In English, you can say "In English, please!" to mean that you'd like a simpler explanation (when someone IS speaking English but using technical terms that a regular person wouldn't understand).

Could you do the same in Russian, where a Russian speaker would say "по-русски, пожалуйста!" to another Russian speaker to indicate that they want a simple "layman's terms" explanation of what is being said?

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    "По-русски" is not idiomatic in this (asking to explain) context. It will be understood and may even sound witty, but no, it's not idiomatic. Interesting that when coming from the teller, it is indeed idiomatic: "Тебе русским языком было сказано!" - "You were told in Russian!"
    – Alexander
    Mar 18 '19 at 17:34
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    @Alexander I would not say that in the given context the English sentence is some kind of idiom either. It's just a common "semi-ironic" phrase used in specific situations. Pretty much similar to this joke. Mar 18 '19 at 18:04
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    a more idiomatic equivalent Russian expression would rather be such as А попроще (нельзя)? / Нельзя ли попроще? / А если попроще/простым языком? Mar 18 '19 at 20:25

Yes, you can say По-русски, пожалуйста! in such context.
Though more often I'd expect they say (a bit less formal and maybe a bit less polite):
А по-русски? (meaning А [можно тоже самое, но] по-русски?).

Though speaking of politeness:

It is complicated enough to not claim that По-русски, пожалуйста! is actually much more polite than А по-русски?. I think it's the same for In English, please!: despite of please it's still not neutral enough to be safely used in any kind of conversation (and then more "native" А по-русски? sounds like a better match in similar situations).

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    why you've partially hided answer behind hover?
    – shabunc
    Mar 18 '19 at 19:56
  • @shabunc I'm not sure, probably because it's more about fields of application of the original English phrase... Mar 18 '19 at 21:20
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    @seven-phases-max: the tag you've used for your quotation >! is intended for things your average reader would likely want to opt-in to see: plot spoilers, NSFW content and similar. If you want to mark a piece of your answer as your own speculation (which by the way is perfectly fine and a great thing to do!), just put a disclaimer above the text. It's not like it's going to hurt anyone's feelings when seen accidentally.
    – Quassnoi
    Mar 18 '19 at 23:12
  • @Quassnoi Yes, thanks. I used the spoiler tag intentionally. I will edit it though a bit to strees the "opt-in" thing. Mar 19 '19 at 0:40
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    @shabunc, hide, hid, hidden. No offense, I pointed this just because I personally would appreciate if someone corrected me. Mar 19 '19 at 16:11
  1. To my ear, "По-русски, пожалуйста!" sounds a bit too harsh. Like an order. It would be more polite to say "Нельзя ли по-русски?" or, even better, "Вы не могли бы по-русски?"

  2. I can imagine a situation where "По-русски, пожалуйста!" is used figuratively, with a touch of sarcasm. Imagine a physicist who is giving a seminar for his colleagues, and is using excessively rigorous mathematical language peppered with unnecessarily abstract notions from pure mathematics, and is proud of his pompous self. Then his more down-to-earth colleagues may ask him: "По-русски, пожалуйста!"

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    or А теперь тоже самое, только по-русски Mar 18 '19 at 20:28

There is а common if not idiomatic expression in Russian that is used as a request to explain in simpler terms:

А можно перевести на понятный? (informal, but respectful)

Переведи на понятный. (informal, used with peers)


There is another one idiom for that: "по рабоче-крестьянски" (literally - "in the language of [factory] workers and peasants"). The term "рабоче-крестьянский" appeared in USSR, which declared itself as "the state of workers and peasants". This phrase refers to a low level of education of a typical factory worker or a peasant. For example:

Объясни мне по рабоче-крестьянски, как эта штука работает?

For my point of view, such request is less aggressive than "по-русски, пожалуйста".


This may sound rude or even racist as if you were hinting that the other person was non-Russian or their Russian was bad

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