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Thread: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    This is to find out how native Russian speakers feel about people who speak Russian as a foreign language.

    In Europe there is a varying degree of "language snobbery" depending on where you are.. A quick run-down:

    England is a very tolerant place -- people don't care if somebody has a foreign accent, or even if he makes lots of mistakes when he speaks.

    In Germany I have noticed that the expectations of speaking good German are generally much higher. I don't think you could get a good job in Germany unless you could speak good German.

    In Sweden too, people are not always sympathetic towards those who use bad grammar or have a strong foreign accent. However this does not apply to people from Northern Europe; Germans, British, Polish, Baltic - since the general view of these nationalities is positive.

    I have noticed that French people in Paris get irritated if you cannot express quickly and clearly what you want in French. They sometimes prefer not to speak English either. However I think they are quite tolerant with minor mistakes.

    Spain - they are super-nice about bad language and are happy to help people who speak bad Spanish.


    But I don't know what the situation is in Russia, Ukraine etc!
    I am curious of course, since I am studying Russian. Are people going to laugh at me or ignore me?

    --How often do you meet foreigners who do not speak good Russian?
    --Is the situation different in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan?
    --Do you know any foreigners who have learnt Russian and can speak it well?
    --Do you think that the situation with Russian-as-a-foreign-language has changed since the Soviet era? If so, how?
    --What would you think if you worked with someone who was not Russian and made lots of mistakes when he spoke and wrote in Russian?
    --Can Baltic people usually speak good Russian or not? I have noticed that they always mention "native fluency in Russian" on their CV/Resume.
    --What about the Central Asian people who work in Russia - what are their Russian skills generally like?
    --What about Westerners - how often do you meet somebody who can actually speak Russian well?
    --Are there any nationalities (not ex Soviet) who always impress you with their skills in Russian?
    --What foreign accents sound good/bad/cool....?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Random funny person speaking Russian: A female medical student from Asia..
    What would you think of her efforts? She has spent five years in Russia.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AEUfE7YIsU

    Funny clip about Russian lessons for Russians... (it's so hard that not even natives can speak it!)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nwovxKeMbY

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    Почётный участник SPZenA's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    --Is the situation different in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan?
    I live in Kazakhstan, and my physical culture teacher isn't native russian speaker. His native language - kazakh, and when he has mistakes, my schoolmates laugh at him. I don't think, what in Kazakhstan have a tolerant native russian speakers. But... I'm tolerant speaker. Just i know, what is "foreigh language"...
    Please, correct all of my mistakes. My English is terrible.

  3. #3
    Hanna
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Thanks Spzena!
    Kazakhstan is such a cool country! It has always fascinated me, as far back as childhood, before it became independent. I am going to start a topic and ask some "stupid questions" about it later...
    But my impression is that everybody there can speak Russian.

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    Почётный участник SPZenA's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    But my impression is that everybody there can speak Russian. [/i]
    In the centre of Kazakhstan are villages, where families don't want speak russian, because they are Kazakh.When i've been in the Hospital, there have one girl. I say: "Как тебя зовут?", but she don't understand me... I was very surprised, because i've think the same as you...
    Please, correct all of my mistakes. My English is terrible.

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    --How often do you meet foreigners who do not speak good Russian?
    Quite often really. We have many immigrants from Middle Asia and Caucasus here and they seldom speak good Russian.

    --Do you know any foreigners who have learnt Russian and can speak it well?
    Yes, but that's a rare occasion.

    --Do you think that the situation with Russian-as-a-foreign-language has changed since the Soviet era? If so, how?
    That depends on the point of view. If we consider all the former Ex-USSR republic as 'foreign' countries then yes, the situation has deteriorated rather dramatically, but if we only count the countries that were 'foreign' some 20 years ago then I think that the situation is the same.

    --What would you think if you worked with someone who was not Russian and made lots of mistakes when he spoke and wrote in Russian?
    I work in such a company. It belongs to two Armenians and many people there are Armenians. I got used to it and now I hardly pay attention to their mistakes.

    --Can Baltic people usually speak good Russian or not? I have noticed that they always mention "native fluency in Russian" on their CV/Resume.
    Those who are older than 30 years old are probably quite fluent with Russian but with the young people the situation is not so universal.

    --What about the Central Asian people who work in Russia - what are their Russian skills generally like?
    Generally: from ok to worse to afwul. There are people who speak perfect Russian but again - nearly all of them are of middle age or older and they have learnt the language in the Soviet era.

    --What about Westerners - how often do you meet somebody who can actually speak Russian well?
    I met a few Westerners who spoke good-to-perfect Russian but I think I can count them by my fingers on a single hand. Those who speak average Russian are more numerous but still there aren't very many of them. Sometimes I meed a man who thinks that he can speak Russian but I don't understand them for some reason

    --Are there any nationalities (not ex Soviet) who always impress you with their skills in Russian?
    I think not. I haven't noticed that one nationality differs from another in this respect.

    --What foreign accents sound good/bad/cool....?
    Caucasian accent is so common that it became a part of anecdotes. and the accent of the Jews from Odessa is absolutely remarkable, also the accent of people from Baltic states sounds very funny to me.
    Send me a PM if you need me.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    --How often do you meet foreigners who do not speak good Russian?
    I think I hardly ever met a foreigner in my life, (if we don't speak about ex-USSR citizens), and note that I'm living in Moscow.
    Well, seriously, I met some, but very few times, and communication never was long.

    --Do you know any foreigners who have learnt Russian and can speak it well?
    Of course. There some I just know (that is saw them on TV and so on) and I also had a classmate (at the institute), she was Polish, and spoke very good Russian (having been living in Russia for some months only).

    --What would you think if you worked with someone who was not Russian and made lots of mistakes when he spoke and wrote in Russian?
    I would try to find out if (s)he wants me to correct his/her mistakes and if yes, I'd do it from time to time with explanations. If no, I think I'd consider that person as lazy and/ disrespectful to my language.
    Then again, it depends where that person is from. If from US or Europe, or some other distant country, well, in short, if (s)he has recently started to learn Russian, then see my answer above.
    But if the person is from ex-USSR - you know, they all know Russian more or less, and they know better than me how to improve it if they want. But actually many people from ex-USSR countries never decided to learn Russian, they just heard it from their childhood and their Russian is enough for them "as it is". It would be even impolite, I think, to try to correct/improve their Russian.

    --What about the Central Asian people who work in Russia - what are their Russian skills generally like?
    It depends. Some speak more or less good Russian, some quite bad, and some (who never knew Russian and has only recently arrived in Russia) speak very poorly. They all, however, have an accent which sometimes prevents to understand even those whose grammar and vocabulary is okay.
    Oh, and by the way, I live in a brand new block of flats now; the house was build by Uzbek workers, and on every floor you can find an ad about repair works on the walls. My God, how awful they write in Russian!!! I think they only learn Russian 'aurally', through their aural perception, and in most cases they only approximately know how a word should sound. And actually, that's the way natives learn a language

    Just an example of those ads:
    Рермонт квартиру
    Ремонт кирартиру


    --What about Westerners - how often do you meet somebody who can actually speak Russian well?
    Actually, Johanna, you don't often (if ever) meet a Westerner in Russia if you don't work with them.

    --Are there any nationalities (not ex Soviet) who always impress you with their skills in Russian?
    I think... the French.


    --What foreign accents sound good/bad/cool....?
    I don't think any foreign accent sounds good or cool in Russian, especially together with grammatical mistakes (which always go with a foreigner's speech, alas...).
    Asian accents often sound just incomprehensible. A very 'American' accent may sound totally incomprehensible, too.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Random funny person speaking Russian: A female medical student from Asia..
    What would you think of her efforts? She has spent five years in Russia.
    If I didn't know that she has spent five years in Russia, I'd say that she speaks very good. But five years.... I think she could speak better
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    But I don't know what the situation is in Russia, Ukraine etc!
    I am curious of course, since I am studying Russians. Are people going to laugh at me or ignore me?
    It is difficult to compare because the viewpoint of a native speaker is different from the viewpoint of a foreigner. You need an impression of some foreigners who lived in Russia etc. And I think that situation may be very different in Moscow where are many foreigners and, say, not-so-big town like mine.

    Generally if you travel yourself you will have more problems with infrastructure than with language snobism. ExUSSR is still a very bad place for the tourists.

    Are people going to laugh at me or ignore me?
    In a town like mine far foreigners (not xUSSR) are still very exotic. So you can expect much friendly attention especially if you show at least some knowledge of the language. At least few words. Maybe people will laugh sometimes but it will hardly be abusive. And Sweden is accepted positively. On the other hand you always risk to pay for the same service more than native speakers because the price is often a subject of negotiations and Western Europeans are considered to be rich.

    --How often do you meet foreigners who do not speak good Russian?
    There are some Azerbaijan people in the market. They usually speak acceptable Russian though with heavy accent.
    There were a series of Chinese students in our college. They tried to keep together and their Russian even after several years was awful (if was at all). I don't know how did they learn.

    --Is the situation different in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan?
    I think Ukraine is more tolerant then Russia to strangers (no matter of language). But my experience is limited.

    --Do you know any foreigners who have learnt Russian and can speak it well?
    I know one Chinese with perfect Russian. But he spent here about half of his life (20-30 years).

    --What would you think if you worked with someone who was not Russian and made lots of mistakes when he spoke and wrote in Russian?
    Of course I would not be happy if it hinder the work. But if not then no problem. I'd be much more unhappy to work with native speaker with vulgar speech.

    --Can Baltic people usually speak good Russian or not? I have noticed that they always mention "native fluency in Russian" on their CV/Resume.
    Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    --Are there any nationalities (not ex Soviet) who always impress you with their skills in Russian?
    Well, theoretically Slavs have much less problems in learning Russian but I have no good statistics personally. Two Poles I met in train spoke quite good.

    --What foreign accents sound good/bad/cool....?
    I like Polish accent, it sounds aristocratic.
    There was a humoristic dubbing of the movie "Lord of the rings". Elves there were dubbed with Baltic accent and dwarves with Caucasian one. It was in a very good correspondence with our impression of these accents.

    Random funny person speaking Russian: A female medical student from Asia..
    What would you think of her efforts? She has spent five years in Russia.
    Not so good for five years. I'd not like to have her as a medic, it would be too problematic to communicate.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo
    Not so good for five years. I'd not like to have her as a medic, it would be too problematic to communicate.
    I dare to suppose that their lessons are heavily shifted toward russian medical vocabulary rather than common 'every day' vocabulary and advanced grammar.
    Russian is tough, let’s go shopping!

  9. #9
    Hanna
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    SPZenA, I am just curious; are you able to speak Kazakh? Is it a difficult language?

    (Some English corrections, hope it is helpful! )

    I live in Kazakhstan, and my physical [s:5umomegc]culture[/s:5umomegc] education (=PE) teacher isn't a native Russian speaker. His native language is Kazakh, and when he [s:5umomegc]has[/s:5umomegc] makes mistakes, my [s:5umomegc]school[/s:5umomegc] classmates laugh at him. I don't think[s:5umomegc], what in[/s:5umomegc] that Kazakhstan has very tolerant native Russian speakers. But... I'm a tolerant speaker. (??)[s:5umomegc]Just i know, what is "foreigh language[/s:5umomegc]"...
    This text was good - you only made a few minor mistakes. Nothing important. But I could not understand the last sentence.
    If you read more in English you will get better at understanding when to use "a" and "the".

    Haha, I should have written this text in Russian!! You would be laughing your head off right now at all my mistakes....

  10. #10
    Hanna
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Wow such interesting responses.

    The comment about the voices that were used for the characters in Lord of the Rings was interesting.

    In Scandinavian films "mysterious strangers" often have a Russian accent... For example in films about old times, people with magical powers sound like they are Russian. Also mysterious people whose intentions are unclear (I.e. is the person really good or really bad...?)

    I did not know that foreigners were so rare in Russia!
    I know an American who worked in Moscow for a while. (But he didn't like it and moved to London..) He couldn't speak any Russian at all.

    Lots of Swedish and Finnish people travel to St Petersburg (in particular, but also to Moscow). There is not as much business as there OUGHT TO be between the countries, but still, quite a bit.
    (Wait until they hook up the Trans-sib with South Korea and extend it to the Atlantic ports in Norway... Apparently this is planned...)

    If Scandinavians speak Russian, they get mistaken for Baltic people... If they don't speak Russian they feel very stupid and immediately get interested in learning it. Most Scandis can say a few silly phrases and words in Russian, but absolutely not have a conversation...

    Olya, if / when I visit Moscow I definitely want to see you, if you want - then you will have met a "real" foreigner, albeit perhaps not a very "exotic" one...! Hopefully during 2010, although not in the spring...

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    Почтенный гражданин capecoddah's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Come one! Come all!
    Meet the not very exotic but very real foreigner Johanna!

    Sorry...
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  12. #12
    Hanna
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by capecoddah
    Sorry...
    I'm easily amused late at night...
    Yes you are...

    Well maybe that didn't come out quite right but my point was that Sweden (Scandinavia) isn't exactly an exotic place, at least not from a Russian perspective. In fact, a lot of things are very similar.
    To me, Russia is cool because it's so similar, yet so different.

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    Почётный участник SPZenA's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    (Some English corrections, hope it is helpful! )
    Thank you

    But I could not understand the last sentence.
    Hm. Я хочу сказать, что я толерантна потому, как знаю, что такое - учить иностранный язык.

    SPZenA, I am just curious; are you able to speak Kazakh? Is it a difficult language?
    For me Kazakh is very difficult I've learn Kazakh since 9 years, and i can say only "Сенің атым кім?", it mean "What is your name?"
    Please, correct all of my mistakes. My English is terrible.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    In Scandinavian films "mysterious strangers" often have a Russian accent... For example in films about old times, people with magical powers sound like they are Russian. Also mysterious people whose intentions are unclear (I.e. is the person really good or really bad...?)
    It's interesting and strange how much important accents are in foreign languages. In our films, only a foreigner character can speak with an accent. If a film is a tale, a mystic story about people with magical powers, or a film about old times - you never hear any accent there, and it even would be weird to hear it.
    Well, as said, an accent in Russian never sounds good, or, at least, it never sounds natural, and in most cases it would be just inappropriate and only would distract your attention from what is being said.

    Olya, if / when I visit Moscow I definitely want to see you, if you want - then you will have met a "real" foreigner, albeit perhaps not a very "exotic" one...!
    Johanna, the fact is that any foreigner not from ex-USSR (mmm... and not from Asia, I think) is exotic here.
    But please don't understand me as I have never seen foreigners, say, in the streets. It happens quite often. I just mean that a regular Russian hardly communicates with foreigners in his everyday life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    (??)[s:1rqwiawi]Just i know, what is "foreigh language[/s:1rqwiawi]"...
    This text was good - you only made a few minor mistakes. Nothing important. But I could not understand the last sentence.
    SPZenA meant, "I just know what a foreigh language is".
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Новичок Иван из космоса's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Funny clip about Russian lessons for Russians... (it's so hard that not even natives can speak it!)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nwovxKeMbY
    Dear Lord, this is absolutely terrifying.
    Пожалуйста, исправьте мои ошибки. Спасибо!
    Я люблю вкусную кукурузу.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    i wonder if when i'm speaking russian it will be easy to tell that i'm american. I don't know if i have an accent and if it is horrible. I think that accents in English are very cool. My favorite is an Irish accent or Australian. Sometimes i can't even asian accents. Anyway, Merry Christmas Everyone!

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthsideRMK
    i wonder if when i'm speaking russian it will be easy to tell that i'm american. I don't know if i have an accent and if it is horrible. I think that accents in English are very cool. My favorite is an Irish accent or Australian. Sometimes i can't even asian accents. Anyway, Merry Christmas Everyone!
    You can record something and host the recording somewhere so we could tell.
    Send me a PM if you need me.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    I would say the fluent/native Russian speakers on this board are snobs. They don't want to help someone learn.

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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSmith
    I would say the fluent/native Russian speakers on this board are snobs. They don't want to help someone learn.
    Oh, this is funny! We are snobs because we did not wanted to make an audio for you to be able to say in Russian "Your ass is really gorgeous and I want to lick you all over".
    Give us a break, will you?
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Re: Are native Russian speakers 'language snobs' or tolerant?

    hahhaha! "Your ass is really gorgeous and I want to lick you all over" who would want to translate that!?

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