First of all, don’t worry. If you are learning Russian you will definitely understand Russians from all over Russia. Still, each regions and cities have their own differences and features in their speech. Those differences make each city unique and emphasize on their individualities.
For example, people in St. Petersburg call the famous street food шаверма, while in Moscow it is called шаурма. Muscovites pack their grocery purchase in пакеты and not in кульки (bags). In cold weather residents of the capital put on a водолазка (turtleneck) while people in St. Petersburg prefer to call this wardrobe item бадлон.
There are, however, words that only those who live in Moscow will understand. This is especially true for places and names. The Kursk railway station in the capital is called Курсачом, VDNkh – выдохом, the Island Losinka Лосникой and Novorizhskoye Highway новой Ригой. Below you will find other abbreviations Muscovites like to use for metro stations and certain buildings.
You will rarely hear locals in Moscow say the long names of the metro stations. For example, the station Библиотека имени Ленина (Lenin Library) is simply called Библиотекой (the Library). The short abbreviation ЧП in the speech means nothing more than Чистые пруды (Christye Prudy).
Пушка means Пушкинская площадь (Pushkinskaya Square) or the metro station Пушкинская (Pushkinskaya). The well-known station Комсомольская (Komsomolskaya) is simply called Комса (Komsа). Южка (Yuzhka)– under this short name residents of the capital can mean both the Юго-Западная (Yugo-Zapadnaya) metro station and the Южная (Yuzhnaya) metro station.
Some buildings in Moscow have also received nicknames. The Лужники stadium (Luzhniki) is nicely called Лужа (puddle) while XXC refers to the Храм Христа Спасителя (Cathedral of Christ the Saviour). The abbreviation ГЗ is familiar to all students of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. One of the seven Stalinist skyscrapers – the Главное здание МГУ (main building of the Moscow State University) houses classrooms, dormitories, meeting rooms and a scientific library.
Золотые мозги (golden brains)– this is how Muscovites call the building of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences on Leninsky Prospekt. The fact is that the roofs of the high buildings of the Presidium are decorated with a metal structure sparkling in the sun, in which you can see the resemblance to the human brain.
Furthermore, residents do not hesitate to call the large libraries in Moscow familiarly: Ленинка (Lenin Russian State Library), Историчка (State Public Historical Library) and Иностранка (Library of Foreign Literature).
Words to use to sound like a Muscovite
There are actually several terms used for the word eraser in Russia. The most common ones are резинка (rezinka) or стёрка (styorka) but nevertheless, if you want to sound like a local in Moscow you definitely should start using ластик instead. I can definitely approve of that.
The actual meaning of палатка is tent. If somebody refers to a палатка in a city though, it’s most likely to be a corner shop. You will find plenty of them in the Russian capital. In other places in Russia a corner shop is mainly referred to as ларёк.
Вы сходите? (Vi skhodite)
This expression is very commonly used in Moscow and translates to “are you getting off?”. When you are using public transport, especially during the rush hour passengers will start asking others if they are getting off. In other Russian regions the expression is usually Вы выходите?
This word refers to queue ticket. Many places in Moscow like banks, hospitals or even food places will have an electronic queue system where you get a numbered ticket to make things simple. It is called талон.
На местности (Na mestnosti)
This expression doesn’t necessarily mean that you are inside your house but rather in your neighbourhood and you are not planning to go anywhere far from there. A good English translation to this expression would probably be “keeping it local”.
Today big cities quickly blur differences, imposing their rhythm, vocabulary as well as slang. The cities retain to their own characteristics. Nevertheless, there are differences even in slang expressions which some decades ago sounded unusual and strange. But because language is ever changing words that were once used as slang are now included in dictionaries and became part of the language norm. Fighting slang is futile, say philologists.