galstuk is some unexciting thing men buy at the mall. We’re not 100% sure what it is, but we know a whole lot more than “absolutely nothing” about the word.
What’s funny is, people think….Man, learning a foreign language is gonna be scary. It seems like you’re always going to be in this haze, never 100% sure what some new word means. And I’ll admit, it’s kinda like that at first, but as you get more experience, things just become clearer and clearer.
But the other thing is: It’s like that for you in English, too. Tell me, do you know what the word erudite means? You probably know it’s kinda related to the word smart, but it might be hard for you to rattle off the actual dictionary definition. And yet it doesn’t bother you much when you encounter the word in some newspaper article, does it? So again the tip is to know that meaning is not an all or nothing thing. It’s ok…it’s normal…to only kinda know what some words mean.
Alright, so…How do you say:
I have a beautiful girlfriend.
У меня есть красивая девушка.
Tell your girlfriend, with three words:
You are very beautiful.
Ты очень красивая.
Try saying: This is very tasty caviar.
Это очень вкусная икра.
Now, in today’s tip, we just learned the new word moloko. And that brings up today’s other main topic. So far in the course we’ve talked only about masculine nouns and feminine nouns. But in Russian there’s one other type we need to learn, and that’s neuter nouns. Those are ones, like pivo and moloko which end in an “o.” Now I know it doesn’t sound like it, but pivo does end with the letter “o.” There are other neuter nouns, but for now I just want to talk about these “o” ending ones.
Now listen to how the speaker will say:
This is tasty milk.
Это вкусное молоко.
He was using the neuter form of the adjective. So try saying:
This is delicious beer.
Это вкусное пиво.
The difference between the feminine version and the neuter version of that adjective is very subtle. Listen to them side by side:
female version = вкусная
….and the neuter version = вкусное
But the real difference comes when we do something to the words, because only the feminine ones change. Compare:
I want a tasty pizza.
Я хочу вкусную пиццу.
Npw say: I want a tasty beer.
Я хочу вкусное пиво.
<spa/spann style=”font-size: large;”>Do you see? That pair of “fkusnaya pizza” had to change to “fkusnuyu pizzu,” because we were doing something to the pizza.
But since the word pivo is netuer, because it has that O at the end, it doesn’t have to change, and so its adjective doesn’t change either. вкусное пиво
You can see why I waited until Podcast 22 to discuss this stuff. It can start to feel overwhelming. But, it’s no big deal. We’ll get lots of practice with it, and soon enough you won’t even pause to think about it. So just kind of hang in there for now.
Ok, let’s learn one final new word today. This one’s a classic. And as I mentioned at the end of the last podcast, it’s a must-know word if you ever travel to Russia or Ukraine. So listen and repeat:
It’s a neuter word. That last letter is an O. One more time…
So, what is salo? Well, imagine a slice of raw bacon….and then cut away all the meat. What’s left is salo. So, salo — a delicacy in Russia and Ukraine — is raw pig fat. And they eat it in big, thick chunks.
And remember, since it ends in an “o”, it won’t change when we do something to it. So, imagine you’re sitting at the table with some Russian co-workers. You haven’t touched your raw pig fat that you were served, so your co-worker asks politely:
You don’t want the pig fat?
Вы не хотите сало?
Say: No, I don’t want pig fat.
Нет, я не хочу сало.
Add: I don’t like raw pig fat.
Мне не нравится сало.
Then again, maybe you tried the salo and you really liked it. So say…
This is delicious pig fat!
Это вкусное сало!
Alright. That was a lot of new stuff we learned. So otry to make a point this week of working with those two new adjectives we learned, and be sure to get the downloads for today’s exercises. Next time we’ll get some great practice switching between casual and formal speech. That’s something that can drive new students of Russian crazy. And we’ll also discover another one of the biggest mistakes that language learners make.
Until then, I hope you’re doing well. I’ll see you next time!
For those of you reading this transcript…Remember that word we heard in today’s tip? Where I said, I went to the mall to buy a galstuk?
What’s a ГАЛСТУК?
Well, I hate having to wear a suit and galstuk to work each morning.
A галстук (galstuk) is a (man’s) tie.
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