The Russian girl band Blestyashchie.

Russian MiniLessons: Girl Talk

Published: October 1, 2008

The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.

Russian has several words related to “девушка” which can all mean “girl” with varying connotations. For example, “девочка”, a diminutive form, would indicate a very young girl. “Девкa” is another derivative of the word, but a not wholly pleasant one, implying “wench” or even “harlot.” In modern slang, the plural forms “девчата” and “девчонки” are used in familiar cases between friends, but we don’t recommend trying to use them as they can also be quite offensive.

The word “девушка” also carries the extra meaning of “ma’am” in restaurant and other service settings; it is customary to call официантки by this title. A male server is commonly called “молодой человек”. These titles can be applied no matter the true age of the server and with no negative connotation.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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Josh Wilson

Josh has lived in Moscow since 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson