Thursday, May 7, 2009

How the Russian President is Helping Me Learn Russian

Dmitry Medvedev's new LiveJournal blog has received some buzz (hey, he got ink in Wired magazine, I consider that buzz). This led me to discover that he's been video blogging on the official Kremlin website for over a year ( True, some would argue that's not really a blog since, unlike his new Live Journal blog, it doesn't allow comments.

But what matters for our purposes is that the Kremlin vlog includes full transcripts in English, which means it can be used as a language learning tool. Print out the transcript, then listen to Medvedev's three- or four-minute video clip. You can pause him, replay him, whatever you need to pick up some new vocabulary and phrases.

Give it a try if you're tired of listening to the standard learn-to-speak-Russian dialogues about traveling to Russia, finding your hotel, or meeting a new colleague, and want some practice listening to a native speaker talk about current events. Of course, you might not like everything you hear. Medvedev isn't blogging about fun things to do in Moscow--he is the voice of the Kremlin, after all. In one video he talks about how no one country should dominate Internet development (gee, I wonder what country he might be referring to). In today's post, Medvedev expresses his disdain for those who rewrite history to undermine Russia's role in World War II.

It's a learning opportunity on several levels.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And the winning goal was scored by...

Сергей Федоров!

Александр Семин (Alexander Semin) scored the first Capitals goal. Good night for the Russians.

Game night!

Here are some useful phrases for a night like tonight, when your team is in the Stanley Cup playoffs after managing to come back from a two game deficit to force a game 7, and they simply must go on to destroy the other teams in the conference that you hate so much (look out, Pittsburgh):

First, let's get in some digs before the game:
Мы поставим Нью Йорк Рэнджерс раком.
(Lit., We will put the NY Rangers in a crawfish position.) We will turn you into a small animal that scurries away backwards!

Следующая игра для Рэнджерс--гольф.
The next game for the Rangers will be golf.

And to support your team:
(Lit., Puck! Puck!) Get a goal!

Отдай шайбу!
Give back the puck!

Судья купи озки.
Referee, buy some glasses.

Пасс, удар, гол!!
Pass, shot, score!!

And when it's all over...
Я люблю хоккей!
I love hockey! (Your team just won.)

Я не люблю хоккей
I hate hockey. (Your team just lost.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Politics as usual in Sochi

Sounds like this election in Sochi was more what you'd expect in a Russian election than the earlier election in Mozhaisk. Too bad about those seven other candidates who were disqualified due to clerical errors...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Мы работали в огороде!

We worked in the garden! This is probably my favorite time of year: весна (this one should be obvious, but that means spring). We are trying some new vegetables and expanding our herb selection this year so I'm extra excited. I asked my husband to help me write the labels in both languages so I could try to pick up some produce vocabulary, which is very important since Amerikanka is a вегетарианка (vegetarian).

Here's what we hope to enjoy this summer:

squash кабачки
flat squash патисоны
tomatoes помидоры
beets свеклы
radishes редиски
cucumbers огурцы
canteloupe дыни
carrots морковки
cabbage капуста
lettuce салат
dill укроп
parsley петрушка
rosemary розмарин
thyme тимьян
basil базилик

Monday, April 20, 2009

One sign that you're in a cross-cultural marriage

How many of you married folks out there can honestly say you don't know how to spell your spouse's middle name?

I can say that. It pains me, but it's true.

As you may know, Russian middle names--patronymics--are a variation of the father's first name. For boys, the patronymic ends in -ovich or -evich, and for girls it will end in -ovna or -evna.

So here is my husband's middle name: Геннадьевич (I just looked it up on his passport, and oh great, there's a soft sign in it).

I'll hand it to you in English: Gennadievich. Father's name, Gennady. I'm going to try it again without cheating: Геннадьевич.

OK, I think I'm getting it, but the real test will be to try it again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Handy phrases for when your team loses

In honor of the Washington Capitals' playoff game loss last night, here are some Russian phrases to pull out when your favorite team is screwing up:

The goalie is a hole and the team is a sieve.
Вратарь дырка команда решето.

The defense is total crap.
Защита полное дерьмо.

And here's what you say about the other team:
Им просто повезло.
They just got lucky.

Here's a dandy for when a ref makes a bad call:
Судью на мыло!
Turn the referee into soap!

The last one is my favorite. According to my husband, that's a really common one at all kinds of sporting events.