I say “пончик”. You say “пышка”. Moscow and St Petersburg lexical differences

Moscow vs St Petersburg: differences in speech

It should not come as a surprise that Moscow and St Petersburg are old rivals. There is a never-ending dispute between two cities about which of one them is more cultured, more intelligent and more educated. Furthermore, they are not just different in their architecture and atmosphere, but also in the way its habitants speak. Did you know that there are certain rather vivid lexical differences in speech of those who live in Moscow and those who love in St Petersburg? Believe it or not, but some words that literally mean the same thing are written differently!

Парадная vs подъезд

The most famous example is “парадная” (paradnaya) versus “подъезд” (pod’ezd). There are so many jokes about it from both Moscovites and indigenous St Petersburg citizens. Both words mean the entrance to the building or the porch, but saying “парадная” in Moscow could really confuse the locals – just as saying “подъезд” in St Petersburg. Furthermore, do not be surprised if reading the American novel in Russian instead of the usual “бордюр” you will see a “поребрик”. Most likely the translator was from St. Petersburg.

There are plenty of other words that fall into such category, examples of which you can find below.

Moscow St Petersburg Meaning
Подъезд (pod’ezd) Парадная (paradnaya) The entrance to the building/porch
Бордюр (bordyur) Поребрик (porebrik) Curb (border dividing pavement and the road)
Пончик (ponchik) Пышка (pyshka) Doughnut
Батон (baton) Булка (bulka) Loaf of bread
Ластик (lastik) Резинка (rezinka) Rubber (in stationary)
Водолазка (vodolazka) Бадлон (badlon) Turtleneck sweater
Эстакада (estakada) Виадук (viadook) Flyover
Салки (salki) Пятнашки (pyatnasjki) Tag (game for kids)
Крайний (krainiy) Последний (posledniy) Last one (in line)

Certainly, the question about which city is more grammatically competent is pointless. Especially since the lexical differences are slowly fading away. Today, however, it is Moscow that is shaping the language norm due to majority of leading media outlets being located at the capital.

Have you come across these lexical differences?

Team EBC