The differences between Russian from Moscow and Russian from St. Petersburg

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Marina RamazanovaRussian
September 2, 2016
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2 minutes
Moscow and St. Petersburg are the two biggest cities in Russia with a population of over 17,500,000 people in total.
Like two blood relatives, they have so many similarities that sometimes you can be confused as to which city you are in!

The similarities


Both cities are the capitals. Surprised? Right, you know that the official capital of Russia is Moscow, however, St. Petersburg is called the “Northern Capital” because there are several important federal institutions located there. It's also referred to as the ‘’Cultural Capital’’ due to the fact that there are so many museums, palaces and historical monuments.

If you have ever travelled between Moscow and St. Petersburg by train you might have noticed that "Moscow" railway station is in St. Petersburg, and "St. Petersburg" railway station is in Moscow.
And the inside and outside of both buildings are completely the same. The only difference is the monuments, with Peter the Great in St. Petersburg and Lenin in Moscow.

Speaking about the metro stations, we cannot ignore the fact that their names, such as Mayakovskaya, Pushkinskaya, Mezhdunarodnaya, Leninskiy prospekt, Akademicheskaya, etc. are the same in the two metropolises. And we haven’t compared the streets names yet!

So what are the differences between the cities?


Apart from a different mentality and way of life of the inhabitants, there is a difference in their speech which characterizes in special pronunciation, lexicon and accent. Both versions are normative, meaning they are understood by the overwhelming majority of Russian speakers regardless of location or residence. But their speech does differ in a few particular areas.

Accent

Moscow people pronounce the letter “a” in the syllable preceding the stressed syllable a little bit longer than people in St. Petersburg do. Some people say that Moscow citizens stretch the vowels and «а́кают» («akayut»). For example, in the phrase «Моско́вский акце́нт» (Moscow accent) sounds like «Мааско́вский аакце́нт».

Pronunciation

a) «Чн» vs. «шн»

Many citizens of St. Petersburg pronounce the letter «ч» in «чн» combination just like the sound ch, while in Moscow it is normal to say it like «шн» (shn sound). For instance, «бу́лочная» - «бу́лошная» (bakery), «яи́чница» - «яи́шница» (scrambled eggs), «подсве́чник» - «подсве́шник» (candlestick).

b) «зж», «жд», «жж»

In Moscow, these pairs of consonants are usually pronounced with the long and soft «жь» zh’. Here are several examples «дожьжьи́» (in Moscow) vs. «дожди́» (in St. Petersburg) (rains), «е́жьжьу» vs. «е́зжу» (I go), «по́жьжье» vs. «по́зже» (later) accordingly.

c) «р» vs. «рь»

In St. Petersburg, people pronounce clear solid "p" in the words «четве́рг» (Thursday), «пе́рвый» (first), instead of Moscow's soft «четве́рьг» and «пе́рьвый».

Vocabulary

There are also some lexical distinctions. On the left side, there are several Moscow words and on the right side are the St. Petersburg’s equivalents:

  • Бе́лый хлеб Belyy khleb, бато́н baton – Бу́лка bulka
  • Бордю́р Bordyur – Поре́брик Porebrik
  • Водола́зка Vodolazka – Бадло́н Badlon
  • Гре́чка Grechka – Гре́ча Grecha
  • Кио́ск Kiosk, пала́тка palatka – Ларёк Laryok
  • Ку́рицаKuritsa – Ку́ра Kura
  • Ла́вочка Lavochka – Скаме́йка Skameyka
  • Маршру́тка Marshrutka – Тэ́шка Teshka (mini bus)
  • Подъе́зд Pod"yezd – Пара́дная Paradnaya
  • Шаурма́ Shaurma – Шаве́рма Shaverma etc.

Due to the fact that language is a living organism which is constantly evolving, nowadays these distinctions are disappearing day by day. However, Moscow residents will always distinguish St. Petersburg’s speech and St. Petersburg's residents will always distinguish Moscow's speech. And now you can too!




Russian Tutor Marina
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Hi! I'm a native Russian speaker from St.Petersburg. I'm NOT a professional teacher, but I'm passionate about teaching my native language. I have been teaching Russian online for over 3.5 years and have 3500+ online lessons taught. The structure of my lessons depends on your level of Russian and your goal. Some students want to read Russian poems and lyrics or just to refresh their knowledge because they studied Russian at school, while other students prefer to study grammar and new vocabulary. So, I'm open to any of your ideas! :) I'm very patient and friendly. I know that studying a foreign language is not easy, so I’ll try to make our lessons in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. ***READ BEFORE BOOKING A SESSION*** 1. WHEN YOU BOOK A FIRST/TRIAL LESSON with me, PLEASE, write about your level of Russian and your goal of learning Russian. This will help me to make the first session more efficient for you. Otherwise, we will just speak during the first lesson. 2. If you are a beginner and you don't speak at least English I can't help you to study Russian because I teach it in English for novices. 3. If you do not show up for class without warning me in advance: - for the first time I'll mark the lesson as completed and issue the student a 50% refund - for the second time I'll mark the lesson as completed and will require full payment Feel free to contact me!
Flag
Russian
globe
Russia
time
1 812
Russian
Native
,
English
B2
Hi! I'm a native Russian speaker from St.Petersburg. I'm NOT a professional teacher, but I'm passionate about teaching my native language. I have been teaching Russian online for over 3.5 years and have 3500+ online lessons taught. The structure of my lessons depends on your level of Russian and your goal. Some students want to read Russian poems and lyrics or just to refresh their knowledge because they studied Russian at school, while other students prefer to study grammar and new vocabulary. So, I'm open to any of your ideas! :) I'm very patient and friendly. I know that studying a foreign language is not easy, so I’ll try to make our lessons in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. ***READ BEFORE BOOKING A SESSION*** 1. WHEN YOU BOOK A FIRST/TRIAL LESSON with me, PLEASE, write about your level of Russian and your goal of learning Russian. This will help me to make the first session more efficient for you. Otherwise, we will just speak during the first lesson. 2. If you are a beginner and you don't speak at least English I can't help you to study Russian because I teach it in English for novices. 3. If you do not show up for class without warning me in advance: - for the first time I'll mark the lesson as completed and issue the student a 50% refund - for the second time I'll mark the lesson as completed and will require full payment Feel free to contact me!

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