Selasa, 11 Februari 2014

The difference between you and You.

Another language themed blog for you.

At my job we currently have some visitors from Russia. This means a, that I get to practise my Russian and b, that I am reminded how abysmal my Russian is. I MUST try to keep it up more inbetween Russian visits/visitors.
Now, speaking Russian in a work situation has led to a new question about the complex Russian language... When should I say you and when should I say You?!

Or, explained better... Just like the French 'tu' and 'vous', Russian has a familiar and formal version of the word 'you'.

My understanding was always: if you are a family member or friend of a person you can address them using the informal 'ты' (tee) and if someone is simply an acquaintance, a colleague or older than you (and not a family member) you use the formal 'вы' (vee).

This leads me to a dilemma. I now consider my colleagues as friends but as they are my colleagues (and older than me *hides before they say I called them old*) should I ты (tee) or вы (vee) them?! 

"We're friends... but colleagues. HOW TO ADDRESS EACH OTHER IN RUSSIAN?!?!" The cast of Friend's laugh through their language pain. Maybe.

I decided to ask my Russian colleagues... And of course got 3 different answers:

"You should ALWAYS use 'вы' [vee] if someone is older than you. Even if you are best friends."

"At work you should address them with 'вы' [vee] but if you are friends you can say 'ты' [tee] outside of work."

"You can say 'ты' [tee] to anyone in any context if you are friends. But if you are unsure you should always use 'вы' [vee]."

Hmmm. Well, that was little to no help. I think I shall just stick to my own rule which is:

Say 'вы' (vee) until your friends are so embarrassed for you that they tell you the ты (tee) and вы (vee) rule again for the millionth time to explain that you can most definitely address them with ты.

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