How to Tell if Someone is Russian – So You Can Practice Russian
June 2, 2013
When you are starting to learn Russian, it’s a lot of fun to meet Russians and try to talk to them in Russian. This is usually a very pleasant way to make new friends.
However, when you are just starting out, it’s really hard to tell the difference between a Russian accent and a French or German accent. Even after you are fluent in Russian, it might still be hard to tell the difference between someone speaking English with a Russian accent or a Polish accent.
So here’s the secret…
You need to do something to let people know you are friendly. People whose native language is Russian can be a little bit afraid to tell you where they originally were from, because immigrants and travelers sometimes aren’t treated very well. To reassure them that you mean well, here’s what to do.
Say something like, “I like your accent; where are you from?” This lets them you you are friendly, and it lets them know that they should tell you about growing up in Moscow, not about the apartment where they now live in New York City.
I’ve used this method to meet Russians everywhere from Hawaii to New Zealand to London. It’s disarming, and it’s a good way to switch to talking in Russian.
Can you honestly say that you like their accent? Of course you can. You will soon be speaking Russian with an accent (at least at first), and it’s high time that you develop a love for interesting accents. It’s a great way to meet Russians outside of Russia.