While for Russians, the Russian language is an endless source of pride, for many foreigners it is a cruel puzzle and a mystery behind the seven seals: learning the cases, times, spelling and hundreds of subtleties can take years, even decades. The author of the "Lingvoshutki" TV channel Elena especially for us, tells what confuses and baffles foreigners when they study the language of Pushkin.

1. In Russian, sock - is not a sock.

English speakers may complain about the paradox, but it seems to us that we have a good mnemonic rule.

2. It can be difficult to understand handwriting in Russian,

even for an experienced school teacher who has been checking dictations for years, let alone an untrained foreigner. "Russian Propscript".

3. Participates Russian.

It is easy for a native speaker to get confused by all these "-with", and to imagine what it is like for foreign speakers, especially when the word is written in Latin. For example, when Lewis Carroll, on his way to Russia, spoke to an English compatriot who lived in St. Petersburg for 15 years, among his main impressions of the country, his companion named Communion.

"He answered our questions with extreme kindness," Carroll wrote in his diary, "gave us many tips on what to see in St. Petersburg, how to pronounce Russian words, and painted a very bleak picture, informing us that few people speak any other language than Russian. As an example of exceptionally long words found in Russian, our companion gave the word "defending", which, if written in English letters, looks like this: zashtsheeshtshayoushtsheekhsya. This intimidating word is a form of the genitive plural of participle and means "people who defend themselves".

4. In the CIS we use smiles without eyes or nose - we often only have brackets for the tone of the message.

For some users, parentheses in correspondence have almost replaced periods: this punctuation mark after a message in a messenger looks like an indicator of irritation or offence to many, but the closing parenthesis adds friendliness and politeness. All this is clear to us Russian speakers, but foreigners may not understand what happens when they see a few parentheses at the end of a sentence: are they being deceived? Are they being made fun of? Is the interlocutor mistaken?


5. Declination of numbers.

Eight hundred rubles or eight hundred rubles? What if the rubles are not eight hundred, but eight hundred and fifty-four thousand three hundred and seventy-two? The last time the author of this article thought about how to inflect such composite figures, on the Unified State Examination of the Russian language - then they usually hammer on that and write them in figures, and if they are called out loud, then more often in the nominative case.

"Cases of plurality of parents" / "Desire to learn Russian language"
"Verbs of movement" / "Declination of numbers"

6. How does Alexander become Sasha?

According to what logic is Slava Vyacheslav and not Svyatoslav, Stanislav, Yaroslav or Vladislav? Why can one be Victor but not Vitaly? Why can the same name be reduced to Zhora and Gosha? How to know Asya's full name: Anastasia she, Anna, Agniya, Agnes or Asiya? So many questions.


7. Russian mate is a national pride and a repository of priceless treasures.

We do not limit ourselves to simple basics, but build them with the most diverse prefixes and suffixes, composing compound denotations for all occasions. But the origin of some swear words is a mystery, and if translated into another language, they end up turning into an enigma. Why run ***** and how are ***** and the excavations linked?

8. ?. The letter with which Russian words cannot begin.

The sound that drives English speakers crazy: when teaching their students how to pronounce it, teachers recommend imagining that they have been punched in the stomach. Another difficulty in learning Russian is the "soft" sign: a letter that is not pronounced, but affects others (so students do not know where "brother" and "comrade" are and where "take" and "mother" are). 

9. Why is television a boy, newspaper a girl, and radio, say, a gender issue?

Yes, there is a gender divide in many other languages, but that doesn't make it any easier for native English speakers.


10. Imagine there is a glass and a fork on the table.

The glass is upright and the fork is lying down. If you add a plate and a frying pan, they will stand with the glass. But if we put a plate in the frying pan, we'll assume it's there - well, it's not worth it. There is a logic here, of course, but Russian speakers learn it gradually, along with other linguistic subtleties, but those who study Russian as a foreigner will have to suffer from it at this stage.

11. A beautifully paradoxical and therefore classic example of how formalism affects spelling.

There is an "n" in "potatoes sautéed with mushrooms" and two "n's" in "potatoes sautéed with mushrooms". The potatoes seem to be the same, but the dependent words decide everything.

12. In Russian everything is complicated with movement verbs:

they can be unidirectional (to go, to drive, to swim, to run) and multidirectional (to walk, to drive, to swim, to run), and also the choice of the word depends on the frequency of action: "to go" is now, and "to go" - regularly. And then there are prefixes and suffixes: come, go, go, walk! Imagine what it's like for a foreigner who happily starts learning Russian and the first thing he has to do is to know how to do it.