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Thread: Девушка! :-)

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    Девушка! :-)

    I have spent well over a month in Russian speaking countries now, first Ukraine, and then Belarus. But I am feeling a bit unsure about how to be polite (or how to address people) in shops and restaurants.

    Give me...!
    I have noticed that many local people simply walk up to the sales person (even if they are busy with something else) and say loudly "Девушка! Дайте мне......" The first times I heard that I thought "Oh my god how impolite these people are!" That is after 10 years in England where you must say "please"... and "thank you" absolutely all the time, in order not to sound rude.. Also and in light of me being Swedish, where it is extremely important to treat sales people respectfully and not imagine that you are allowed to order them about.
    Clearly, it is a normal way of speaking Russian though, I am almost certain.

    So I have instead said "Moжно пожалуйста..... х.....?"
    But I am beginning to suspect that this sounds a bit stupid, or at least that it is an un-Russian way of speaking??

    I absolutely don't want to be rude to sales people and but am not sure how to say what I want. Advice would be appreciated!

    Queue-jumpers!
    Also, I have noticed that people don't always seem to care if somebody else was already waiting to be served. Instead of asking the other person "are you waiting?" or "is there a queue?" they simply jump in and hence queue-jump me! Since I am on holiday it's not extremely important, as I am not in a rush... So I have ignored it. But I am wondering, is it normal to clear ones throat a bit loudly, say "excuse me, there is a queue!" or how to you normally handle such situations?

  2. #2
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    Usually i say:
    "Простите, можно ...."
    "Извините, Вы не могли бы подсказать ...."
    "Простите, Вы не подскажите ...".
    But you should know that all this depends from person. Some people are more polite than others.
    Красив, умен, слегка сутул,
    набит мировоззрением,
    вчера в себя я заглянул
    и вышел с омерзением.

  3. #3
    Властелин
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    So I have instead said "Moжно пожалуйста..... х.....?"
    But I am beginning to suspect that this sounds a bit stupid, or at least that it is an un-Russian way of speaking??
    No, it's a good way of speaking Russian. Although a sales person does not usually think of how you addressed her. Remember only that "ты" is unacceptable.
    As far as I know, one should raise intonation on a verb to make a polite request in Russian.

  4. #4
    Hanna
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    Oh, does it sound rude?
    I just want to be able to say in a polite way "Please can I have x?"

  5. #5
    Administrator MasterAdmin's Avatar
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    When you are addressing a single person in plural it's always polite.
    The -те ending makes it sound polite.
    Of course, you can add other politeness phrases like "Дайте мне пожалуйста..." to make it even more polite.
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

  6. #6
    Hanna
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    Thanks gsold and MasterAdmin! I'll try those options instead!


    The other thing that makes it sound rude to me, is that they are not using "please", or "thank you" when they address the sales staff... and also that the way of shouting "ДЕВУШКА!!!" ... If you translated it into English, for example, you realise why it seems rude.

    I know it's the normal way of speaking, in Russian, but it just feels that way to me...

    If a man does something wrong, I have noticed that they holler after him "МУЖЧИНА!!! move away from there!! Right away!!! " or something like that....The first times I heard it, I almost wanted to laugh, because it sounded so funny to me...
    In England, they would instead say "Excuse me!!! I am afraid it's not possible to walk there today.... would you walk on the other side, please!" Frankly, that sounded funny to me too, at first, because they are being so overly polite at times. But now I have got used to it.

  7. #7
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    But I am wondering, is it normal to clear ones throat a bit loudly, say "excuse me, there is a queue!" or how to you normally handle such situations?
    Да, можно сказать: "Сейчас МОЯ Очередь" It's better not to wait while they jump you in.
    You can also adress a relatively young man "Молодой человек" - it will be rather mild.
    "МУЖЧИНА!!! move away from there!! Right away!!! " or something like that.
    Yes, it sounds rude, but we cannot change anything.

  8. #8
    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Hehe, Hanna, that's the sirious problem that you've rised in this topic and the roots of it are going to the Russian Revolution and to the beginning of XX century. There was the certain etiquette, you can learn it reading the classic examples of Russian literature of XIX century, but after the era of War Communism people were afraid to use it because the only adressing form to other person for using wich you usually shouldn't be shot was "comrade". That's why "сударь" and "сударыня" became archaic and "господин" and "госпожа" became weird. After the fall of domination of socialist ideology the adressing "comrade" became weird also so we have those the really weird one now: "man! woman! girl! young man!" and such... I'm personally very sad about that fact and very sorry for my language for being such fvcked and all those due political reasons, actually.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  9. #9
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    What about things using гражданин? гражданка? Too formal? Like извините пожалуйста хороший гражданин...

  10. #10
    Увлечённый спикер fabriciocarraro's Avatar
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    I faced the same problem in Russia. As a brazilian, I tend to call people by their first names. It's totally ok here, and I felt very uncomfortable having to call my father-in-law by his first name+ochestvo. Actually, it's ok at the beginning, but after a while it sounds really odd. Also for my mother-in-law. Nowadays I call them "Mama" and "Papa", and they love it, but at first I had the same problems, and probably I'll have them again when meting uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.
    Also this "Devushka", "Muzhchina", "Molodoi chelovek" sounds VERY impolite to me.

  11. #11
    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Hanna;220692]
    The other thing that makes it sound rude to me, is that they are not using "please", or "thank you" when they address the sales staff... /QUOTE]

    I've been told that if someone is performing their job then thank you and please are not necessary.
    Cultures differ - in Spain they usually say "dame (una cerveza)..." literally "give me (a beer.)" No need for "oh, please excuse me if I'm troubling you, but may I please have a beer Sir."
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  12. #12
    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
    What about things using гражданин? гражданка? Too formal? Like извините пожалуйста хороший гражданин...
    It's not good (watch from 00:41:20 and 00:45:30)
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  13. #13
    Увлечённый спикер
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    Hanna, welcome to the Russian reality
    In fact, it's very good to say 'thank you, please', etc. But all depends on education and upbringing here. Some people in Russia are not used to hear 'please' and 'thank you'. When you say thank you for example, to кондуктор when she gives you a ticket she is sometimes shocked to hear 'thank you' for the ticket!
    Also about the queue...when I was in London and was waiting for a bus, there was the queue and an old lady was behind me. I said to her smth like 'please go first' and she said 'no, no you are first' I felt so uncomfortable that because of the 'rule' of the queue the old lady didn't go first. In Russia it is polite to let people who are much older go first.

  14. #14
    Hanna
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    Lena you did the right thing in London, definitely. It's really important there, to be polite as a foreigner. English people love to complain about rude foreigners... On the other hand, if they notice that you have mastered English niceities, then they think you are a great person!

    Thanks for the tip about the queue Marcus!

    Seraph... re the Spanish: I never noticed that. I think they are polite. They are like Russians in that they will shout at people who are about to do something stupid, make a mistake or forget something. Swedish or English people would not do that.

    Interesting to hear that Fabricio reacted the same way to this as I did.

    Today when I was at a cafe, a guy was sitting next to me, with a dog. Several people came up to him and said "Здравствуй товарищ!" in a loud voice and laughing. I thought it was rather peculiar, but after a while I realised that Товарищ had to be the name of the dog!

    I think my questions are answered though - I have a few alternatives which sound polite enough to me.

    Basil77 - Oh, that's interesting! So it's a rather recent development in the language then...? It's true that in Russian films of old times, the people are very polite, a bit like the French would be.

    In Sweden, we also had a bit of political influence on the language (ты - вы )funny that we made this change, and not the USSR!
    Basically in the 1970s, there was an official move away from the formal word for "you". The idea was that everyone was completely equal, and the idea that somebody like a boss, deserved more respect than the employee was politically incorrect. The same thing later happened in schools and across society. Authorities started writing letters in such a way that they did not have to make a stand either way - avoid directly addressing the person. So the polite form was dropped by almost everyone apart from "reactionary" type people. My bourgeouis background (hehe!) meant that
    and when I was younger, I spent a lot of time worrying about whether to be politically correct by mainstream definition with certain people, or polite according to the old fashioned tradition. Making a mistake was almost like a political provocation, or with posh people, a sign of being 'common' or vulgar, rather than inpolite. So it was a real minefield. And now because of this, lots of people are making mistakes with this when speaking foreign languages - particularly German where the words are really similar, and people just forget.

    To all Russian people I'd definitely give the advice to use please and thank you A LOT when you speak English! Basically, you can not use it too much in the English language. Whenever you ask somebody for anything at all, remember to put please in there!

    I should say that I have had very good service so far in these countries. I have nothing to complain about. Conductors on trolleybuses, shop staff and restaurant staff are polite enough for me. I think a British or American person might see them as rude simply because they don't smile a lot, because of the please/thank you thing and because a lot of service staff don't immediately attend to the customer. To me, that is relatively normal. When they do help, they are very friendly.

  15. #15
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    Sorry, i'll tell this story at russian language.
    Когда я был "молодым специалистом" и работал первый год после института, в отделе был один очень колоритный инженер старой закалки(начинал работать еще когда "дедушка Сталин" был жив). И было ему тогда 72 года, но бодрости его духа и живости ума завидовали и двадцатилетние. Плюс ко всему он обладал очень специфическим чувством юмора. Один раз мы с ним столкнулись перед дверью в один из кабинетов.
    я - "Проходите, Михаил Семенович."
    он - "Ну что Вы молодой человек - только после Вас."
    я - "Ну, Михаил Семенович, Вы же знаете, что я не могу не пропустить Вас."
    он - "Что Вы, что Вы. Молодым везде у нас дорога."
    я - "Старика везде у нас почет. Михаил Семенович, не заставляйте меня унижаться! Только после Вас."
    Вы не поверите - кривлялись мы так минут 12-15. Получали оба несказанное удовольствие. Но я сделал глупость и сдался - зашел в кабине первым. После чего услышал фразу, сказанную с ехидной инотонацией - "А могли бы и пропустить старика, молодой человек." Затем мы оба заржали, как лошади и не могли остановиться еще минут 15, вспоминая особенно удачные перлы.
    С тех пор я всегда пропускаю женщин и тех, кто старше меня вперед .

    P.S. Герой моего маленького рассказа прежнему жив и здоров - ему сейчас 82 года.

    "молодой специалист" - инженер первые 5 лет после окончания учебного заведения.
    Красив, умен, слегка сутул,
    набит мировоззрением,
    вчера в себя я заглянул
    и вышел с омерзением.

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