Page 1


9 Things Never to Say or Do in Russia Sometimes, knowing what NOT to do is even more important if you want to fit in or at least produce a good impression. Read on to find out about ten Russian social taboos. Don't come to visit empty-handed If you're invited over for dinner, or just for a visit, don't come to a Russian house with nothing. What you bring doesn't really matter — a box of chocolates, flowers, or a small toy for a child. Russian hosts prepare for company by cooking their best dishes and buying delicacies that they normally wouldn't for themselves. If, after all this effort, a guest shows up without even a flower, Russians believe he doesn't care. Don't leave your shoes on in someone's home Russian apartments are covered in rugs. Often, they're expensive Persian rugs with intricate designs, which aren't cleaned as easily as traditional American carpeting. Besides, Russians walk a lot through dusty streets, instead of just stepping from the car directly into the home. For these reasons, and also because this tradition has gone on for centuries, Russians take off their street shoes when they enter private residencies. The host usually offers a pair of tapochki (tah-puhch-kee; slippers); if you go to a party, women usually bring a pair of nice shoes to wear inside. And again, if you fail to take your shoes off, nobody will say anything. But sneak a peek: Are you the only person wearing your snow-covered boots at the dinner table? Don't joke about the parents Russians aren't politically correct. Go ahead and tell an anyekdot (uh-neek- doht; joke) based on ethnicity, appearance, or gender stereotypes; just steer clear of jokes about somebody's mother or father. You won't be understood.


Don't toast with "Na Zdorov'ye!" People who don't speak Russian usually think that they know one Russian phrase: a toast, Na Zdorov'ye! Little do they know that Na Zdorov'ye! (nuh zdah-rohv'-ee; for health) is what Russians say when somebody thanks them for a meal. In Polish, indeed, Na Zdorov'ye! or something close to it, is a traditional toast. Russians, on the other hand, like to make up something long and complex, such as, Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami! (zah droozh-boo myezh-doo nuh-roh-duh-mee; To friendship between nations!) If you want a more generic Russian toast, go with Za Vas! (zuh vahs; To you!) Don't take the last shirt A Russian saying, otdat' poslyednyuyu rubashku (aht-daht' pahs-lyed-nyuyu roo-bahsh-koo; to give away one's last shirt), makes the point that you have to be giving, no matter what the expense for yourself. In Russia, offering guests whatever they want is considered polite. Those wants don't just include food or accommodations; old-school Russians offer you whatever possessions you comment on, like a picture on the wall, a vase, or a sweater. Now, being offered something doesn't necessarily mean you should take it. Russians aren't offering something because they want to get rid of it; they're offering because they want to do something nice for you. So, unless you feel that plundering their home is a good idea, don't just take things offered to you and leave. Refuse first, and do so a couple of times, because your hosts will insist. And only accept the gift if you really want this special something, but then return the favor and give your hosts something nice, as well. Don't let a woman carry something heavy This rule may make politically correct people cringe, but Russians believe that a man is physically stronger than a woman. Therefore, they believe a man who watches a woman carry something heavy without helping her is impolite.


Don't underdress Russians dress up on more occasions than Americans do. Even to go for a casual walk, a Russian woman may wear high heels and a nice dress. A hardcore feminist may say women do this because they're victimized and oppressed. But Russian women themselves explain it this way, "We only live once; I want to look and feel my best." On some occasions, all foreigners, regardless of gender, run the risk of being the most underdressed person in the room. These occasions include dinner parties and trips to the theater. Going to a restaurant is also considered a festive occasion, and you don't want to show up in your jeans and T-shirt, no matter how informal you think the restaurant may be. In any case, checking on the dress code before going out somewhere is a good idea. Don't go dutch Here's where Russians differ strikingly from Western Europeans. They don't go Dutch. So, if you ask a lady out, don't expect her to pay for herself, not at a restaurant or anywhere else. You can, of course, suggest that she pay, but that usually rules out the possibility of seeing her again. She may not even have money on her. Unless they expect to run into a maniac and have to escape through the back exit, Russian women wouldn't think of bringing money when going out with a man. Don't overlook the elderly on public transportation When Russians come to America and ride public transportation, they're very confused to see young people sitting when an elderly person is standing nearby. They don't understand that in America, an elderly person may be offended when offered a seat. In Russia, if you don't offer the elderly and pregnant women a seat on a bus, the entire bus looks at you as if you're a criminal. Women, even (or especially) young ones, are also offered seats on public transportation. But that's optional. Getting up and


offering a seat to an elderly person, on the other hand, is a must.




to get rid of




to plunder




to insist



внешний вид




сложный, составной




родовой, общий






делать жертвой

to be considered


to oppress



владение, обладание, вещи

Intricate ['ɪntrɪkət]



ask (a lady) out

пригласить выйти в свет


rule out (of possibility)


at least

по меньшей мере

have money on (her)

иметь при себе

read on (=go on)

продолжайте читать

run into


find out





ride public transportation

ездить на общ. транспорте

оставить (на себе)

ask (a lady) out

пригласить выйти в свет


rule out (of possibility)


for these reasons

по этим причинам

have money on (her)

иметь при себе

go ahead


run into


dress up




fit in


show up

leave on

take off


ездить на общ. транспорте

сheck on


ride public transportation

produce a good impression

производить хорошее впечатлени

return the favour

вернуть услугу

Russians don’t care

русским всё равно


отпрянуть (от отвращения)


помимо этого



sneak a peek

бросьте взгляд украдкой

feel my best

чувствовать себя на высоте


на самом деле

run the risk


makes the point

считает, полагает

go dutch


no matter what

не важно что

differ strikingly

сильно разниться

on the one hand

C одной стороны

whatever they want

чтобы они не захотели

on the other hand

с другой стороны

doesn’t necessarily mean

не обязательно означает

steer clear

Держитесь подальше

accept the gift

принять дар

TRANSLATION 1. Если вы хотите приноровиться, вам нужно по меньшей мере постараться выяснить причины поведения русских. 2. Если после всех усилий хозяев вы оставите обувь на себе, - у русских будут сложные чувства. Это невежливо, и внешний вид ковров измениться. Лучше снимать обувь. 3. Считается, что русские готовы отдать все свои вещи, не важно, - какой






ценой они их получили. Но иногда они просто избавляются от них таким способом. Она настаивала, что носила туфли на высоком каблуке, чтобы чувствовать себя на высоте, а не потому, что на неё было оказано давление. Он пригласил леди в свет, но заявился без денег при себе, и даже не снял шляпу. Следовательно, он налетел на риск больше не увидеть её. И действительно, это исключило все возможности дальнейших встреч. По этой причине ей пришлось ехать домой на общественном транспорте. Не игнорируйте пожилых людей в общественном транспорте, принаряжайтесь, когда вы идёте с визитом к друзьями, принимайте дары, но всегда отвечайте услугой на услугу, и вы произведёте хорошее впечатление, на самом деле. С одной стороны, русские сильно разнятся от других людей. С другой стороны – они в достаточной степени милы. О, эти русские.

3. What else can you add about “those Russians” – both positive and negative?


4. Bonus. Only for adults. Joe Cocker – You can Leave your hat ON:

Those Russians  
Those Russians  

About Russians. Vocabulary. Training.