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Ural Life & Culture
All You Need to Know about Yekaterinburg and the Ural Region
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  • Ekaterinburg vs. Yekaterinburg. With the y or without the y — and why?
     
    As someone put it, Rememeber: you are unique. Just like everyone else.  Thanks to globalization, we realize that we are different and unique.  
     
    We are becoming more self-conscious, more sensitive to multiple self-identities.  Apparently, this is why the tendency to transcribe proper names — write a name in the way locals pronounce it — has won over former ways of translation.
     
    Today, when I open The National Geographic Atlas of the World or other maps, I more often than not find there Napoli instead of Naples, Praha instead of Prague, Roma instead of Rome, and even Schweiz instead of Switzerland.  
     
    On some maps, we can see transcribed names of Russian cities accompanied by less correct but more traditional ones put in brackets: Moskva (Moscow) and Sankt-Peterburg (Saint-Petersburg).  
     
    Yekaterinburg, known as Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era, used to be a closed for foreigners city.  I, for one, saw my first foreigner when I was 19.  Truth be told, we had very few professional translators and no translation schools in the city.  So, when the city got its historical name back, we did not know how to write its name in English.  
     
    People would just flip a coin to make the decision, literally.  Some chose Ekaterinburg (like those working in the UK Consulate General).  Others preferred Yekaterinburg (those working in the US Consulate General).  Still others insisted on Catherinburg or Katherinburg because the city was named after Peter the Great’s wife Yekaterina known in English as Catherine the Great, but they did not get much support, anyway.
     
    Today, the myth that Ekaterinburg is "British English," while Yekaterinburg is "American English" is still with us. 
     
    The Russian letters я (ya), ю (yu), ё (yo), and е (ye), consist of two sounds.  To compare, the English letters g and j are pronounced as two sounds together in the words gin, gene, job, jeans and others, while we use two letters sh and th to reproduce one sound in the words like ship and that. A poser to you: how many sounds can you count in Shakespeare?
     
    We use the English letters ya to write Yaoundé and Yaroslavl, yu for Yukon and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, yo for Yorkshire and Yoshkar-Ola, and ye for Yemen and Yerevan.  Russian proper names registered by English-English dictionaries — Yeltsin, Yesenin, Yenisei, Yevtushenko and others — indicate clearly that the only way to write our city in English is Yekaterinburg
     
    On top of it, Russians themselves pronounce the name of the city Ye-ka-te-rin-`boork. So, why is Ekaterinburg so sticky, then?  I’m assuming this is because we associate the initial e with something new and technologically advanced, as in e-mail or e-bay. 
     
    Citizens of the world, while a linguistic feud is under way, enjoy the site, the city, and the Ural region!  It is a good place to be.  Come here and you will see for yourselves!
     
     
    How to deal with the police?
     
    In Yekaterinburg we do not have a tourist police service. Unfortunately, regular policemen speak English poorly.
     
    If a policeman stops you on a street and ask for I.D., just show him your passport with Russian visa. You may add, very politely, "po-zha-luy-s-ta" (please).
     
    Normally, a policeman checks your passport and lets you go.
     
    You have to deal with police if you lost your passport and your Russian visa. In that case you should do the following procedure:
     
    Go to any police station (ot-de-le-nie po-lit-zi-i) around the area where your passport was lost and get a special paper, which says that your passport was indeed lost (so called "sprav-ka"). It is very important to get this paper, otherwise, you won't be able to have the new visa issued.
     
    Make sure you still have your plane ticket (bil-et) with the date of return. If you don't, book a new flight and get the printed confirmation of booking. You can do it in any airline's office. Managers there normally speak English.
     
    Make some passport size photos on a special matte paper - available in any photo places (fo-to-sa-lon). The photos made in photomachines at the metro stations won't work.

    Go to your consulate to get a new passport (you should contact the consulate just after you lost the passport to start processing). Try to find a copy of your lost visa or at least of the invitation letter.

    Take all the documents and papers listed above (the paper from police, your plane ticket, photos, new passport, copy of your lost visa, if you have one) and take it to the office of the travel agency that issued your visa support.
     
    Usually, it's the same office where you had to make your visa registration. You will be fined about $150 US (may vary, of course) by immigration officials and, if everything will go all right, you'll be given a new visa in a few days.
    If you get lost
     
    If you get lost, the easiest way would be to speak English to young people. English is taught in every school. So, living in Yekat having only rudimentary Russian is very possible.
     
    If you prefer to speak Russian, you can ask: eez-vee-NEE-teh, (gdeh) OOH-lee-tsah…?" (Excuse me, (where is) the street…?) 
     
    Even if a Russian speaks poor English, he or she will try to help you, anyway.
     
     
    Public transport
     
    The public transportation system is efficient and allows you to move around the city or commute easily.
     
    Trolleybuses, trams (streetcars), and the subway (underground/metro) are municipal. Bus and minibus services are mostly provided by private companies, but there are municipal buses, too.
     
    A few words about minibuses. They are yellow-colored or white-colored, and we refer to them as "route taxis" (Russ. маршрутка; marsh-ROOT-kah). The routes have numbers, and the stops are written in Russian on the board on the side of each minibus. 
     
    The fare in all the public transport is 23 rubles (less than one dollar). Having paid the fare, you can travel any number of stops. 
     
    In Russian public transport, you must pay to a conductor. Usually, it is a lady with a black bag and a silver colored pin «Кондуктор». Our foreign friends prefer using trams (streetcars) because you do not have to say a single word, while minibuses may be crowded and you may be asked asked to pass other people's money to the conductor. Also, in some minibuses, there are no conductors, in which case people pay the driver.
     
    If you commute or travel to another town by bus or suburban train, you may need this phrase: SKOH-lkoh STOH-eet proh-YEZD? (How much is the fare/ticket?).
     
    Every stop is announced, but only in Russian. If you are not sure what stop you need, you may turn to a conductor:
     
    kahk proh-YEH-haht doh...? – How can I get to…?
    kah-KAH-yah SLEH-doo-shah-yah oh-stah-NOH-vkah? – What’s the next stop?
     
     
    Public transport. The E-card? What's that?
     
    In public transport, you can pay cash. Alternatively, you can buy a special card (E-card; yeh-CAR-tah; Russ. Е-карта). E-karta serves as an electronic ticket and is accepted by most of the city transport vehicles – municipal or not.
     
    The card can be bought at the newsstands or payment acceptance offices (Russ. Пункты приёма платежей) [http://www.ekarta-ek.ru/sales_points/karta].
     
    Moreover, there are special (personal) cards for school children, students, and all benefit holders. This type of cards is issued in E-karta offices within 30 days, after presentation of the necessary documents.  
     
    All cards can serve as a monthly (or 15 days) passage ticket for one, two or four means of transportation.
     
    E-karta offices:
    -- 269, 8 (Vosmogo) Marta ulitsa (8 марта, 269), 
    -- 30, Belorechenskaya ulitsa (Белореченская, 30), 
    -- 21, Vostochnaya (Восточная, 21),
    -- 2b, Melkovskaya ulitsa (Мельковская, 2 б),
    -- 75, Starykh Bolshevikov (Старых Большевиков, 75).
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