Borrowed words in Russian, part 3

with 8 Comments

It’s official. We might not need to learn any more new words in Russian.

If what’s been appearing on the internet lately is for real, you can take an English word, Russian it up a little bit, and you’re good to go. For example, the IT guy becomes айтишник. (Really??)

Take a look for yourself…









Those are all from one website, which I follow solely because they constantly use these kinds of words. You might think it’s just this website that’s guilty of this, but nope. Let’s go on…






Trash is from a friend who, if asked, will tell you she doesn’t speak any English. The others are a Russian news site and a Ukrainian blogger. To me, this shows that English within Russian is waaaaaaay more extensive then we think. Remember in your very first Russian class, when the teacher promised that you’ll get a few freebie words like компьютер and студент? But what about ноу хау, хэппи бёздэй, and уик-енд? It turns out there’s an entire WORLD of things we can use English for. But I say this with a few reservations:

  • Maybe it’s like swear words. If you’re not a native speaker, you’re just not going to sound cool saying it. Which leads to the next point…
  • When I was just starting to learn Russian, I had a coworker from St Petersburg. I’d encountered the word собеседование, interview, and could not pronounce it. The sounds kept getting all tangled up in my mouth. Finally I just started saying интервью, which I’d hear Russian speakers say before. This coworker was not having any of that, though. If she heard me use интервью, she’d get all snippety and tell me the correct word was собеседование and only собеседование. I suspect she would have the same reaction upon hearing фэшн instead of мода or мейк ап instead of макияж.
  • Sometimes there’s just not a good equivalent in Russian. We do this all the time in English- je ne sais quoi, anyone? So I get it, because really, how would you say хасл хард using Russian words? Работай сильно sounds like it’s coming from a government official or a factory boss.
  • The big question, then, is why плиз instead of пожалуйста? Why трак instead of грузовик? And why do Russian speakers always, always, always say сорри?


Another fascinating (and perhaps easier-to-understand) linguistic quagmire is the world of the “Russian community”. My in-laws have lived in these communities in four different American states now, because seriously, wherever you go, there’s likely already a Russian community there. The communities they’ve lived in are close-knit, usually religious, and most people over 30 don’t speak English very well. Everyday life still happens in Russian, but it’s really interesting how the English language creeps in there. When we’re in that setting and an English word appears, I’m not sure if it’s actually used in Russian or if it’s just something people have picked up from living in the US. There’s a funny comedy sketch about this topic- Два эмигранта в США. I haven’t heard anyone say хау ду ю дуешь? … yet! … but here are a few things I have seen from local Russian speakers.








What do you think? Will we soon be talking like this? 😉






PS: There’s more?!

13 borrowed words in Russian

More borrowed words in Russian

Borrowed words in Russian, part 4

Ват из ит?

8 Responses

  1. J.T.
    | Reply

    I don’t know how I feel about this… I mean, part of the reason I was drawn to learning Russian was its distinct non-English sound and spelling… A little English influence is fine. But now I’m getting books like this:

    • J.T.
      | Reply

      Oh no! My coding was ruined! Anyway, it was supposed to include the cover of a Russian book titled Ху из мистер Путин? by Dmitry Terekhov.

  2. Katherine
    | Reply

    Hi J.T.! Haha, that is such a strange title! :p Is that on the to-read list?

    I’ve noticed the names of a lot of restaurants, etc here in Nizhny are either written in latin letters or they’re actual English words, like a hamburger place called “Butcher” or a club called “The Penthouse”. The girl who is showing me around the city is really frustrated with these kinds of things. Her feeling is- this is Russia, we should be using the Russian alphabet and Russian words.

    But yet, when we were taking pictures, I said “себяшка” and she scoffed at that and insisted the word was “селфи”, so…

  3. J.T.
    | Reply

    Not sure if ‘Ху из мистер Путин?’ will go on the to-reads list. I have a feeling it’s just going to be like, “Мистер Путин из зе президент оф Россия. Хи хаз бин ин поэр фор сикстин ерс.”
    ‘The girl who is showing me around the city is really frustrated with these kinds of things. Her feeling is- this is Russia, we should be using the Russian alphabet and Russian words.
    But yet, when we were taking pictures, I said “себяшка” and she scoffed at that and insisted the word was “селфи”, so…’

    Yep, I’m about as confused as you appear to be.
    Watch – by the time I complete my language study in a few years I’ll be speaking an entirely different version of Russian from the contemporary Anglicized one.

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Хаха, вери гуд! We could always make a preemptive strike and just start leaving comments like this already :p

      • J.T.

        Yeah! Лец ду ит!

  4. […] Borrowed words in Russian, part 3 […]

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