Russian Vocabulary and Phrases

Russian Phrases

The symbol [‘] denotes stress on that syllable. Knowing where stress should lie makes words much easier to pronounce.


[u] = “oo” sound as in boot              [i] = ‘ee’  sound as in see

[ai] = “i” as in “hi”                             [ui] = as in weed (or French “pfui”)

[“]  = “softens” preceding consonant. It helps to smile as you pronounce it.


English                                               Transliteration

Hello                                                Zdravst’vuitye

Hi                                                     Pree’vyet

Goodbye                                          Do’svedan’ya

Good morning                                 Do’broe U’tro

Good afternoon                               Do’bryi Den

Good evening                                  Do’bryi Ve’cher

Thank you                                       Spasee’bo

You’re Welcome                             Pozhal’uysta

How are you?                                  Kak dela’

Good                                               Horosho’

May I?                                              Mozh’no

I am from California.                       Ya iz Kalifor’nii

Yes, No                                           Da, Nyet

This, This is                                    E’to

Peace                                                Mir

Friendship                                       Druzh’ba

My friend                                          Moi drug (male), Moya’ podrug’a (female)

Happy Birthday!                              S dnom rozhden’ia

Bless You!                                      Bud’zdorov’

One, two, three, four                       adin’, dva, tri, chetyr’e

five, six, seven                                pyat, shyest” syehm”

eight, nine, ten                                 vosyem”, dyehvyat”, dyehsyat

mature woman/grandmother   ba’bushka

mouse                                         mysh’ka

pen                                             rooch’ ka

ear                                                u’kho

Pancakes       blee nee’

Soup with beets borscht

Potatoes     kar tosh’ka

Milk            moloko’

Rice            ris

Soup: cabbage, potatoes, meat     shchee

Water        voda’

Breakfast          zav’trak

Lunch         obyed’

Evening meal oo’zhen

Rice            ris

Soup           soup  (sounds the same)

Coffee       kof’ee

Wine            veeno’

Beer           peev’a

Salt         sol

Pepper           per’yets

Sugar         sa’khar k is soft sound   

Sandwich          booter brod’ (from German butter on bread)

Bread        hleb

Meat         mya’so

Fish           reeb’a

Juice      sok

Tea           chai   i is a long sound

Cake          tort


Phrases by situation:

Very Pleased                                O’chen Priyat’no

Thank you very much                    Bolsho’ye Spasee’bo

I don’t understand                          Ya ne pohnima’yu


To peace!                                      Zah mir’!

To health!                                       Na zdor ovi’e

To peace and friendship!             Zah mir’ i druzh’bu

Live in Peace and Harmony        Budem Zhit Mir’no


Key Question words

Where?                                           Gdye’?

What?                                             Chto?

Who?                                              Kto



I am an American.                         Ya amerikan’yets.

And I am a Russian.                      A ya rus’skii.

What is your name?                      Kak vass zohvut’?

My name is Mary.                         Myenya’ zohvut’ Mer’i.

This is my friend, John.                 Eto moi droog, John.

Please come                                 Poidyem’tye pozhal’uista

We’ll shoot the cannon                 Mui vui’strelim iz pu’shki.

This is a Charleyville musket        Eto mushket’ Char ‘livill

That is a cannon                            Eto poosh’ka

The Russians lived here               Zdyes jhi’li russ’kiye

   for thirty years                          tri’dtsat lyet.

Here they hunted                           Zdyes oni’ okhot’ilis

   sea otters                               na mor’skuu vy’dru (sea otter – mor’skaya vy’dra)

I came here from Alaska               Ya priex’al suda’ iz Alya’ski

What’s for dinner?                         Shto na u’zhin?

When do we eat?                          Kogda’ mi bu’dem est’


Russian American Company Vocabulary –

Albion, New Albion: Term used by Russians to refer to Northern California.

Americans: When used by Russians, refers to American natives.

Arroba:  Spanish measure, equivalent to 1/4 quintal, 25.3 pounds.

Artel’: Russian. A party of men organized under a leader on cooperative lines for work, hunting,    harvesting, fishing, etc.

Arshin: Russian linear measure: 28 inches

Ba’bushka: older woman or grandmother

Baidara:  A large boat

Baidarka:  A kayak. Smaller than a baidara, enclosed, with open hatches for one, two or three persons. The Russian American Company  generally used the two-hatch baidarka for hunting, and the three-hatch for transport and exploration. Both are very light and maneuverable craft, easily righted if overturned, propelled with paddles .

Baidarshchik: Has various meanings: baidara construction supervisors, baidara crew overseer, baidara crew, steersman or owner.

Borscht: soup with beets

Charka:  Glassful, cupful. 10 charka = 2.16 pints.

Chernozem – Black soil.

Chervonets – Russian currency; a 10-ruble banknote or gold piece.

Chetvert’ – Russian measure for dry goods; one chetvert of wheat equalled 49 pounds.

Chief Manager – In Russian, glavnyi pravi’tel

Condorina – Spanish; small gold coin.

Creole – Term used by Russians to refer to a person of mixed Russian and native blood. They were often educated, trained and employed by the Russian American Company in various capacities.

Doro’ga – road

Desiatina – Russian land measure: 2.7 acres.

Fanega – Spanish grain measure: 0.9 pound; .41 kilogram.

Funt – Russian measure; 0.9 pound; .41 kilogram.

Governing Board – In Russian, glavnoe pravlenie.

Iukola – Siberian term for dried fish, generally salmon, used as a staple in the diet.

Kaiur – A native worker hired or drafted for service by the Russians.

Kalga – Kolosh (Tlingit) term for slave.

Kamleik’a – A circular waterproof garment made of cured sea mammal gut. Worn in cold or rainy weather, and when hunting at sea. Worn alone or over other garments.

Kartosh’ka – potatoes

Kazhim – Communal living quarters; men’s barracks for Aleuts, Eskimos or Indians.

Kekur – Siberian term for a cliff or headland jutting out into the sea; in Alaska, a perpendicular cliff just off shore.

Kolosh – Russian term for Tlingit Indians.

Kopeika – 1/100 ruble; about 1/2 cent U.S. in 19th century.

Kot – (with a long ‘o’) Male cat

Kosh’ka – Female cat

Lavtak – Cured and processed seal or walrus hide, used to make baidaras and baidarkas.

Malako’ – Milk 

Mar’ki – Russian colonial currency, scrip.

Mednovtsi – Russian term for Copper River Indians.

Mor’skaya Vy’dra – Sea Otter.

Office Administrator – In Russian, pravitel kontory.

P.A.K. – Rossiisko-Amerikanskaia Komoaniia (Russian American Company) R.A.C.)

Phratry – Clan divisions, also the animal or other sign under which such a clan is recognized, such as wolf phrarty, raven phrarty, etc. Here applied to Kolosh.

Platok’ – cloth worn on a woman’s head, tied under the chin

Prika’shchik – In medieval Russian, Muscovy and later in Siberia, an official of the prikaz, i.e., administrative department. In Alaska, a special agent employed by the Russian American Company, or the supercargo on a ship.

Promysh’lennik – Russian term for fur trapper and trader, especially in Siberia and subsequently in Russia’s American colonies.

Pud – Russian measure of weight: 36.11 pounds; 16.38 kilograms.

Quintal – Spanish measure: four arrobas, 101.2 pounds.

R.A.K. – Rossiiski-Amerikanskaia Kompaniia.

Real – Spanish coin, silver.

Reaumur thermometer – A thermometer used in the 18th century; 80 degrees indicates the freezing point of water and 80 degrees the boiling point.

Rovduga – Siberian term for a reindeer hide used for barter. See zamshcha.

Ruble – Russian coin or banknote. In the early 19th century, one ruble equalled U.S. $.50.

Santim – Centime.

Saran’a – The Kamchatka lily bulb, used for food.

Sazhen – Russian linear measure: 7 feet; 2.13 meters.

Shchee – a soup made of cabbage, potatoes, and meat.

Sitka – In the context of this book, refers to the island then known as Sitka, presently named Baranov Island.

Toion – A Yakut word meaning “leader.” The Russians applied the term to Siberian tribal elders of large Koriak, Chukchee and Kamchadal tribes, and similarly to Aleuts and American Indians. The word is not native to any of these peoples.

Tolkushka – Food prepared by natives of Siberia and Alaska consisting of dried meat or fish, fat and dried berries or roots; pemmican.

Voda’ – water

Vara – Spanish measure: 33 inches.

Vedro’ – Russian liquid or grain measure

Vershok – Russian measure: 1.75 inches.

Zima’ – winter