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The short version of my question is: How can I idiomatically ask a Russian to talk quietly, regain his composure and calmness, stop being emotionally intrusive and domineering, and think in terms of rational arguments rather than emotions? My experience shows that Russians can easily raise their voices and become emotional, even in public places. I want a magic phrase that instantly stops such behavior. I want something like the Mongolian proverb "A bad person's voice is loud."

The rest of my post is not essential, so you can just skip the rest and answer the short version, but if you are curious about my motivation to ask this question, then read on.


I recently read an excellent article "10 Proverbs That Will Help You Understand the Mongolian Mindset" by Natso Baatarkhuu, and here is a proverb from that article:

A bad person's voice is loud (Муу хүний дуу чанга)

This might be something you notice right away–most Mongolians talk quietly, with little inflection. That can partly be attributed to this proverb. Loud conversation style with a high pitch is considered immature and evil. Talking softly and with little intonation can balance the idiosyncrasy of our language, which is lots of rough consonants at the base of the throat. When we think of a bad person with a loud voice, Adolf Hitler on a podium comes to mind.

My experience of watching some Russian movies and talking with Russian academic visitors at my university is that Russians can easily get emotional and raise their voices, at least by the standards of my culture. When Russians do so, they appear to lose their composure and to have little self-control. When I see this, I cringe inside because I hate seeing how others lose face.

For example, I watched the Russian movie "Место встречи изменить нельзя" with English subtitles (link) and was astonished by the behavior of Gleb Zheglov, who is one of the main positive characters of the movie. Despite being the head of a police department, he lost his face quite a few times, raising his voice and becoming a slave of his emotions. Here is an example: Scene.

I also noticed that Russians do not hesitate to talk loudly in public places, whilst for us it is considered rude to even talk on the phone in public transport.

I discussed these things with a Russian academic visitor, and he opined that it is rather a cultural thing. He sees raising voice and becoming emotional as a way of demonstrating sincerity, since emotions are difficult to fake. To explain this, he used the expression "to open the soul." He said that such behavior is not seen as a loss of face in the Russian culture. He even said that at worst, a man who raises his voice is seen as a domineering macho rather than a weakling who has little self-control.

I am not saying that all my compatriots always talk calmly and have utmost composure, and can show you a famous scene from our own movie, yet there seems to be a big difference in the frequency of emotional outbreaks and their overall perception.

Whatever the Russian cultural standards are, I myself do not tolerate such behavior for many reasons.

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    as far as behavior in public places is concerned it's not black and white, plus take into account that the movie was filmed in the late 70s depicting an era immediately after 1945... getting loud doesn't necessarily mean losing control although there's correlation... in the scene you linked they argue about principles, expressing emotions is a very natural thing in an argument, and they argue as friends and not as adversaries and not in a public place – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 17:23
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    the concept of losing face is foreign to Russian culture and to the Western in general, one can lose respect but not for talking loud and expressing emotions, because these aren't perceived as weakness warranting loss of respect – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 17:28
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    i doubt you can make your interlocutor instantaneously understand this fundamental cultural difference with a single magic phrase, it takes explanation and insight, although having them talk a little softer you can – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 17:36
  • please, ask question about Russian language - and about Russian language only. It's reads more like and essay - and essays just don't fit in here well. – shabunc Jun 30 '19 at 20:21
  • @shabunc : Okay, sure, I will pay attention to strictly focus on the Russian language in my future questions and will try to make them shorter. I just modified this post, making a short version of my question at the very beginning and saying that the rest is not essential and can be skipped, but explains my motivation to ask this question. – Mitsuko Jun 30 '19 at 21:28
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Well, as for "Место встречи изменить нельзя", the main positive character there is Володя Шарапов, Глеб Жеглов is more like a controversial one, the whole idea of the film is to make the audience decide by themselves as for how much positive Жеглов really is, when he is right and when he is wrong. The scene from this film you referred to is perhaps the key scene of the film, and it shows the edge where the opinions of Шарапов and Жеглов come to the utmost collision which remains unsolved within the course of the film. In that scene Жеглов is indignant and raises his voice to show how much he believes in what he does and in what he says.

As for the "magic phrase", I cannot give you something universal, it all heavily depends on a number of factors: how well you know the other person, how well the person knows you, the point of your discourse, the other person's temper, at what terms you and the other person are, how polite and educated the other person is, etc.

Naturally, the most neutral phrase is

Пожалуйста, говорите [по-]тише!

A bit trickier one will appeal to the other person's common sense:

Пожалуйста, не кричите, я вас и так понимаю! – Please, don't shout, I can well understand you [without your shouting]!

If you and the other person are friends and на ты, you can use a very familiar phrase

Что ты орёшь как резаный[-ая]!

This one uses an idiom, орать как резаный, which means 'to shout very loudly, like a domestic animal when it's killed'. This can be impolite only to the people with whom you are на вы, with friends it is OK, especially if you say it in a joking tone. That's a famous idiom, it is not shocking to anyone.

There is one more idiom you can use, but it is a bit archaic, still it will sound very Russian and will be understood:

Что ты кричишь во всю Ивановскую?

Кричать во всю Ивановскую means 'to shout very loudly, like the tzar's heralds when they announced the tzar's orders at the Ivanovskaya Square in front of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Kremlin, Moscow.' Using this idiom can make the other person stop and start thinking about how you know the idiom and why "Ivanovskaya", because not everyone knows the origin of the idiom, although most people heard it.

Or you can just say

Не кричи[те], а то голос сорвё[шь|те]! – Don't shout or you'll disrupt your voice!

This can be useful if your companion is a linguist/student/teacher, etc., that is the one who needs the good voice for work.

To my mind, the only way you can use a Russian proverb about shouting is the situation when you come to a company of people who speak much too loud, or you enter a room with such a company, you can make them stop shouting by saying

Что за крик, а драки нет? – What's the shout and still there's no fight?

This should be used wisely, best to your friends, or pupils, or children, because if you say that to some strangers in the street they can well follow your advice and start a fight ^_^.

In any way, there is no single "magic word" you need (there is actually one, MA-A-AЛЧА-А-А-АТЬ!!!, but it's definitely not the one you need). My advice is just making your Russian friends understand you hate shouting, reminding them about it all the time, soon they'll improve their speech habits or at least they'll learn to adjust them to you.

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    Wow, this is an excellent and very detailed answer, thanks a lot! – Mitsuko Jun 30 '19 at 16:02
  • I see in Wiktionary that there are two different words - резаный and резанный. Could you explain the choice of the first of these two words in орать как резаный? – Mitsuko Jun 30 '19 at 18:16
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    @Mitsuko i believe резаный is an adjective and doesn't require a complement, while резанный is a past passive participle and usually requires a compliment describing резанный by whom, how, when etc. – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 18:20
  • @БаянКупи-ка : What makes you think it is an adjective in this particular phrase? Just because it has a single н? :) – Mitsuko Jun 30 '19 at 18:24
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    @Mitsuko i guess it's my intimate knowledge of the Russian language, lack of a complement to describe it and its categorization in the Wiktionary резаный... if you write it with double H that would be a mistake because in this phrase it's not meant to be a participle, but truth be told many native speakers are likely to make a spelling mistake in this case... i wouldn't say that there's no phonetic difference at all, it's just very subtle – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 18:47
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To add to the already given answer:

Погромче нельзя? А то я тебя почти не слышу. = Can't you talk louder? I can barely hear you.

You have to say this with a smile and in a friendly manner. The usual reaction is that the interlocutor will be puzzled for a moment, then will apologize and start talking normally.

Another option:

Убавь громкость. = Reduce the sound level.

This is a usual command to reduce the sound level of a TV set or a stereo centre. By saying this phrase, you compare your interlocutor with a too loudly working TV set or stereo centre, whose sound level needs to be reduced.

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You can use these magic phrase and spells like "Кыш!", "Никшни !", "Цыц !", "Тихо !" "Молчать!" ..."Заткнись !"... But i think what the Magic don't work in the modern world. Or is somehow malfunctioned.

We have many claims against Adolf Hitler, but the high volume of the voice isn't the main one ... really...

We have many proverbs like these :

Cлово не воробей - вылетит не поймаешь..

Кто мало говорит, тот больше делает...

От одного слова - да на век ссора...

Язык мой - враг мой...

Молчание - золото..

or idioms like орать как сумашедший, вопить как очумелый...

But I don't think that they will have some kind of magical effect on someone, and we also have a considerable number of proverbs with the opposite point of view ... Somebody may start laughing at you using comparisons with Indians like Chingachgook or ... other ... comparisons ...

"such behavior is not seen as a loss of face in the Russian culture" - it's the truth. I realized that you are experiencing a culture shock, but in general, I think you should think more broadly:>

i think, you will be interested to read this passage from Pikul: http://rulibs.com/ru_zar/prose_history/pikul/f/j38.html

P.S. кто громко орет, тому бог подает. No,it isn't the idiom. The my joke :>

P.P.S And we also have such an idiom as "Китайские церемонии" ... which can be prolongate to Japanese, of course ...:> or to Mongols if needed...

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  • down-voted since this answer basically provides misleading advises to a language learner mixed with quite irrelevant data. – shabunc Feb 28 '20 at 21:59
  • what the question, such the answer. –  Пилум Feb 28 '20 at 22:48
  • it doesn't work this way - one can not justify low quality answer by the (subjectively) low-quality question. – shabunc Feb 28 '20 at 22:54

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