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Language

Many younger Ukrainians have taken several years of English but very few can speak it. Many older Ukrainians have taken German in school.

The national language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, but the large majority of Odessites speak Russian.

In the Ukrainian language, Odessa is spelled with one s, while in the Russian Language it is spelled with two. But unlike the nationalistic city to the west, Lviv (or Lvov in Russian) Odessites are not very concerned how it is spelled, the languages comfortable co-exist in this cosmopolitan city.

All official documents are in Ukrainian, but the population reads, writes and speaks in Russian, with a unique Odessite dialect. Russian is very similar to Ukrainian (Similar to how Portuguese is too Spanish), but most Odessites do not know the language.

Russian Alphabet and pronunciation

Unlike English, Ninety percent of Russian words are phonetic, what you see is how it sounds, with none of the confusing spelling of English. (The big excption to this is the Russian "O" which has two different sounds)

Russian Letter Written in text as Equivalent Sound in English
A or ah A in father
b B as in boy
V V as in Very
g G as in get
d D as in Dot
Ye or e Ye in yes
yo Yaw in yonder
zj S in measure
z Z in zero
hard E I in machine hard E
y or i Ee in see
k C in cat
l L in light
m M in match
n N in night
o Two sounds: O in nor Also A as in spa
p P in please
r R in rich Often rolled like Spanish "R"
s S in say
t T in Tell
u OO in boot
f F in Food
h Scottish 'loch' Guttural sound deep in throat
ts Ts in cats
sh Sh in shoe
shch Shch in fresh cheese, posh china
-- No sound
-- No sound Softens the preceding consonant.
eigh Eigh in weigh No real English equivalent.
eh E in men
U or u You
ya Ya in yard

Survival Russian
The official way to write several letters in Russian is often different from how the letters actually sound. This guide has tried to write these letters in English more as these letters really sound:

Russian letter Official English equivalent English equivalent in this guide
zh
zj
kh
h
e
eigh

In this guide to Survival Russian, we have also tried to make the English transcript of Russian words easier to pronounce at a quick glance.

English transcript Pronounced English equivalent
A
hard A A in Ate
ah
ah Ought or Not
E
Hard E E in Eat
i
Hard I I as is China
oo
  oo as is boo
U
hard U U as in you

The "ah" and "oo" are used only with word groups that may be recognized as English words and out of habit pronounced incorrectly. For example, the last syllable "at" in the Russian word for 11 is pronounced "aht" not like the English word "at".

Many buildings, menus, and signs use cursive Russian, of particular note:
The cursive T looks like a small "m"
The cursive looks like a small "n"
The cursive looks like a small "g"

Russian Alphabet and pronunciation, Introduction
The essential basics
"I don't understand"
Where is? How Much?
Numbers
Money / Banks When / Time
Why / where / what // General Ukrainian Service
Hotel / Hotel needs and problems
Getting to know the locals / Da and Net
Transport
Eating
Words for an emergency / Pronouns / All in the family / A few verbs

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