Russian for English speakers

ASSIMIL - Russian for English speakers - 1951

Download Audio 01



Милая (Филипп Киркоров)


Знавал я женщин многих, таинственных и строгих,
Не в меру одиноких, не в меру разбитных.
Дарил я им букеты, читал я им сонеты,
Не зная, что судьбой мне выбрана лишь ты.

I new many women ("I was knowing women plenty"), mysterious and austere
Excessively lonely, too far outgoing
I've gave (as a present) them bouquets, I've read them sonnets
Not knowing, "that by destiny to me was selected only you" (destiny has selected you for me)

Милая, милая, милая,
Нежный мой ангел земной.
Только однажды был счастлив я,
В день нашей встречи с тобой.

Darling, darling, darling
Gentle my angel earthly (my angel on Earth)
Only once was happy I (I was happy only once)
At the day of our meeting with you (me with you)

Знавал я много грусти, бывал порой жестоким.
Не в меру одиноким, не в меру разбитным.
Бросал слова на ветер, живя обманом этим
Не зная, что судьбой мне выбрана лишь ты.

I knew much sorrow ("/many of sorrow/"), I was occasionally cruel
Excessively lonely, too far outgoing
I was throwing words at the wind, /while/ living with this delusion ("/by delusion this/")
Not knowing, that the destiny has selected you only for me

Знавал я много ласки и часто строил глазки.
Не в меру одиноким, не в меру разбитным.
Мне девушки ночами свидания назначали,
Не зная, что судьбой мне выбрана лишь ты.

I knew much tenderness and often made/"builded" eyes (flirted)
[I was] excessively lonely, [I was] excessively outgoing
The girls have appointed the night dates for me ("to me girls in nights dates appointed"
Not knowing, that destiny has selected you only for me


Hello dear friends!

My name is Andrey Kuzmenko and I will read Assimil's Russian Without Toil for you. Feel free to distribute this readings between you friends and colleagues, but do not forget to always share full package, i.e., texts and audio together, for they are nearly useless without each other.

Notes on Levels:

You need to start with level 1 (picture dictionary with pronunciation). I strongly recommend you to get a Russian Picture Dictionary program (like EuroTalk) and to play with it for some time.

This (Assimil) course refers to level 2 (basic phrases), level 3 (extended dialogs), and even level 4 (simple texts).

Notes on Readings:

Alphabet and Words: I will read Russian Alphabet, in case you don't know it or wish to have it handy.

I will read each Russian word in two ways:
1) As it spelled, syllable by syllable
2) As it pronounced normally

Lessons themselves: I will read every Russian phrase in two ways
1) Word by word, with the literal meaning of each word
2) In a normal way, with English translation.

Notes on Script:

I will not provide the hand-written version of Russian texts, because IMHO there is no way you, as a newbie learner, could decipher it. You can download PDF-Source and the original 1951 recording (download here lessons 00-20), however, if you are interested in it.

You may very well find method of transcription, used in this book, incompatible or even depreciated. I recommend you not to use it (Latin-letters transcript of Russian words using English-style phonemes-to letters representation) at all. While such transcription is useful for single words, it's really unproductive trying to convert (or even trans-code) Cyrillic into Anglicized Latin.

Notes on Comments:

MCR - Modern Colloquial Russian notes - I will provide comments about how to say the given phrase in modern spoken Russian.

AK-NOTE - Notes about strange spelling and errors in English translation and/or transliteration of Russian words and phrases.

Russian without toil
by A. Chrel
Illustrated by Pierre Soymier

15 bis, rue de Marignan

610, Fifth Avenue


5, rue des Pierres


Russian without toil

The records are not indispensable for the study of "RUSSIAN WITHOUT TOIL", as the pronunciation is indicated in the book. But once you have heard them, you cannot do without them; these companions are as pleasant as they are precious. They are interpreted in a living natural way by distinguished Russian artists.
" RUSSIAN WITHOUT TOIL ", with its records is worth several months' stay in Russia.


Russian is rightly said to be a difficult language. The alphabet looks unsympathetic, the declensions and conjugations complex; and yet nearly two hundred million people, most of whom are far from being intellectuals, speak it as naturally as we speak English. One has no need to be learned, or especially gifted to succeed in doing what a young 5 or 6 year old moujik does quite naturally.

All you shall need is patience, steadiness in study, and confidence. We shall take upon us to lead you along the easiest paths, and bring you to the purposed end without too much fatigue. We even hope that the journey will not be devoid of interest and pleasure.

Let us here remind you of the principle of ASSIMIL; that is to follow the natural method, which consists in understanding first, and speaking afterwards.

You will only have to read the text in Russian, and compare it with the English opposite; to read the footnotes attentively; then, at the end of the lesson, to read again aloud every paragraph, and repeat it immediately without looking at the text. It is not a question of learning by heart, but simply of repeating each sentence immediately after reading and understanding it.

Daily practice will do the rest. You will first remember the most current phrases, then, by degrees, and quite naturally, your knowledge will grow like a snowball, and when, towards the fiftieth lesson of this passive assimilation, we ask you to proceed to the active stage in beginning over again from the first page, you will see that the way is clear, and that you can easily translate English into Russian, and gradually get used to thinking in Russian.

We promise you success, on the only condition that you should study regularly, i.e., at least a quarter of an hour each day. Daily repetition is the key to success.

You may very well study several lessons together, if you wish or have the time to; but be regular, do not let one day pass without doing your quarter of an hour of Russian; make it a habit.

If you have the records, this habit will provide you with a daily entertainment; living voices will bring you, as it were, Russia in your own home. You may not feel constantly like studying; but when it is only a matter of listening to the gramophone...

Before taking up the study of the language itself, we must learn now to read the alphabet.

To make this easier, we have drawn up a list of words practically identical in both languages. Listen to it and read it again and again until you have grown familiar with the Russian letters.

In each Russian word, the fat letter indicates the stressed syllable.

This list of words will make you familiar with the Russian alphabet and with the pronunciation, too.
In the first record you will hear every word spoken by a man's, then by a woman's, voice.
(* Refers to the original recording)

The Russian alphabet
Русский алфавит









Бб b   Сс s
Вв v   Тт t
Гг gh   Уу oo
Дд d   Фф f


  Хх kh
Ёё yo   Цц ts
Жж (d)j   Чч tch
Зз z   Шш sh
Ии ee   Щщ shtch
Йй ee (short or assimilated)   Ъъ hard sign
Кк k   Ыы hard y (hard ee)
Лл l   Ьь soft sign
Мм m   Ээ ay
Нн n   Юю yoo
Оо o   Яя ya
Пп p      

You are not supposed to learn these words by heart, but simply to become able to read them fluently.



ПАПА, папа

papa papa, dad  
ДАМА, дама


(dame), lady

This transcribes as "dama", no doubling of "m" required.

ДРАМА, драма (1) dramma


This transcribes as "drama". Someone may say he hears "dramma", but this is just a personal preference.

ДОКТОР, доктор doctr (2) doctor

"" itself is a German letter/sound, like in "fur". Do not confuse it with Russian "murky a/o" sound.

АЗОТ, азот azot azote, nitrogen  
АДРЕС, адрес (3) address address

transcription "adres" is OK.

АКРОБАТ, акробат acrbat (4) acrobat  
АНАНАС, ананас (5) ananas ananas, pine-apple  
АНОНИМ, аноним anoneem (6)

anonym, anonymous


(1) English P is Russian R. In Russian, the letter a is never sounded as in fate.
(2) We represent by a rather obscure o, sounded like -er.
(3) In Russian, the letter c (which is, by the way, called s) has always the sound of hard s.
(4) By , we represent an open o, nearly ah.
(5) H (English capital h) is always an n in Russian.
(6) Notice the И (inverted N), the Russian i, but sounded as in "machine" (= -ee-).

As a general rule the letter o has its normal sound (= -aw-) only in the stressed syllable of the word, e.g. : доктор, like our doctor.
When preceding the stress, it tends towards ah. (Самовар is sounded almost "samavar") ;
after the stress, it becomes obscure and is sounded almost like -er- (паспорт is nearly "passpert").