Dialogue - Russian

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Vocabulary

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здравствуйте zdrastvuyte hello
приятно priyatna nice, pleasant
очень ochen' very, very much, really
просто prosta simply, just
как kak, kaka how
меня зовут menya zavut my name (is)
конечно konechno of course, certainly
познакомиться paznakomitsa to meet, to get acquainted, to get to know (someone)
c s with
можно mozhna it's allowed to, can, may, it's possible to
извините izvinite excuse me, I am sorry, pardon
тоже tozhe too, also

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of This Lesson is Asking Permission and Self-Introductions
Меня зовут Вероника. А как Вас зовут?
"My name is Veronika. What's your name?"


Можно(mozhna) - "Can I"


Можно (mozhna) is a universal word for asking or giving permission. The best thing about this word is that you can use it without any pronouns. For example, the phrases "Can I..." and "Is it okay to..." both need the pronouns "I" or "it" to go with them. Moreover, in English, you also need the auxiliary verb "is" to form a question like "is it okay to...." In Russian, we don't need either. We form all questions like "Can I...? / "May I...?" / "Is it okay to...?" / "Is it allowed to...?" and "Is it possible to...?"  with only one word in the beginning of a sentence: можно.

For Example:

  1. Можно войти? 
    Mozhna vayti?
    "Can I come in?"
  2. Можно курить?
    Mozhna kurit'
    "Is it okay to smoke?"

Познакомиться (paznakomitsa) - "to get acquainted"


We can translate Познакомиться  (paznakomitsa) as "to get acquainted" or "to get to know each other"; therefore, we can use it with or without the preposition "with" (s). In our case, it's "to get acquainted with you" (познакомиться с Вами, paznakomitsa s Vami). The word order is very flexible in Russian; you can put c Вами (s Vami - "with you") before or after познакомиться.

Меня зовут (menya zavut) - "I am called"


Меня зовут (menya zavut) literally means "I am called" but we translate it into English as "my name is". The simpler and more informal way to introduce yourself would be Я (ya) + name.

For Example:

  1. Меня зовут Вероника.
    Menya zavut Veranika.
    "My name is Veronika."


We translate "Как Вас зовут?" (kak Vas zavut), literally, "How are you called?" as "What's your name?" The more informal way to ask a name would be using a different word for "you", the informal "you," which is тебя (tebya).

For Example:

  1. Как тебя зовут?
    Kak tebya zavut?
    "What's your name?"

Можно просто (mozhna prosta) - "It's okay simply"


Можно просто (mozhna prosta) literally means "it's okay simply", and we use it in the context of the English "you can call me". Almost all Russian names have short forms, for example, a guy named Alexander is usually called Sasha by his parents and friends. A girl named Elena is usually called Lena.

Очень приятно (ochen' priyatna) - "Very nice"


Очень приятно (ochen' priyatna) literally means "very nice", and we can translate it as "nice to meet you". There are several versions of answers to this phrase. The most informal one is мне тоже (mne tozhe - "me too").

One that is also informal but sounds more enthusiastic and intimate is мне тоже очень приятно (mne tozhe ochen' priyatna - "it's nice to meet you, too.").

Basically, the more words you say at your first meeting, the more enthusiastic about it you sound. So if you want your acquaintance to feel your enthusiasm and disposition, you can put all the words you learned in today's dialogue together and get the following phrase:

  1. Мне тоже очень приятно познакомиться, Ника!
    Mne tozhe ochen' priyatna paznakomitsa, Nika!
    "It was very nice meeting you too, Nika!"

And lastly, if you want to sound formal, polite, and well-mannered in your answer to "nice to meet you", you can say just one word.

For Example:

  1. Взаимно.
    Vzaimna.
    "Likewise."

Cultural Insights

Meeting People in Russia


Getting to know people in random places like public transportation or parks used to be very popular in Russia before, as there were very few opportunities to meet people outside of work places or universities. There were no nightclubs and very few coffee shops or restaurants in the country, most of which were quite unaffordable for common people. Nowadays, people are much more skeptical about making "street friends," although if you approach a person you liked in a gallant and intelligent way (i.e., don't scare him/her away or freak him/her out), then chances for success are still high. Asking for permission to get to know a person, just like in our dialogue, is the most common conversation starter in Russia.

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Natalia: Привет, я Natalia.
Yura: Yura here. Welcome to Absolute Beginner Season 1 Lesson 1; Meet the Russian Bilingual Fabio. This series of lessons is created especially for you to be your guide into everything Russian. But most importantly, Russian language.
Natalia: That’s right. So take our hand and don’t be afraid to make all 25 steps with us through this lesson series.
Yura: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself in Russian and ask for permission using the Russian word [можно].
Natalia: And the conversation takes place in a park.
Yura: The conversation is between two young people, Ben and Veronica who have just met.
Natalia: The speakers are strangers so they will be speaking formal Russian.
Yura: So listen to the conversation and learn how to make the most out of your trip to Russia.
DIALOGUES
Yura: Здравствуйте, извините, можно с вами познакомиться?
Natalia: Да, конечно. Меня зовут Вероника. А как вас зовут?
Yura: Бенджамин. Можно просто Бен.
Natalia: Очень приятно, Бен!
Yura: Мне тоже очень приятно!
Yura: Okay. Let’s do that one more time.
Natalia: Сейчас ещё раз, медленно.
Yura: Здравствуйте, извините, можно с вами познакомиться?
Natalia: Да, конечно. Меня зовут Вероника. А как вас зовут?
Yura: Бенджамин. Можно просто Бен.
Natalia: Очень приятно, Бен!
Yura: Мне тоже очень приятно!
Yura: Okay. One more time with natural native speed with the translation.
Natalia: Ещё раз с естественной скоростью носителя языка с переводом.
Natalia: Здравствуйте, извините, можно с вами познакомиться?
Yura: Hello, excuse me. May I get to know you?
Natalia: Да, конечно. Меня зовут Вероника. А как вас зовут?
Yura: Yeah, sure. My name is Veronica. What’s your name?
Natalia: Benjamin. Можно просто Бен.
Yura: Benjamin. You can call me Ben.
Natalia: Очень приятно, Бен!
Yura: Nice to meet you, Ben.
Natalia: Мне тоже очень приятно!
Yura: Nice to meet you too.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Yura: So it’s normal to meet people in public places in Russia, isn’t it?
Natalia: Well, it was much more popular about 20 years ago when there were almost no nightclubs or bars people could meet each other in.
Yura: How about now? Can I just come up to a girl on a bus stop and tell her, I want to meet her?
Natalia: Why not? The key is the right approach. If it’s not late night, if you’re not dressed freaky, if you’re not drunk or arrogant, then you definitely have a chance. Oh, and you should definitely start with asking for permission to get to know a person.
Yura: Yeah, I’ve heard that it’s the most common conversation starter in Russia. You won’t get no for an answer but you’ll sound polite.
VOCAB LIST
Now, let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word is.
Natalia: здравствуйте
Yura: Hello.
Natalia: здравствуйте
Yura: And the next word is.
Natalia: извините
Yura: Excuse me, I am sorry, pardon.
Natalia: извините
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: можно
Yura: It’s allowed to, can, may, it’s possible to.
Natalia: можно
Yura: And the next word is.
Natalia: c
Yura: With.
Natalia: c
Yura: And the next word is.
Natalia: познакомиться
Yura: To meet, to get acquainted, to get to know.
Natalia: познакомиться
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: конечно
Yura: Of course, certainly.
Natalia: конечно
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: меня зовут
Yura: My name is.
Natalia: меня зовут
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: как
Yura: How.
Natalia: как
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: просто
Yura: Simply, just.
Natalia: просто
Yura: And the next word is.
Natalia: очень
Yura: Very, very much, really.
Natalia: очень
Yura: And the next word.
Natalia: приятно
Yura: Nice, pleasant.
Natalia: приятно
Yura: And the next word is.
Natalia: тоже
Yura: Too, also.
Natalia: тоже
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Yura: Now let’s take a closer look at the vocabulary and phrases for this icebreaking dialogue. What’s the first word, Natalia?
Natalia: Здравствуйте, “hello”. Of course, if you want to sound more informal and casual from the very beginning, you can say "привет", which is, “hi”.
Yura: Should I consider the age picking the greeting?
Natalia: Sure. If a girl is over 20, I definitely choose "Здравствуйте" for the first greeting. Being polite has never failed anyone. Besides, girls like the gentleman approach.
Yura: Okay. Good to know. So our guy greeted a girl, now he has to explain the purpose of his intrusion into a peaceful ice cream afternoon. He starts with, “Excuse me”.
Natalia: "Извините". Actually, it means both “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” in Russian. So if that guy accidentally stepped on a girl’s foot, he’d also say "извините".
Yura: He didn’t luckily. What was his "извините" for?
Natalia: For asking whether he could get to know the girl which sounded as " можно с вами познакомиться?". Once again, "можно с вами познакомиться?".
Yura: Literally, is it okay to get to know you, right? So the first word was "можно". What does it mean, Natalia?
Natalia: "Можно" is a universal word for asking or giving permission. But we get to it later in the grammar section.
Yura: Okay. So let’s move on to the key word of the conversation. To get acquainted, to get to know each other.
Natalia: "познакомиться". So the phrase was "познакомиться с вами".
Yura: I think it was "с вами познакомиться" also.
Natalia: The word order is very flexible in Russian. You can put "c вами" with you before or after "познакомиться". It doesn’t matter actually.
Yura: Oh good. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about the word order.
Natalia: Yeah. So the girl heard your exotic foreign accent and decided not to play hard-to-get hot ticket. She says "да, конечно".
Yura: Yes, of course. She sounds quite enthusiastic for a random acquaintance.
Natalia: Moreover, she says her name right away, Меня зовут Вероника.
Yura: My name is Veronica. Меня зовут literally means, “I am called” but it’s translated into English as, “my name is.”
Natalia: Right. Next, she asks the guy’s name А как вас зовут?
Yura: Literally, “how are you called”. And it’s translated as “what’s your name”. The more informal way to ask a name would be using a different word for “you”. The informal “you” which is "тебя".
Natalia: Right, "как тебя зовут?".
Yura: What was the little "A" in the beginning? You didn’t just say, "как вас зовут?”, you said "А как вас зовут?"
Natalia: Oh, that means something like “and”. “And what’s your name?” It’s used very, very often in Russian. It’s kind of a transition word between the topics, questions, you’ll get a feeling of it very quickly.
Yura: Okay. So the guy’s name is Benjamin.
Natalia: Yes, "Можно просто Бен". "Просто" means “simply” or “just”.
Yura: Let me just add something. Almost all Russian names have short forms. For example, a guy named Alexander is usually called Sasha by his parents and friends. A girl named Elena is usually called Lena.
Natalia: Yeah, that’s right. So you’ll be hearing the phrase "Можно просто" quite a lot in Russian.
Yura: So now, they have to say how happy they are about meeting each other.
Natalia: Очень приятно
Yura: Literally, it means “very nice”. But it implies that a person is very glad to meet you. What can you answer to that?
Natalia: Мне тоже очень приятно!
Yura: "Мне тоже" means “me too”. You can actually say "мне тоже without repeating "очень приятно” again.
Natalia: Yes. You would sound very informal but "мне тоже очень приятно" sounds more enthusiastic and intimate.
Yura: So basically, the more words you say at your first meeting, the more enthusiastic about it you sound. So if you want your acquaintance to feel your enthusiasm and disposition, you can pull all the words you learned in today’s dialogue together and get the following phrase - Мне тоже очень приятно познакомиться!
Natalia: Right. But if you decided that it’s too early to get too friendly and close, moreover, you think you don’t want to do that at all.
Yura: Too many words, Natalia. If you want to sound formal, polite and mannerly in your answer to “nice to meet you”, you can say just one word - взаимно –, likewise.
Natalia: Yes. "Взаимно" works in any situation. It’s formal, polite and the most neutral reply.
GRAMMAR POINT
Yura: So let’s a closer look at the grammar in this lesson.
Natalia: The focus of this lesson is.
Yura: Asking for permission.
Natalia: Yes. And the key word here is "Можно". Можно is a universal word for asking or giving permission. It’s like, “can I” or “is it okay too”, in English. The best thing about this word is that you can use it without any pronounce.
Yura: You mean, the phrase, “can I” will go without “I” in Russian, right?
Natalia: Yes. Moreover, in English, you also need the auxiliary verb “is” to form a question like, “is it okay to?”. In Russian, we don’t need it either.
Yura: In Russian, it’s more blunt and direct, I guess. All questions like "can I", "may I", "is it okay to", "is allowed to", "is it possible to", can be formed with only one word in the beginning of a sentence - "можно".
Natalia: That’s right. I’ll give you a couple of examples to understand it better like "Можно курить?"- “Is it okay to smoke?” Or "Можно войти?", “Can I come in?”
Yura: So "можно" is the word to ask for permission, personal or general.
Natalia: Right. Next, we had one more important word, "с вами". "C" just means “with” and "вами" meant “you”.
Yura: Doesn’t “you” sound something like "вы"?
Natalia: It does. But in the sentence “можно познакомится с вами”, it’s modified. Just remember that the phrase “with you” always sounds like "с вами".
Yura: It’s formal with you, right? How does the informal version sound?
Natalia: "С тобой". So again, "с вами" – "с тобой".
Yura: Natalia, wasn’t there another phrase with “можно”?
Natalia: Yes, there was: “Можно просто Бен.”
Yura: What was that?
Natalia: It’s okay to just call him Ben. The word “можно” is something we have just learned.
Yura: But I thought it was just for asking permission?
Natalia: For asking or giving, both. In Russian, the only difference between the question and the statement is the intonation. So if you say, "можно?", that will mean, “is it okay?” But if you firmly say "можно" - that’s a statement. That means you are giving the permission.
Yura: I see. So he’s giving her permission to call him Ben.
Natalia: That’s right.
Yura: Okay. That just about does it for this lesson.
Natalia: Attention, iPhone, iPod or iPad users.
Yura: Listen, tap and swipe your way to fluency with our Russian language apps.
Natalia: Grow your vocabulary and practice on the go with Russian language applications.
Yura: Fun and easy to use. Russian apps are available on iTunes.
Natalia: Visit our iPhone page on RussianPod101.com/iPhone now to learn more.
Yura: Have a great day.
Natalia: До скорого!