Russian names

I don’t know how many of my readers know about Russian names or more specifically, the repetition of Russian names.

With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to hear that today’s quick post isn’t a rant (I will be milking the rant snake again soon, have no fear).
This one is actually about Russian names, and some of the potentially hilarious mix ups you can have with them.
My foolish lack of attention ended up with me on a date with the wrong girl last week, although I’m sure there are worse situations I could end up in.

names and problems

One thing about Russian names is that they are all quite common, both male and female. This means that upon touching down on ex-Soviet soil, you will be confronted with a barrage of Ivans, Igors, Borrisis, Lenas, Katyas and so on

Sorry Igor, I still can’t associate your name with anything other than that of a bumbling, evil sidekick

This can lead to some confusion since, for me at least, most Russian surnames don’t exactly lend themselves to easy memorising. Things also get more confusing when you meet new Russians where there is booze involved.

and there’s always booze involved  

Fortunately I have a damn near tard-proof, but slight chauvinistic system for solving this problem that involves three core components:

a first name
place met
some memorable attribute

For example
Dasha tema boobs - Dasha, who I met at a bar called Tema with big boobs, obviously
or Irina Coffee - Irina, that works for some coffee company

and don’t worry ladies, it works the other way around too, for example:
Boris club pointy shoes, or Ivan pub mullet

looking good bro

It’s better to be specific. When I ended up meeting up with the wrong person, it was because I had foolishly not followed my own rule.
It was a case of simply Lena 24 and Lena 28. Because they were in my phone book right next to each other, I didn’t notice that I had been in fact making plans with the wrong one until it was too late and I only noticed when I decided to change the names in my phone book to avoid this exact type of thing.

curse my aging brain

Although I was punished in a way because wrong Lena (as she is now in my phone) managed to infect me with a shitty cold.

Justice being done aside, I find when you do inevitably forget whether you are talking to a Katya, Masha, Sergey or Roman, I just ask them in a nonchalant what their full name is (а какое у тебя полное имя - фамилия, имя и отчество?).
This trick will save you when you realise you have indeed forgotten their names (and you’ll look like less of a cock than if you simply said ‘sorry, I forgot your name’). Plus, you’ll definitely remember it the second time around. Failing that, just invent a silly nick name to give them and use that, although if you do this with dudes, a first fight will most likely ensue

One more thing, if you ever come across a Kseniya or Oxana, you should realise that in Russian these are considered the same name - even though they are completely different.
Usually the Ksenya/Oxana in question will say that she only likes to be called one or the other.
I still see them as different though.

Oh, and Natahsa and Natalya are also variants of the same name.

Good luck with those names!

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Vladislav Sinitsyn on October 15, 2011 at 12:40 AM said...

Actually, "Oxana" is not quite similar to "Ksenya", it is, in facts, ukrainian version of name "Ksenya", but in Russia it's two different names.
Don't be confused with different versions of a name, because in Russia a name may change depending who's speaking, and people close to you will never use your full "official" given name, they'll use shorter and more unformal name.
As for "Natalia", which is formal form, her 20 years older boss will call her "Natasha", closest girlfriend "Nata", romantic boyfriend "Natali", and her father, may be, even "Tasha".

Lt. Columbo on February 2, 2012 at 4:33 PM said...

thanks Vladislav, some good info there

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