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14 posts • Page 1 of 1
is it safe to speak russian in east europe. i read that some countries take an offense to russian language because of being forced to speak the language in the past and denouncing their own language.
so again i asked if it was okay to speak it in ukraine, poland, serbia, bulgaria. you name it.
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I applaud you for asking this question. It shows that you're increasingly aware of these types of cultural issues.
I think it also depends how you approach someone. If you learn the phrase "Excuse me, do you speak Russian?" in their native language, and then only speak Russian to them after that, then they will probably react more positively than if you just walk up to them and start speaking Russian to them. And many people in Eastern Europe don't even understand Russian anymore (of course, many also still do).
The eastern European country where people are least likely to understand Russian is Hungary because Hungarian is not a Slavic language, so Russian is far more difficult for a Hungarian than it is for say a Pole. Most young people in Hungary don't understand Russian because they only study English, French, or German in school. Some of the older people might remember a little Russian, and then there are people who have a BA in Russian and used to be Russian teachers, but later retrained as English or German teachers. So the short answer is that people don't resent Russian in Hungary, but most simply don't speak it. You're better off speaking English or German in Hungary.
When I spent a summer in the Czech Republic, the Czechs seemed to be surprisingly positive about Russian people and the Russian language.
But basically, people are much more likely to know English, French, or German in the eastern European countries which are west of Ukraine. But in Ukraine and in the countries further east (Georgia, Azerbaijan, etc.), most people probably still speak Russian.
A subset of tough guy nationalists in Ukraine will pound you for speaking Russian. Also, be careful speaking it in the Baltic states and in Georgia if you value your health.
South Eastern Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are still OK with Russian as would be most Central Asian countries. Moldova is still OK for the most part. Orthodox countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia will understand you and it will be safe. Western Ukraine is patchy and people have been spat at for speaking Russian there although not at the Marriott. In the city where I was born, the Russian cultural center has been ransacked in a pogrom style but it seems that now the anti Russian sentiment has been going down. Russian is still used as a lingua franca in many places and people are beginning to understand that it is a means of communication rather than a hated colonial language. As far as the Baltic countries go, now there is more English there than Russian so in Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius you should be able to get by with English.
The Czech republic, Hungary, Poland, etc. are non Russian speaking.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
True, but there also always exceptions, and these often vary by age.
For example, in Finland, most of the older people still remember the Winter War in which they successfully kept the Russians from invading their country, so most of them don't like Russians. But young people tend to be more forgiving because they didn't live through any wars against the Russians.
And there are always a few Finns who study Russian, so obviously those Finns aren't biased against the Russians. I met a Finnish girl in Prague who was a Russian major and she was pretty cool.
And the small percentage of Finns who are Orthodox probably also feel a bit more warmly about Russia.
I speak Russian as a native speaker but I am very mindful about where I use it. It can evoke some dangerous reactions. Even here in the Philippines once I had an unpleasant incident. I was with a Russian girl in a restaurant and we we talking and suddenly some guy who looked like an undercover agent or something turned around and gave us a look- one of those looks that could kill. I never saw so much hatred in a person's eyes. He then got on the phone as we were walking out and started calling probably his superiors talking in Tagalog in a very very serious tone. Scary.
On some occasions even in the US, Russian speakers were kicked out of public places- I knew two girls who were not even from Russia but were Russian- speaking and there was some kind of thing with Russia on TV- some invasion or something, these were kicked out of a gym by the owner. Some others got hateful phone calls of the " get out of our country" variety. One Russian immigrant lady in Vermont was killed by a " patriot" in 1983, I went there in 1984 and it was still in the news as there was a trial of the guy for the murder. In a country with a couple of hundred million guns that had been taught to hate Russia for a century, speaking Russian in public is not a good idea. Almost as bad as speaking Hebrew on the streets of Riyadh.
Loudly talking in Russian, German, Arabic, Japanese, etc and even English may not be a a wise thing to do depending on where you may be. I tried to avoid English in Saudi in 2003. You could get killed there at that time if you spoke English. Some guys did.
Last edited by ladislav on September 26th, 2011, 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
OKAY wHOA....Alot of responses. ummmm...hmmmm....i still don't know which country i want to live in. i would like east europe or scandonavia.
so its safe to speak russian in bulgaria or serbia. I LOVE THOSE PLACES. very very good women there. i FEEL something when i am speaking to them on the internet. very good friends from those places that are women.
so if i want to go to ukraine i should just learn ukrainian. if i want to go to poland i should learn polish.
please continue with more advice.
English is widespread in Poland from what I understand. Brits living there do quiet well with only English, still please learn some Polish if you want to go there; but Catholic Poland is not a good country for picking up girls. Russian will do in Ukraine because in the Catholic, Ukrainian speaking West you would not score well, no one does, even Ukrainians. Same as going to Ireland women-wise. In the East/Center/South, people speak Russian but of a Ukrainian variety kind of like Irish people speak Irish style English. And that is where the women are.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
However, there is a resurgence of interest in Russian in Hungary. The amount of Hungarian students interested in learning Russian is still fairly small, but is growing. At all of the high schools I have taught at here, there were non-credit Russian lessons in the late afternoon for interested students. I've even seen Hungarian students perform Russian dances here and nobody got pissed off, so times are changing...
You would giggle if you heard a Hungarian teenager speaking Russian with a Hungarian accent! It's sort of like listening to Italians speak Russian because they insert lots of vowels to make the consonants easier for them.
The nation that the Hungarians have the most problems with is their northern neighbor Slovakia. I think you're 100 times more likely to get beat up in Hungary for speaking Slovakian than for speaking Russian! Whereas Russia is sort of just a distant fantasy place to modern Hungarians like the UK also is to them.
The answer is "no." In countries like Czech Rep or (Eastern) Germany, very few young locals will speak it anyway. In the Ukraine I spoke English, but only used Russian when absolutely necessary - like buying food from a market. At least the seller could understand me & since I was obviously NOT a native Russian & spoke it not fluently, I never got "dirty looks" or worse.
However, being able to read Russian was useful in countries like the Ukraine and Serbia where many signs are in Russian. I studied Russian for 2 years, so I guess I have an intermediate knowledge, but my grammer was horrible.
If you don't know any Russian, or are asking phrases from a silly guide book (which is dumb as the person will answer the question in Russian & you won't have a clue what they mean) your best to forget trying to speak it anyway.
"Woman is a violent and uncontrolled animal... If you allow them to achieve complete equality with men, do you think they will be easier to live with? Not at all. Once they have achieved equality, they will be your masters." Cato the Elder