Speaking more than one language is like living more than one life, one of the ancient philosophers said. And it’s true — traveling in a foreign country such as Russia suddenly becomes a lot more exciting when you can engage in elegant small talk with a hotel receptionist, compliment your tour guide’s dress, or actually read the menu and order the food that you really want. Being able to ask for things instead of pointing at them and getting directions from the locals instead of staring at a map are some of the little things that make you feel at home.
You don’t even need to cross the ocean to immerse yourself in Russian culture; you can find little Russian neighborhoods (or even pretty big ones!) in many American cities. Whether your colleagues, your neighbors, or your friends speak Russian, the best way to win their hearts is to speak their language to them.
Now, Russian For Dummies won’t make you a fluent reader of Dostoevsky in the original (most Russians themselves need somewhat of a preparation for that). It will, however, equip you with phrases necessary to function in many life situations, from shopping to visiting the theater. And little gems of cultural wisdom offered throughout the book help you not only translate the language, but also understand Russians so much better. So, buckle up, and good luck on your journey! Or, as the Russians like to say, Zhelayem vam udachi! (zhih-lah-eem vahm oo-dah-chee; We wish you good luck!)
How This Book Is Organized
Russian For Dummies consists of five parts and an audio CD. Each part of the book offers something different.
Part I: Getting Started
In this part, find the basic essentials of the Russian language. Chapter 1 shows you that you already know some Russian, although it may be a surprise to you. We introduce the Russian alphabet and also give you an idea of how to use your knowledge of English to decipher some Russian words. Chapter 2 gives you a crash course on Russian grammar; it’s also the right place to turn to if you want to know Russian numbers. And finally, find your first Russian words — greetings and introductions — in Chapter 3.
Part II: Russian in Action
Part II prepares you for most social situations that you need to handle in Russian. Chapter 4 shows you how to make small talk; Chapters 5 and 6 prepare you to talk about food and shopping. When you have the essentials covered, find out how to talk about fun things, such as going out (Chapter 7), and sports, reading, and other hobbies (Chapter 8). Chapter 9 equips you with the necessary phrases to make phone calls and send mail. For navigation through serious situations like getting a job or finding an apartment, refer to Chapter 10.
Part III: Russian on the Go
This part covers all the aspects of traveling, from planning your trip (Chapter 11) and discussing transportation (Chapter 12), to arranging for a place to stay (Chapter 13) and settling your financial matters (Chapter 14). Chapter 15 also shows you how to ask for directions, and Chapter 16 prepares you for handling emergencies.
Part IV: The Part of Tens
The Part of Tens is an unusual part of this book; it gives you lists of fun things to know, such as ten ways to pick up Russian quickly, ten holidays that Russians celebrate, and ten things never to do or say in Russia or to Russians. This part is also the place to find ten favorite Russian expressions and to pick up ten phrases that make you sound authentically Russian.
Part V: Appendixes
Russian For Dummies also includes four appendixes, which bring together some useful information. In Appendix A, find Russian verb tables. Appendix B is a convenient mini-dictionary for your quick reference. Appendix C offers the answer key to the Fun & Games sections of each chapter. And Appendix D helps you navigate through the attached audio CD; it contains the description of all the dialogues on the CD and tells you in which chapter you can find the text of the dialogue.
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