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Thread: Michele A. Berdy. Articles in The Moscow Times

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    Michele A. Berdy. Articles in The Moscow Times

    https://themoscowtimes.com/authors/18






    http://community.livejournal.com/learn_ ... ad=7042682

    "The 'Arm' Word Comes in Handy

    By Michele Berdy

    Рука: hand or arm

    One of the classic "proofs" that Russians are загадочные (mysterious), чудные (odd) or simply не такие, как мы (not like us) is the arm/hand issue. In English, the words are separate and distinct; in Russian, рука is used for both. "Aha!" Westerners say. "Russians are so odd they can't even distinguish their hands from their arms!"

    Actually, Russians seem to have a pretty good grasp, as it were, of the distinction. Furthermore, there is rarely any confusion, mostly because context fills in the blanks. It's hard to imagine a context in which дай руку would mean "give me your arm" or in which you might think рукопожатие meant an "armshake" rather than a handshake.

    The only anatomical confusion I can think of is analogous to English:
    -- Федя сломал руку! -- Где? -- На пляже. -- Нет, я имел в виду, в каком месте сломал? (-- Fedya broke his arm! --Where? -- On the beach. -- No! I meant where on his arm?)

    If you need to be more specific -- say, when talking to a doctor -- you can use the word кисть (hand) or запястье (wrist).

    Russian has dozens of expressions that involve hands, many of them similar to English. For example, signs at a demonstration can demand "Руки прочь от Байкала!" and "Hands off Lake Baikal!" in happy harmony. And поднимать руку has the same meaning as the English "to raise a hand against": Он на женщину руку поднять не может! (He couldn't raise a hand against a woman.)

    But other Russian hand expressions either have slightly different meanings or are expressed a bit differently in English. For example, the notion of "a hand not rising" indicates indecision in Russian: Уже пять лет не ношу эти туфли, а выбросить -- рука не поднимается. (I haven't worn these shoes for five years, but I can't bring myself to toss them out; literally, "my hand doesn't rise to toss them.")

    Руки потирать is to "rub your hands together" in satisfaction, delight or happy anticipation. This is the same in English, although we are more likely to add a bit of clarification. Take, for instance, this poetic example: Ты руки потирал от наших неудач. (You rubbed your hands together in delight over our misfortunes.) In English you might even leave
    out the gesture: You delighted in our misfortunes.

    Руками замахать means to wave your arms around, but it indicates disagreement, as if one were thrashing the air to get rid of a bad smell. Она замахала руками и сказала: "Оставь риторику!" (She waved away his words and said, "Stop blathering!")

    Руками и ногами упираться means to "resist with hands and feet," that is, to refuse to do something. The image is like, say, a cat that one is trying to put in a carrier to drive out to the dacha. This spread-eagle embrace might be described in less-polite terms in English (or in Russian, for that matter), but figuratively we express the concept with slightly different body parts. Можешь упираться руками и ногами, но мы тебя всё равно женим. (You can fight it tooth and nail, but we'll marry you off.)

    Руки ломать is literally "to break one's hands" -- a more vivid version of the English "to wring one's hands." Both mean "to be terribly upset about something." In English you might express the meaning rather than the gesture. Не плачь, Аннушка, не ломай рук. (Don't cry, Annushka, don't despair.)

    Руки чешутся -- literally "my hands are itching" -- conveys an eagerness to do something. In English, only the verb is the same: Так хочется поскорее начать ремонт, аж руки чешутся! (I'm just itching to get started on remodeling.)

    Руки нагреть -- literally "to warm one's hands" -- is a homey gesture for the nasty art of getting kickbacks or windfalls off something or someone. Чиновники нагрели руки на дефолте. (Bureaucrats got rich off the default.)

    In other words, if you've got an itch for money -- scratch it!


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter. "
    Last edited by Lampada; August 13th, 2016 at 09:30 AM.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://pda.moscowtimes.ru/article.php?aid=174290

    Friday, February 9, 2007. Issue 3593. Page 8.

    Talking About the Age of Obsolescence

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Женщина бальзаковского возраста: a woman of a certain (or uncertain) age ###ie

    ###Технический прогресс -- вещь великая (technical progress is a great thing). But there is one problem: It's going so fast it makes me feel old. Way back when -- that is, about 20 years ago -- you had a decade or so to enjoy your VHS tapes before DVDs took over, and your computer broke before you needed to upgrade it. Now, all of this happens in the blink of an eye, and before you've even worked the bugs out of that snazzy printer you bought, your computer guy tells you sadly: Ваш принтер морально устарел (Your printer is obsolete).

    Cruel, cruel world.

    The basic verb for getting old in Russian is стареть, but you need to pay attention to prefixes. Устаревать/устареть is the verb pair you use for an inanimate object that is becoming obsolete. But устареть can also be used to describe anything that is out of date: У Вас устаревшая информация. Наша фирма уже давно ничего не производит. (Your information is out of date. Our company hasn't been involved in production for years.)

    For human beings, you can use the unadorned стареть: Он стареет (He's getting on in years.) After you see someone for the first time in several years, you might exclaim: Как он постарел! (He's really aged.) You might also use the verb состариться: За год после кончины жены он сильно состарился. (He aged tremendously in the year after his wife died.)

    If someone has gotten so old or decrepit he seems to have lost the will to live, you could use the verb сдать: После трагедии он здорово сдал. (After the tragedy he just seemed to fall apart.)

    In Russian you can politely refer to an older person as пожилой: Пожилым людям трудно привыкать к новым условиям жизни. (It's hard for elderly people to adapt to the new living conditions.) Старый is plain old "old." Надо помогать дедушке! Он же старый человек! (You have to help your grandfather. He's an old man.) You often hear old people referred to as старик/старичок (old man) and старуха/старушка (old woman), but these can also be terms of affection for your much younger peers: Слушай, старик, давай сходим в баньку. (Come on old man, let's go to the bathhouse.)

    On those dark days when you are feeling your age or older, your Russian friends -- kind, loyal, devoted and cheerful liars that they are -- will protest: Ты -- старая? Ты же во цвете лет! You -- old? You're still in the bloom of youth!) Or: Ты в расцвете сил! (You're at the peak of your powers!) Or the delightful: Ты в самом соку! (You're in your prime, literally "you're right in the juice").

    These middle-aged folks can be neutrally called люди средних лет. Middle-aged women are sometimes called женщины бальзаковского возраста (literally "women of a Balzacian age"). This refers to the age of the older women Balzac wrote about fondly.

    A less fond designation is женщины не первой молодости (women past their first youth). A most un-fond designation is the jocular женщины не первой свежести (literally "women past their first freshness"). This comes from the Soviet designation of продукты второй свежести ("food in the second category of freshness") and unfortunately might be translated as "women past their sell-by date."

    So what is this euphemistic "certain age?" Here it gets tricky. Russian blogs insist that Balzac's women "of a certain age" were 25 to 30, but when I conducted an informal poll of Russians to find out what бальзаковский возраст meant to them, I got a range of 35 to 45.

    But one blogger begs to disagree. He clarifies the question this way: Особы не первой молодости, лет под тридцать и более... (Women past their first youth -- going on 30 and older ...)

    A 28-year-old woman -- past her first youth? Cruel, cruel world.

    Michele Berdy is a Moscow-based interpreter and translator.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Friday, June 9, 2006. Issue 3429. Page 8.

    Getting Your Translation Money's Worth
    By Michele A. Berdy

    Переводчик: translator, a highly skilled professional

    I need a vacation. I know because the run-of-the-mill follies of translation and interpretation that I usually barely notice have been driving me nuts lately. I keep writing on different themes and how to tackle them in Russian, but maybe I should write a bit about what translation and interpretation are.

    They are professions. The ability to translate is very different from language competence. If someone can understand another language or speak it, it doesn't mean he or she can translate it.

    This means that you shouldn't hire your sister-in-law's friend's daughter who just graduated from a teaching institute with a major in English to translate your hotel guest information. Because if you do, she will write: In extreme cases turn to the reception service. The Russian guests know what to do (в случае экстремальной ситуации обращайтесь в службу приёма), but English speakers will have a hard time getting "in case of emergency, contact reception" from her efforts. Russian guests will also understand 12.00 – единый расчётный час, but English speakers will be baffled by "12:00 are a settling hour." Make that "Check out is at noon."


    Or if you ask your teenage nephew -- "он знает английский в совершенстве" (he knows English perfectly) -- to translate Московская консерватория имени Чайковского, it may come out as the Moscow Conservatory in the name of Tchaikovsky.

    When you hire translators, you should expect them to translate everything and not leave out the hard bits. So you shouldn't pay someone for rendering the phrase "the next stage is the road show" as: следующий этап -- road-show. It is also cheating to just transliterate. "Shopping mall" shouldn't appear in a Russian text as шопинг-молл. If you get a text with half the words highlighted by your spell-checker, you're dealing with an amateur.

    You can also expect translators to find the accepted English spelling of non-Russian names and organizations, instead of just translating from Russian (or vice versa). That means that Всемирная организация здравоохранения will not be rendered as the All-World Organization of Public Health, but the World Health Organization. And the Chinese province of Хейлуйдзян will not be Kheiluidzyan, but Heilongjiang. A client should expect this even if half the translator's fee goes to pay the Internet bill for checking it all.

    These might seem like minor annoyances, but examples of mistranslation are legion. I'll bet anything the folks who needed to translate the name of a recent student journalist competition didn't ask an experienced professional for help. So Russia Beyond the Headlines (Россия не по газетам) was billed as Россия Вне Стереотипов (Russian Beyond Stereotypes). If you didn't know better, you would think young Russians were all bizarrely obsessed with stereotypes about their country.

    If you have an interpreter at a meeting, you should expect constant, complete translation. If you ever have to ask, "Why are they laughing?" your interpreter isn't on the job. Interpreters always speak in the first person, in part so the audience can tell if the speaker is referring to himself or someone else. If you hear "He said that ... " (Он говорил, что ...) -- you've got a novice. Get the hook.

    And if you have a VIP coming to speak, hire a VIP interpreter. I know what American actor Richard Gere and Turkish author Orhan Pamuk said in Russia, but the Russian-speaking audience didn't always hear it.

    Also make sure your translator knows the subject. There are no universal translators, so run from anyone who promises любой текст в любой области в кратчайший срок (any text in any field in record time). I may be a native speaker of English, but I can't tell a widget from a washer, so don't ask me to translate a Russian technical manual.

    Although I did do a pretty good job on those VCR instructions, didn't I?

    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.russiansabroad.com/news/Russ ... leId=38363

    Taking Plunge Into Plumbing Nightmare

    By Michele A. Berdy
    To Our Readers


    Ремонт сантехники: Plumbing repairs, an expensive, time-consuming, intrusive process to fix broken plumbing; can be translated as "the seventh circle of hell."


    If I were to write an up-to-date, truly useful Russian-English phrase book, right after the most basic sentence all foreigners should know -- "My papers are in order" (мои документы в порядке) -- the next phrase would be "I need a plumber right away!" (Мне срочно нужно вызвать сантехника!) In my funky apartment, water is always flowing where it shouldn't and not flowing where it should.

    Should this happen to you (and it will, believe me) call your local ремонтно-эксплуатационное управление, or РЭУ, (housing maintenance and repair administration) right away. They are commonly referred to as коммунальщики (the utilities folks).

    The dispatcher will ignore your first 10 calls, so call early and call often. If you are lucky, he will say: я принял вашу заявку, и слесарь придёт сегодня после обеда (I've taken your order and the plumber will be there after lunch today). Слесарь is an all-purpose word that means anything from plumber to locksmith to repairman, depending on the context. Сантехник is a more specialized professional, trained to deal with broken pipes and leaky toilets. All are hired based on their capacity to consume enormous amounts of alcohol and still tell a wrench from a hacksaw. После обеда means any time between 2 p.m. and the end of the following week. Prepare to wait.

    If you are suffering from nothing more than a leaky faucet, you can say: кран на кухне течёт (the kitchen tap drips). If the drip is a torrent, you can say (to get more prompt service): из крана сильно течёт (the faucet is gushing!). Hopefully, the plumber will just have to change the washer (заменить прокладку) and not put in a new faucet altogether (поменять кран). To do either he'll have to turn off the water, so it is good to know (having asked your landlord ahead of time) where the turn-off valves are (где вентили, чтобы перекрывать воду?). In my apartment, built during more communal times, the turn-off valves are in the apartment next to mine, accessed through the next подъезд. This makes simple home repairs a nightmare of negotiation and coordination.

    If, on the contrary, the problem is water that doesn't flow, i.e. a clogged drain, the dispatcher will first try to solve the problem over the phone. If that doesn't work, he'll send in the boys with the plumber's snake (трос), and you can watch 30 years of the previous tenants' grease and gook get scraped from the pipes.

    Or let's say -- hypothetically, of course -- that you come back from a delightful Christmas vacation in placid American suburbia to discover the absolute worst plumbing crisis known to post-Soviet man: трубу прорвало (a pipe burst). This is at least a three-day crisis. Day one: Call the plumber, who determines the nature and scope of the disaster and writes a shopping list of plumbing supplies for you to buy. Day two: Go to the строительный рынок (building supplies market) with the shopping list and buy mysterious items. Day three: Empty out three storage spaces and give up your apartment to two drunken plumbers who will enrich your vocabulary of Russian obscenities and drench your carpets before finishing the job.

    And then there's Day four: Go to the downstairs neighbors and find out the damage there. Залили (или затопили) соседей (we flooded the neighbors) is one of the most chilling phrases in the Russian language. Not only will you have to pay for your repairs, you'll have to pay to repaint, re-wallpaper and refit whatever your gushing pipes ruined below you. At this point, закон подлости (Murphy's Law) is sure to kick in. You will discover that just before the holidays your neighbors finished евроремонт (European-style remodeling), and you will have to pay to fly in three Italian kitchen remodeling specialists, along with a bin of silk wallpaper and a crate of handmade ceramic tiles.

    Which is why the third essential sentence in my phrasebook is: Разливай водку! (Start pouring the vodka!)


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://compling2.narod.ru/volodja.html

    Friday, May 14, 2004. Page 7.

    Linguistic Highlights of the Putin Presidency

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Надо исполнить закон всегда, а не только тогда, когда схватили за одно место: You have to obey the law all the time, not just when they've got you by the short and curlies.
    History will judge Vladimir Putin's presidency, but judging by a new book -- Путинки: Краткий сборник изречений президента (Putinki: A Short Collection of the President's Sayings) -- we can say one thing for certain: Putin has revolutionized the language of the Russian presidency.

    His are not the folksy inaccuracies of Mikhail Gorbachev (ложьте for положите), the verbal tics of Boris Yeltsin (Понимаешь? You know?) or the
    malapropisms of Viktor Chernomyrdin (Мы всегда можем уметь -- We can always be able). And it's not that Putin's speech is crude (though it can be salty), street-tough (though cop-talk sneaks in) or inappropriate (though it comes close). But it is plain-talking, straight, down-to-earth Russian. He calls it like he sees it.

    Take this comment about Russian participation in Iraq: В ответ на предложение, чтобы российские военнослужащие сейчас приняли участие в операции в Ираке, так и хочется сказать: нашли дураков. (In response to the proposal that Russian armed forces take part in operations in Iraq, you want to say -- right, like we're that stupid.) Or one of his many comments directed at the oligarchs: Все должны раз и навсегда для себя понять -- надо исполнять закон всегда, а не только тогда, когда схватили за одно место.
    (Everyone has to understand once and for all that you have to obey the law all the time, not just when they've got you by the short and curlies.) Or his comments on criminals: Когда смотришь на это, кажется, что своими руками задушил [преступников]. Но это эмоции. (When you see all that, you feel like you could strangle the criminals. But that's just emotion talking.) Or on terrorists: Когда Буш говорит о Бен Ладене как "о злодее" -- он очень интеллигентно выражается. У меня другие определения. Но я не могу их использовать в средствах массовой информации. (When Bush calls bin Laden a villain, he's speaking very properly. I'd use other words. But I can't use them in the mass media.)

    He's clear about Russia's position in the world: Россия не стоит с протянутой рукой и ни у кого ничего не просит. (Russia is not standing
    around with its hand outstretched; we're not asking anyone for anything.)
    Or more poetically: Она [Россия] как птица, будет хорошо летать, если будет опираться на два крыла [Европа и Азия]. (Russia is like a bird; she'll fly well if she is supported by two wings [Europe and Asia].) Or more logically: Если мозги утекают, значит они есть. Уже хорошо. Значит они высокого качества, иначе они никому не были бы нужны и не утекали. (If there is a brain drain, it means there are brains here. That's a good start. It means that they are high-quality or else no one would want them and there would be no brain drain.)

    And he's not afraid to call Russia on some of its failings: У нас старинная
    русская забава -- поиск виновных. (We have an old Russian pastime: search for the guilty.) Neither is he afraid to admit to some of the temptations he experiences as president: Не могу выйти за рамки Конституции России, но иногда очень хочется. (I can't operate outside of the framework of the Russian Constitution, although sometimes I'd really like to.) Самое простое -- махать шашкой, рубить головы и выглядеть на этом фоне крутым руководителем. (The easiest thing to do is rattle your saber, cut off some heads and look like a tough-guy leader.)

    Nor does he spare his former co-workers: Спецслужбы не должны совать свой нос в гражданское общество. (The secret services shouldn't stick their nose into civil society.)

    Why does this go down so well? My theory is that he owes his great
    popularity with the Russian public to the way he speaks. He's the first
    Russian president who sounds like the guy next door.


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Not by Bread Alone

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Хлебное место: a cushy job, a good trading spot, a money-producer

    You probably never thought much about bread until you came to Russia. But хлеб (bread) in Russia is serious business, and linguistically a bit confusing. It's definitely more than just the stuff on the outside of a sandwich.

    The first thing you learn is the difference between белый (white) bread and чёрный (black) bread, which is really not black at all; it's what we foreigners call brown, rye or pumpernickel bread. Life's a dream until you go to St. Petersburg, where хлеб only means brown bread, and white bread is called булка (a roll elsewhere in Russia) or батон (a loaf everywhere else). The phrase Сходи в булочную и купи хлеба и булку means in St. Petersburg, "Go to the bakery and buy some rye bread and a loaf of white," while in Penza it means, "Go to the bakery and buy some bread and a roll."

    Then there are бублики (soft ring-shaped rolls); баранки (hard ring-shaped rolls and slang for a car steering wheel); сушки (very, very hard ring-shaped rolls, something like pretzels); and калачи (soft rolls that look like an old-fashioned lock or a purse with a handle). Not to mention лаваш (lavash), which refers to several varieties of white breads made traditionally in the Caucasus that can be as thin as a piece of paper (in Moscow this is often called армянский -- Armenian) or thick (often called грузинский -- Georgian). And now you can also find французский багет (French baguette), which should not be confused with what is produced in багетная мастерская. This might sound like a French bakery, but it's actually a studio for framing pictures.


    Хлеб also refers to grain in general, so the question, Хороший хлеб, но как его убрать? doesn't mean the baffling, "This is good bread, but how can we clean it up?" but rather, "The grain is good, but how are we going to harvest it?"

    Хлеб is synonymous with the means of survival or livelihood. Надо зарабатывать себе на хлеб means "I need to make a living" (literally "to earn money for bread"). Он лишил её куска хлеба means, "He took away her means of livelihood" (literally, he deprived her of a piece of bread).

    But beware -- False Friend Alert: Да, работа скучная, но это мой хлеб. (Yes, the work is boring, but it's my bread and butter.) In English, the expression "bread and butter" means a basic source of income, but in the Russian the expression зарабатывать на кусок хлеба с маслом (literally "to work for a piece of bread with butter") means to earn enough for some luxury.

    Anything that is income-producing is хлебный, either in reference to a specific place (that is good for trade) or a job that lets you rake in the dough. Это хлебное место. (That's a cushy job.) Or: Для работников ГАИ этот перекрёсток -- хлебное место. (For the traffic cops this intersection is a great money-producer, i.e. a good place for taking in fines.)

    But: не хлебом единым жив человек. (Man does not live by bread alone.) In fact, bread can be downright spiritual: У вас хлеба духовного просят! (They're asking you for spiritual sustenance!)

    Finally, when bread is combined with salt, it's the traditional sign of Russian hospitality. Хлеб да соль (bread and salt) were two things every peasant wanted: bread as the basic, salt as the luxury. The adjective from these two foodstuffs is a nice old-fashioned word that means "hospitable." Мы часто ходим к ним в гости -- они хлебосольные, всегда рады гостям. (We often visit them -- they're hospitable, always happy to see guests.)

    And this leads to a Hostess Alert: Хлеб на столе -- и стол престол, а хлеба ни куска -- и стол доска. (When there's bread on the table, it's a throne, but when there's no bread on the table, it's just a board.)


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.eng.yabloko.ru/Forums/Main/posts/1197.html
    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7051.cfm

    February 7, 2003

    The Limits of Legislating on Language

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Yuzabilnost saita: the user-friendliness of a web site.
    I have been thoroughly enjoying the debate in the State Duma and the press on the new language law, particularly concerning the use of "non-standard language (nenormativnaya leksika). I don't believe obscene language can be "banned" -- as the new legislation tries to do -- if only because sometimes only "non-standard" language can adequately describe Russian reality.

    Just the other day one of my co-workers asked me, "kak tebe dvizheniye v Moskve?" (How do you like driving in Moscow?) and I replied, "esli ty khochesh uslyshat, kak ya khorosho materyus po-russki, ya tebe otvechu"(If you want to hear how well I can swear in Russian, I'll answer). Besides, although Americans love to regulate human behavior with laws more than just about anyone else on the planet, it seems to me that if your mother didn't teach you when you can use "non-standard language" (e.g. in the car with a co-worker) and when you cannot (e.g. from the podium at a government meeting) you're not likely to learn it from the legal code.

    But, lover of the Russian language that I am, I do sympathize with attempts to keep Russian Russian. Why use kreativnaya gruppa (creative team) when there is an exact native Russian equivalent -- tvorcheskaya gruppa? Do you really need to say kontent-analiz instead of analiz soderzhaniya? To me, "ya provela analiz soderzhaniya teleperedach" means "I did a content-analysis of TV shows," while "ya provela kontent-analiz teleperedach" means "I did a fancy, Western-style content analysis of TV shows, which indicates how hip and well-traveled I am." Russians call this vypendrivaniye or vypendryozh. I call it blowing hot air.

    On the other hand, most foreign phrases that have entered the language are used either because the word doesn't exist in Russian or because the
    Russian word or phrase has unwanted connotations.

    Take the word manager -- upravlenets. "Naznachili Ivana Ivanovicha
    direktorom. Neplokhoi variant -- on khoroshy upravlenets" means "They
    appointed Ivan Ivanovich director. Not a bad choice -- he's a good manager." But if you choose the word upravlenets, you're more likely to
    convey the sense of "old-style director" -- a man in his mid-fifties, who ran a cement factory in Soviet times and knew how to wrangle budget money.
    But if you say, "on khoroshy menedzher," the connotation is more "new, Western-style manager" -- the kind of guy who can read a spread-sheet and knows something about marketing and rational use of personnel.

    Other economic terms like marketing, franchaizing or master-liz have entered the language as transliterations because they simply didn't exist
    in Russian, and it's easier to borrow the word than use a sentence-long explanation.

    The one area where the battle is completely lost is the world of computers and the Internet. No one is ever going to call their computer vychislitelnaya mashina, not only because it's too long and cumbersome, but also because these days you use your computer for just about everything but calculating (vychisleniye). Kibord, veb-sait, onlain, chat, (and the verb chatatsya), optsii... . You can forget trying to find Russian equivalents.

    Recently, computer folks have started to refer to yuzabilnost saita -- user-friendliness of sites. There is a way to say this in standard Russian: If baby-friendly hospitals are bolnitsy dobrozhelatelnogo otnosheniya k
    rebyonku, you could call it sait dobrozhelatelnogo otnosheniya k polzovatelyu, or maybe udobny dlya polzovaniya sait -- but I wouldn't bet
    it will catch on.

    Russian web-surfers who think that "R U OK?" is good, standard English are not going to futz around with compound sentences. And besides, they didn't just transliterate the word, they Russified it with a good old Russian
    suffix. Their mothers should be proud.

    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.efl.ru/forum/threads/4288/

    Mouthing Off

    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.

    A new guide to current Russian youth slang helps aging hipsters -- foreign-born and local -- stay smooth with the changin' times.

    By Michele A. Berdy

    You've been studying Russian for years, living in Moscow for nearly a decade. You watch television, read the newspapers, enjoy evenings with Russian friends and communicate competently with your business partners. And then, one day, your 22-year-old office assistant says, Надо забомбить и трогать. We have to bomb them and touch them? Or your teenage step-daughter tells you, хватит колбаситься! That's enough sausage-making? What on earth are they talking about?

    Welcome to the world of Russian slang. "The Big Dictionary of Youth Slang" (Большой словарь молодёжного сленга) by Svetlana Levikova, published by Fair Press, can guide you through the thicket of this jargon. For the uninitiated (i.e., anyone older than 30, regardless of nationality), надо забомбить и трогать means "We have to grab a bite to eat and get out of here," and хватит колбаситься means "Quit joking around." Don't feel bad if you didn't get it. Your Russian spouse and colleagues didn't get it either.

    To help us we have Svetlana Levikova, the Professor Henry Higgins of Russian youth slang. Levikova has been eavesdropping for years on teenage Russian Eliza Doolittles and jotting down what they say. Unlike Higgins, however, she is not a linguist. She holds a doctorate in philosophy, teaches at Moscow State Pedagogical Institute, and has spent her academic career studying youth subculture as a social phenomenon. When the Fair Press publishing house asked her if she would compile a dictionary of youth slang, she was "in shock." "I wasn't a linguist, and I thought I'd come up with about 100 words or so." But she asked her children -- now aged 19, 21, and 22 -- if they would help. "Sit down and start taking down dictation," they said. Levikova started writing, and, after nearly three years of work, she had collected over 10,000 words and expressions.

    Levikova gathered words from her children, their friends and her students. She pulled them out of newspapers for young people, television shows and the Internet. "I don't know why other people watched the television show 'Behind the Glass,' [Za Steklom] but I watched it for the language. I sat in front of the television with a pen and paper." Regional and institutional expressions quickly become universal. "Young people are extremely mobile. If a teenager comes to Moscow from Khabarovsk, he brings his slang with him. And it gets passed around in the mass media."

    Why do young people develop their own dialect? "For the same reason we spoke pig Latin in childhood," Levikova notes. "To encode their language, to conceal what they are saying from us. There's nothing wrong with it. We all did this when we were younger." Should we insist they speak standard Russian? Levikova says no. "Everything has its place -- we shouldn't fight it. Let them play around with language. They'll grow out of it later."

    In compiling the dictionary, Levikova consciously broke several canons of academic lexicography. She left out time determinants -- that is, what years a particular word or expression appeared and was used. "The slang changes quickly. At first, kids said, Забей! (Forget it.) Then they started saying, Забей на это. It's hard to say exactly when the second expression appeared. And then, words and expressions keep coming back, sometimes with different meanings. In the '60s we used the word стиляги, which meant guys with greased-back hair, tight pants, and platform shoes. Now the word is used to describe anyone who is a hot dresser."

    She also took out the grammatical notes. "Take the word койка [literally, 'bed'] which is a noun, feminine gender. But it is used to mean 'having sex with someone.' Putting in the grammatical form had no meaning." Finally, she insisted on including stress marks. "Кретин, with the stress on the second syllable, means an 'imbecile,' but when it's on the first syllable, it is a mild term used to describe someone who has done something foolish," she explains.

    The dictionary is organized into three parts: The first section gives "standard Russian" definitions of slang words and usages; the second section is made up of expressions and phrases, also "translated" into standard Russian, and the third is a reverse dictionary -- standard Russian words are listed alphabetically with translations into youth slang. Levikova is particularly proud of this last part. "It allows you to find the right word -- so you can talk to a young person in a language he understands. But it also shows what kids are concerned about. Some words only have one or two slang expressions, but others have lots of them. Where there are lots of words, we know it's something that concerns young people."

    So what are Russian teenagers concerned about? Pretty much what has interested young people all over the world for decades: sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Plus one modern addition: computers. If you are Russian and age 16 to 24, you call your computer аппарат, компик, компухтер, машина, тачила or числогрыз (the last is something like a "number cruncher" -- a number gnawer). If it's not working well, it's гнилой (literally, "rotten") or убитый (literally "killed"). If it's slow, it's задумчивый (literally, "thoughtful").

    When life is going great, young people say it's балдёжно, зыко, неслабо, отпадно, улётно, файно, чётко, or чисто тайд. Here we can see the influence of English (файно is a Russified version of "fine") and the ad industry (чисто тайд -- pure Tide). English can also be found in several words for sex (факать, фачить) as well as a plethora of words for a young woman: гёрла, герлёнок, гёрлышка, гирлица. French is represented by the cheerful селява (accent on the second syllable) -- from c'est la vie. However, it has been corrupted -- perhaps due to the rhythmic echo of халява (freebie, something good attained free of charge) -- to mean "life," as in the phrase, Летом у нас была просто клёвая селява. (This summer life was just great.)

    If a young person of your acquaintance says, Мы были в пожаре (literally, "we were in a fire"), you should get out your pamphlet on "How to Talk to Young People About Drugs"; it means "we got high." And if you hear him talking about Адам, бэтман, витамин Е, плейбой, слон, свинья, or экс (literally Adam, Batman, Vitamin E, playboy, elephant, pig or Ex) -- these are references to the drug Ecstasy.

    Pay attention if your child or step-child talks about антиквариат, нафталин, шнурки or ботинки (literally antiques, mothballs, shoelaces or boots) -- that's you; these are all slang terms for parents. The witty шнурки завязаны -- my shoelaces are tied -- means "My parents aren't home." Шнурки в стакане (literally "the shoelaces are in the glass") or предки в пещере ("my ancestors are in the cave") both mean "my parents are at home."

    If hearing this makes you feel like a dinosaur, Russian kids would agree. In their slang, динозавр is "an old fogy."
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.bestenglish.ru/forum/viewtop ... 01c0407454

    That's, Like, Totally Bad Russian

    By Michele A. Berdy from The Moscow Times

    Конкретно: (as a parasite word), helluva, for sure, really good

    Russian has a number of filler words that Russians call слова-паразиты, literally "parasite words." Sometimes they are used as intensifiers, but more often they just seem to appear in your speech all by themselves. Nasty little parasites that they are, you don't notice them until they have taken over half your utterances. And then ridding your speech of them is virtually impossible.

    Like all speakers of Russian in Moscow, I've been infected by the parasite как бы. This is a perfectly useful phrase that means "as if." You can use it legitimately in sentences like, Как бы в шутку он сказал, что хочет жениться. А, может быть, он серьёзно? (As if in jest, he said he wanted to get married. But maybe he's serious?) According to linguists, как бы as a parasite originated in St. Petersburg, but it has swept through Moscow like a particularly virulent flu. It doesn't really mean anything and is used the way some people use "like" in English. Он как бы поехал купить хлеб. (He, like, went to buy bread.)

    Another parasite is типа, which, like как бы, has a legitimate use: to express a comparison or similarity. Он купил новую машину -- она типа Джипа, только меньше размером. (He bought a new car -- something like a Jeep, only smaller.) As a parasite it means "kinda, sorta, like." Я, типа, хотел ей позвонить. (I kinda wanted to give her a call.) It can also be used to indicate a quote: Она, типа, не хочет пойти сегодня в клуб сегодня. (She's like: I don't wanna go to the club tonight.) This can be sometimes translated by the equally appalling "go," used in Valley Girl English to mean "say." Он, типа, хочет выпить. И ей, типа, всё равно. (He goes: I wanna drink. And she's like: Whatever.)

    And then there's короче. Короче говоря is a handy phrase that means "to cut a long story short." Perhaps it first started to infiltrate speech in this sense, but now it's like a nervous tic: Я, короче, поговорил с ним, а он, короче, не будет подписывать контракт. (I, you know, had a talk with him, and he's, like, not gonna sign the contract.)

    Конкретно, we all know, means "specifically" or "in detail." Мы очень конкретно обсуждали все условия договора. (We discussed all the terms of the contract in great detail.) In parasite-talk, it is used as an intensifier. Мы конкретно отдохнули. (We had one helluva vacation.)

    Чисто is used in standard speech to mean "purely" or "impeccably." Музыканты исполнили программу совершенно чисто -- не было ни одной ошибки. (The musicians gave an absolutely impeccable performance: There wasn't a single mistake.) As a parasite, it can mean "only." Он чисто хотел сказать, что будет ждать тебя. (He just wanted to tell you that he'll wait for you.) Or it can mean "really": Он чисто конкретно пообещал. (He, like, totally promised big time.) Or it can mean nothing at all.

    Another awful word is прикинь, which kinda sorta means "can you imagine," but appears so often, it seems to have no more meaning than "uh." Прикинь, я вчера, типа, иду с ним, а он, короче, пьяный в зюзю. (So, like, yesterday I'm walking with him and he's, ya know, drunk as a skunk.)

    Понимаешь (you know) can be used whenever you want to make sure your audience truly hears you. Мне нелегко с ним, как ты понимаешь, но и у меня характер тоже не сахар. (As you well know, it's not easy for me with him, but then I don't have the sweetest personality either.) But there are some folks who use it the way U.S. teens use "ya know." Он, понимаешь, работает допоздна, а мне, понимаешь, скучно. (He, ya know, works late, and I'm, like, bored.)

    With the exception of как бы, which has infected everyone, these words make you sound like a guy hanging out in the 'hood. Or worse: like a teenager. Should you find you're infected with any of these parasites, seek linguistic help immediately.

    Recommended rest cure: a month reading Pushkin.
    __________________________________________________ _____


    http://inosmi.km.ru/foreign/index.asp?data=07.08.2005

    Moscow Times: Как избавиться от «типа», «короче» и «чисто»?

    Это как бы совсем плохой русский язык

    Источник: Газета Moscow Times (Россия) от 5 августа 2005 г.,
    статья: That's, Like, Totally Bad Russian,
    автор: Michele A. Berdy

    В русском языке полно слов-наполнителей, которые русские называют «паразитами». Иногда их употребляют для усиления фразы, но чаще всего они возникают сами по себе без всякой на то причины. Противные маленькие «паразиты», их легко не заметить, пока они не займут половину речи. После этого избавиться от них уже практически невозможно.

    Как и все русскоговорящие в Москве, я заразился «паразитом» «как бы». Эту фразу можно использовать вполне обоснованно, однако зачастую она не несет в себе никакой смысловой нагрузки. Лингвисты считают, что этот «вирус» возник в Петербурге, но в столице он «злобствует» ничуть не меньше.

    Другим популярным «паразитом» является слово «типа». Оно, как и «как бы», имеет свое значение – вид, разновидность. В качестве «паразита» у него есть английские аналоги – kinda, sorta. I kinda wanted to give her a call (Я, типа, хотел ей позвонить). «Типа» можно употреблять и для перевода в косвенную речь: она, типа, не хочет пойти сегодня в клуб. А может и вовсе не иметь никакого значения.

    Но самый страшный «паразит» - слово «короче». Изначально существовала вполне нормальная фраза «короче говоря», означавшая «вкратце». Теперь это слово стало хуже нервного тика. Слово «короче» появляется когда угодно и где угодно, вне зависимости от контекста. Например: я, короче, поговорил с ним, а он, короче, не будет подписывать контракт.

    «Конкретно», «чисто», «прикинь» и так далее – все это слова-паразиты. Чтобы избавиться от них, рекомендую следующую терапию: месяц чтения произведений А.С.Пушкина вслух.

    Перевод Ивана Грошкова/KM.RU
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.lingvoda.ru/forum/actualpost ... 1&act=quot

    When Diplomacy Falls Short Of Being Diplomatic!

    Allah, Goats, Sodom and Gomorrah

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Byk: (slang) a bodyguard, usually very muscular and not very intelligent, working for a criminal or semi-criminal organization. Can be translated as thug, enforcer, protector, soldier.

    In standard Russian, byk is a bull or an ox. How this came to be applied to bodyguards is no mystery: one glance at those neckless goons, muscles straining the seams of their shiny suit jackets and pants, is all you need. Think "beefcake" -- but beefcake armed with a handgun, an automatic, a knife, a hand grenade and two sets of brass knuckles.
    I like animal slang in Russian. For example, telok, a calf, is another slang word for a bodyguard, or "minder," presumably for someone a bit less intimidating than the byk. You see him trotting after his charge, like a calf after his mother. And speaking of his mother, in the barnyard, the criminal den and the dormitory, tyolka -- a heifer -- is, well, a heifer. That is, not very polite slang for an attractive woman: a babe, a skirt, a bit of stuff.

    Kaban -- in nature a wild boar -- is a very un-PC word for a masculine lesbian. The badger, barsuk, is a young gay man. Kotik a kitty cat, is a widespread affectionate diminutive for either a man or a woman, something like "sweetie" or "darling," with all the feline undercurrents of softness and sensuality. In street jargon it can mean "lover" or "pimp." Kotik myshei ne lovit can be a simple description of your old cat -- he can't catch any mice. But when your boss says your colleague myshei ne lovit, he means "he's not too swift," "he's not with it," or "he's a deadbeat."

    Koza -- a nanny goat -- is a silly or twitchy woman. Kozyol is a fairly harsh derogatory word to describe an aggressively stupid man, an "idiot" or a "jerk." It's my favorite thing to shout at the driver who decides to make a left turn from the far right lane.
    In the prison yard, however, kozyol is nasty slang for a man who has been sodomized.

    In the annals of translation history, however, it is the interpreter's worst nightmare. The kozyol incident took place in the early period of Vladimir Putin's presidency, before his protocol department persuaded him that demonstrating an easy familiarity with crude street slang, while making him one of the boys at the FSB, is not entirely seemly for the president of a great power.

    At a press conference held by Putin and Tony Blair, Putin was searching for a way to impress the British prime minister and other esteemed guests with how truly dastardly the Chechen bandits were. On the wall of a Chechen bandit hideout, he said, they found the following appalling inscription: "Allakh nad nami, a kozly pod nami." The translator dutifully repeated after him: "Allah is above us and the goats are beneath us."
    The prime minister and other esteemed guests stared at Putin with expressions of patient expectancy; maybe the punchline was still to come -- you never know with these Russian folk expressions. "Oni imeli v vidu russkikh" (They meant the Russians), Putin explained unhelpfully. More blank stares (What Russians? What goats?).

    By now the translator realized the problem but didn't know how to publicly resolve it, as one can't shout across the room: "Oh, he means they bug*ered the Russians!" So instead he walked up and whispered an explanation to Blair, who gave a ministerial moue of distaste.
    Putin continued his speech, while the Russian protocol department collectively wished the earth would open up and swallow them. And the translator seriously considered a change of profession.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://remi-jakovlevic.livejournal.com/31959.html

    Frustration Is Linguistically So Frustrating

    By Michele A. Berdy

    One of the great puzzles of the Russian language is why there is no word for one of the most widespread emotions: frustration. You know what it's like: you're racing to an important business meeting, you're almost there, you turn the corner ... and drive into the Mother of All Traffic Jams. You sit there, pounding in frustration on your cellphone, which has just at that moment used up your prepayment and refuses to let you make any calls. Argh. Or you bring all the hundreds of documents needed for your mortgage application (documents that took months to gather, pulled out of safe deposit boxes, pried out of obscure registry offices in towns you lived in 25 years ago) and discover that the laws just changed that morning and you need another set of obscure documents.
    Dosada (vexation), razdrazhenie (annoyance, irritation), chuvstvo becciliya (feeling powerless), otchayanie (despair), razocharovanie (disappointment), chuvstvo bezyckhodnosti (feeling that there's no way out) even frustratsiya (when describing a psychological state) -- all these can be used to express various shadings of frustration, but the lack of the exact cognate in Russian is, well, just so frustrating.

    If language reflects the world its users live in, why isn't frustration a native Russian concept? Here's my theory: Frustration in the Western sense of irritation over relatively petty and minor annoyances doesn't exist here. In Russia, the Land of the Larger Than Life, everything from the weather to the president's drinking habits are extreme. Even traffic jams don't slow you down for a few minutes or even a few hours, but (as they did last winter) stop traffic for 12 hours straight. There is no such thing as a minor annoyance. There are only disasters, catastrophes, and setbacks that would try the patience of a saint. There are daily incidents large and small that enrage you, infuriate you, drive you totally around the bend. And lo and behold, Russians have a wealth of expressions to describe these states of mind.

    "Ya podgotovila vsye dokumenty, no okazalos, chto vveli novye pravila i tyepyer mne nuzhny sovsem drugiye dokumenty. Eto prosto menya besit." (I pulled together all the documents, and it turns out that they introduced new rules and now I need entirely different documents -- this is just so infuriating!)

    "Kak tolko moya ochered k okoshku v banke podoshla, oni obyavili pereryv na polchasa. Eto prosto vyvelo menya iz sebya." (As soon as it was my turn at the bank teller's window, they called a break for a half hour -- it drove me out of my mind!) "On kupil i postavil tri datchika sistemy okhlakhdeniya na Zhigulyakh. i vsyo do odnogo byli brakovannye. On penilsya ot gnyeva." (He bought three sensors for the cooling system on his Zhuguli and installed them, and every single one of them was defective. He was so furious he was foaming at the mouth).

    And then you finally hit your limit. Menya doveli (They pushed me over the edge). Dostali (I've had it up to here with them). Dokonali (They finally got to me). Krysha poyekhala (I flipped my lid). Ya tronulsya. (I lost it). Ya stebanulsya. (I went wacko.)

    In American slang today, you say, "he went postal." This is because a suspiciously high percentage of the "disgruntled employees" who one fine day took an automatic and killed everyone in sight were former U.S. postal workers.

    This doesn't reflect Russian reality at all. In Russian reality, when you've waited in line two hours to mail your parcel of books home (at the one post office in town that provides this service, located on the outskirts of the city, with hours from 11 to 4 on workdays), and it's finally your turn -- the postal clerk slams the window shut on your fingers and intones "Obyedenny pereryv" (Lunch break). You're the one who will go on a rampage, ripping up your collection of dictionaries and flinging them through the front windows. The postal workers will just sit there and stare at you as they munch their sandwiches. "Klinichesky sluchai." (She's certifiable.) And they're right. Zhara dokonala.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    www.thinkaloud.ru/feature/berdy-bias.doc

    Bias-Free and Inclusive English

    Michele A. Berdy

    “I know this isn’t very PC of me, but…” So start a thousand of sentences a day when someone wishes to express an opinion that is based on a stereotype. “Political correctness” or “PC” has solidly entered the American lexicon and been exported to Russia with the сalque «политкорректность». But the concept and precepts of political correctness remain controversial in the US and somewhat misunderstood in Russia. Translators and scholars either consider it a bit of a joke, or, at the other end of the spectrum, take it as Law, fearing that one misstatement will bring out the language police, who will handcuff the miscreants and take them off to a multicultural prison, where they will have to write on the blackboard 100 times: “Each student must hand in his or her essay on time.”

    The truth lies, as usual, in the middle.

    How it all began
    Starting in the 1960s America was swept by a number of major movements for social change: the civil rights and “black pride” movements, the women’s liberation movement, the “human potential” movement, the movement for independent living among people with disabilities, the Native American movement, the “sexual revolution,” the movement of gays and lesbians to “come out of the closet.” At the same time, divorce and non-traditional families (including single mothers) became more acceptable, and many women joined the workforce -- not only for professional fulfillment, but often (perhaps more often) out of economic necessity.

    When American women in the 1960s and 1970s began to look for jobs, they came up against two hard facts: traditionally women’s professions paid much less than traditionally men’s professions, and women in the same jobs as men earned much less than their male colleagues. In one university women who were departmental secretaries (usually with degrees or even advanced university degrees) earned about $12,000 per year, whereas male groundskeepers (who did not have college educations) earned about $25,000 per year. That case eventually went to the courts, but, of course, was not resolved for many years. In the meantime, a divorced woman with children to feed and clothe looked at the job market and thought: “Well, if I can double my income by raking leaves, I’ll rake leaves.” Much of the movement of women into “men’s jobs” in the US was not driven so much by a desire to open up new frontiers as by simple economic considerations.

    But when people began to take on new jobs and roles, they discovered very quickly that the English language didn’t have the right words to describe “a woman janitor” or “a stay-at-home husband.” Psychological research on the power of the word to shape perception and behavior (in consumer and political advertising, as well as in academic fields) suggested that the old words were not only inadequate, they were holding back change. “If there’s no word for it, it doesn’t exist.” But if it did exist – it was time to invent some new words.

    The first harbinger of change was the honorific Ms. (plural: Mses. or Mss.), which was invented to provide parity with Mr.: if “Mr.” didn’t indicate marital status, why should women announce theirs with the honorifics Miss and Mrs.? I recall very well the fevered media discussions about this – “it sounds awful, it’s not natural, it’s an imposition of a minority point of view on the majority” – as well as the hissed “Mzzzz” that reluctant speakers used when addressing women this way. (This was similar to the response to СНГ when it appeared in Russia: Кто мы – Сенегальцы, что ли? went the joke.) But (like СНГ) Ms. held its ground, and now seems natural to the vast majority of Americans.

    If at first women headed the movement to change the language to fit their new roles, other groups soon joined in. The underlying logic was simple: words have power to shape perception, and many of the words and expressions we commonly use -- “Latin lover,” “sissy,” “Dutch treat,” “to gyp someone,” “chairman,” “girls in the typing pool”-- perpetuate ethnic, gender or other stereotypes (usually derogatory or limiting). Being “politically correct” meant “adopting a policy of speaking correctly” about people, that is, speaking about them respectfully, as they wish to be spoken of, without bias and demeaning stereotypes. The 2000 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines it more broadly: “relating to or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.”

    On the face of it, what could be less controversial? The call was to apply, with greater sensitivity, basic standards of politeness and respect to language use with regard to people in a larger effort to eliminate discrimination.

    But it turns out that how one uses language – one’s idiolect – is an integral part of one’s self, and external pressure to change internal processes was difficult for some to bear and bitterly resented. Many people were insulted when told “how to speak” or accused of being making slurs they did not intend. Another problem was that the alternatives suggested at first – chairperson, firepeople, etc. – were awkward, clumsy, and didn’t even sound like English. Others rebelled because the changes in language “neutralized” judgment; for example, they believed that calling prostitutes “commercial sex workers” legitimized them in a way they found objectionable.

    And in some cases, of course, people simply didn’t want to drop their prejudices. The business executive who balked at calling his secretary “a woman” instead of “my girl,” the postal worker who couldn’t get used to calling his boss, an African American woman, Ms. Jones, or the scandalized neighbor who thought “the house-husband” next door was an aberration – these Americans rebelled. “PC” became a term of ridicule. For example, the Devil’s Dictionary defines “politically correct” as “diplomatic; asinine; referring only to those racial and sexual groups not represented in present company as superlative; reverse elitism.” Dozens of purportedly “politically correct terms” (like “follicly challenged” for “bald”) were produced to show what a joke it all was.

    Now “politically correct” is used more often to describe an action or position that is in some way expedient: “The company decision to move the office to that part of town was politically correct,” (that is, it made the company look good). However, the movement to make English more “people-friendly” continues, called now “bias-free” or “inclusive” language.

    Naming
    One the main tenets of this new way of speaking is calling people what they wish to be called. Many nationalities, religious and ethnic groups had one name for themselves, while outsiders (most Western Europeans) called them something else.
    Instead of Try
    Aborigines Australian Aboriginal peoples (or name of group)
    Bushmen San
    Colored person Black/black, African American; person of color (if the person chooses this)
    Eskimos Inuit
    Gypsies Roma
    Spanish-speaking Check with the people or institutional policy: Latino/Latina; Hispanic (found objectionable by some), or (preferably) refer to individual ethnic groups
    Indians (American) Native Americans, American Indians, or use the tribal name
    Lapps, Lapland Sami, Saamiland
    (American) Negro Black/black, African American, Afro-American
    Moonie Member of the Unification Church
    Mormon Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Moslem, Mohammedan Muslim
    Mulatto Person of mixed ancestry, biracial, multiracial
    Oriental Asian, Asian American, or (preferably) refer to individual ethnic groups

    When speaking about Americans who identify themselves by their ethnic background, the preferred use is non-hyphenated: Japanese Americans, Irish Americans, Arab Americans (it is hyphenated only when used as an adjective: “Cuban-American store”). Note that it is considered inappropriate to say “Americans, Irish Americans, and Cuban Americans”; the implication is that there is one group of “real Americans” and the rest are something less. Parallel constructions are preferable: “European Americans, Irish Americans, and Cuban Americans.”

    In the US, people who are homosexual prefer to be called gay if they are men and lesbian if they are women. However, it makes sense to use the term “homosexual” in the context of earlier historical periods (before World War Two) or different cultures, since “gay” is marked as a modern American word. No one seems to be satisfied with the terms for a same-sex mate; you can try companion, partner, or friend.

    “Elderly,” “frail,” “old lady,” “old man,” “oldster,” and “oldie” are considered patronizing and demeaning. Apparently few people view themselves as truly “old” – even people in their 80s think they are just getting on in years -- so “older” is a safe word to use for anyone past middle age. “Senile” should not be used as a synonym for “forgetful” or “old.” If some one has senile dementia, they are said to have Alzheimer’s disease.

    The disability rights movement in the US developed the concept of “people first”: people see themselves as people first and only then as “people with a disease.” They do not wish to be identified as their disease or disability (“a diabetic”), as a collective noun (“the disabled”), or as “victims” or “sufferers.”
    Instead of Try
    A diabetic A person with diabetes
    An AIDS victim A person with AIDS/who has AIDS/living with AIDS
    Birth defect Congenital disability
    Dwarf Little person, person of short stature
    the handicapped, the blind, the deaf, etc. A person with a disability, a blind person (person with vision impairment); a deaf person (person with hearing impairment), etc.
    Retard (feeble-minded, imbecile, moron, idiot) A person with developmental delays, a person with mental disability/impairment/retardation
    Spastic A person with cerebral palsy
    Stutterer A person with a speech impediment

    Not naming
    Once you get a sense of the preferred ways to refer to ethnic groups and others, it is disconcerting to learn that a second tenet of bias-free speech is NOT naming people. That is, information about race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, etc. should only be included if it is relevant. If you say “a male nurse” and “a nurse,” you are implying (intentionally or not) that being a female nurse is normal and unmarked, but being a male nurse is not. “The disabled librarian helped me find a book” is appropriate to say if you want to distinguish that librarian from the other non-disabled one. But if it is simply information you noted because the person is different or not what you expected in some way, then it is considered improper to include it.

    Demeaning expressions and stereotypes
    It need not be said that it is utterly inappropriate in any setting to use demeaning ethnic or other nicknames, such as “wop” (Italian), “mick” (Irish person), “chink” (Chinese), “spaz” (person with cerebral palsy) or “crip” (person with a disability). However, there are some expressions whose origins are half-forgotten; for example “to gyp someone” is considered derogatory to the Roma (it’s derived from the word “Gypsy”). Try using cheat, rip off, soak, swindle, con, or pull one over on instead. There are a number of expressions using the word “Dutch”: Dutch treat, talk like a Dutch uncle, Dutch courage, double Dutch. Although few people regard the expressions as pejorative, they portray Hollanders as cheap, cowardly, dishonest and blunt. Suggested usage: separate checks (for Dutch treat); talk bluntly, chew out, call on the carpet (for “talk like a Dutch uncle”); sham courage, courage from a bottle (for “Dutch courage”); nonsense (for “double Dutch”).

    What if you don’t think of “Dutch courage” in terms of people from Holland, but just like the expression? The response is: how would a Hollander feel if you said, “That’s just Dutch courage; he’s not brave at all?”

    But, as Rosalie Maggio writes, there are moments when most people say, “That’s going too far!” There are times when you think, “I like that word, I have no intention of offending anyone with the word, I think it’s ridiculous that someone might be offended, so I’m going to use it.” And sometimes (rarely) things do go too far. Recently an official in England was accused of racism for using the expression “nitty-gritty,” (“the heart of the matter,” “the essence of something”) which, the accuser said, was a word used to describe what was left in the hold of a slave ship after the live slaves had been released. Etymologists disagree: they can find no reference to the phrase before the 1920s.

    If the accusation was unfair, it is a good example of why it’s worth watching one’s tongue. People who have been on the receiving end of slurs all their lives are sensitive to the slightest intimation of derogatory language.

    What do you do if you slip? You apologize, say you hadn’t known or intended to be insulting, and thank them for letting you know so that you won’t do it again.

    Job titles and honorifics
    In the old days in the US, doctors were men, secretaries and nurses were women, and men in uniform were men in uniform. That’s changed, of course, and the new vocabulary of job titles does not imply gender. Below are some preferred terms, which are far more graceful than the first attempts to rename professionals in the 1970s and 1980s.
    Instead of Try
    Bar man/barmaid - Bar staff
    Businessman - Executive, business executive, manager, professional, entrepreneur, industrialist, financier, magnate, business owner
    Chairman - Chair, chairperson, facilitator, convenor
    Congressman - Member of Congress, representative, congressional representative, legislator
    Clergyman, man of the cloth - Clergy, members of the clergy, minister, priest
    Craftsman - Artisan, handicrafts worker, trade worker
    Fireman - Fire-fighter
    Foreman - Supervisor, team or work leader, line manager, section head, chief, director
    Founding fathers - Founders, writers of the Constitution, forebears, ancestors (depending on context)
    Housewife/househusband - Homemaker
    Spokesman - Representative, official, speaker, source, advocate, agent, PR coordinator, speechmaker, public information manager
    Stewardess/steward - Flight attendant
    Tradesman - Trader, shopkeeper, small business owner, merchant, retailer, dealer
    Workman - Worker

    It is also recommended to avoid noting gender when it is unexpected to you (“woman electrician,” “male secretary”), or using any of the “-ette” or “-ess” endings: use instead actor, poet, author, usher, waiter, villain, etc.

    What doesn’t change? Titles such as Duke and Duchess, Abbott and Abbess, and any historical names (the Green Mountain Men). It’s also appropriate to use gender-marked terms (congressmen and congresswomen) in reference to individuals or in parallel constructions.

    When referring to or introducing professionals, it is considered proper to use parallel constructions: if you introduce a male colleague as Dr. John Smith, you should refer to his colleague as Dr. Susan Jones (not Susan or Susan Jones). When writing a letter to an unknown person, either write Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Mr./Ms.. You can also use the job title: “Dear (or “To”) Manager, Editor, Colleague(s), Committee Member, Board Member, Publisher, Sales Agent,” etc. If someone has written you and you can’t tell if the person is male or female from the name, it’s appropriate to write “Dear Okan Erener.”

    “Man as false generic”
    This is perhaps the most contentious issue in bias-free writing -- and seems to have been contentious for centuries. According to Rosalie Maggio: “Following a rule invented in 1846 by John Kirby, who decreed that the male gender is ‘more comprehensive than the female,’ in 1850 by Act of the British Parliament, ‘he’ was declared generic and legally inclusive of ‘she’.” By this rule and law, “prehistoric man was a hunter” could mean “prehistoric men and women were hunters,” or it could mean “prehistoric men were hunters” (and prehistoric women did something else). The problem with this is twofold: first, it’s not clear when writers or speakers mean “men” and when they mean “men and women.” And secondly, the profusion of grammatical constructions, words and expressions using the words “man,” “men” and “he/him” creates a kind of linguistic landscape that is largely masculine.

    Bias-free writing and speaking strive to eliminate generic uses of “man” and the masculine pronoun in speech and in sayings, either by using different terms or by using plural or passive constructions. For example:
    Instead of Try
    The man we want for the job - The person we want for the job
    Man in the street - average person, ordinary person, people in general, lay person, non-specialist
    Time waits for no man. - Time waits for no one.
    Each student must finish his essay by Friday. - Students must finish their essays by Friday; the students’ essays must be finished by Friday.
    A student who wants his essay returned… - Anyone who wants an essay returned… - All who want their essays returned…
    Man-day - Work-day, average worker day
    Manhandle - Abuse, mistreat, maltreat, mishandle, damage, maul
    Manhole - Sewer hole, utility access hole, vent hole
    Man-hours - Total hours, employee hours, hours worked/hours of work, labor time
    Manmade - Synthetic, artificial, handmade, machine-made, homemade, mass-produced (depending on context and meaning)
    Manpower - Workforce, personnel, human resources, staff, workers, employees, labor
    To man something - To staff, operate, run, staff

    You should note that many words in English with “man” are derived from the Latin for “hand” (manus) and have no sexist implications: for example, manacle, manager, mandate, manual, manufacture, manuscript. Other words have roots not connected with males; for example, “mania” is from the Greek for “spirit.” (Jokes aside, no one is advocating for “personacle” or “personsuscript.”)

    All the same, this is where many people say, “That’s going too far!” Surely, they argue, people understand that “prehistoric man” is just a saying and refers to both men and women? And surely people don’t think the world is populated only by men because of the use of the masculine pronoun? Research, however, shows that what is clear to one is not necessarily clear to another. Maggio cites the example of an American high school student who explained why his western civilization textbook only used the words “man” and “mankind”: “Women were dogs,” he wrote. “You might as well say ‘men and their dogs plowed the fields’… The reason women aren’t mentioned in our book is that women did nothing, contributed nothing, were nothing.” (He definitely missed the message that “he includes she.”) Another study showed when a group of young children were shown “genderless” pictures of rabbits, dinosaurs and babies, 97 percent of the boys identified them as male, and 81 percent of the girls did, too. And the phrase, “every American child knows that he may grow up to be President” could be understood as “only men may apply for the job.”

    Some of this may seem like a “tempest in a teapot” to Russian readers, partially because Russian does not have this gender imbalance. The Russian language contains thousands of nouns that are feminine gender, from the delicate (роза) to the mighty (стихия) to the weighty (весомость) to the complex (психология). In English all that are “feminine” are machines, ships and cars or natural disasters (storms and hurricanes). Even words that apply to a woman specifically are sometimes markedly masculine (“she’s a freshman at Yale”).

    In a way, American women are echoing what the poet Marina Tsvetaeva wrote in response to the 1918 changes in orthography that eliminated some forms of the feminine plural: Революция уничтожила в русской орфографии женский род: райские [не райскiя] розы. Равноправие, т.е. будь мужчиной – или совсем не быть! The call for inclusive language in English is not an attempt to make English “genderless,” but rather to insert gender into the language, to make sure that “she” is in the language as often as “he” is – or at least ensure that “he” is not the only personage.

    Perhaps this is pushing the psycho-linguistic envelope too far. Indeed, political correctness is derived in part from the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which remains controversial in the US. The hypothesis posits that language influences thought by influencing perception and cognition, the worldview of the individual, and the structure of logic and what is perceived as logical. Some scholars do not agree with this hypothesis. But if we do accept that words and grammar have power to influence our worldview, why shouldn’t we accept that use of gender in a language has the same power and influence? It may be subtle, it may affect people to a greater or lesser degree, it may be only one of many factors shaping individuals’ perception of themselves and their worlds, but it is part of the logic of the language that influences perception of the world.

    So what’s a poor translator to do?
    When translating from English into Russian: in most cases – nothing. These are issues for English-speakers; Russian usage should be determined by Russians. Besides, the majority of these changes in English are simply not applicable to Russian. If you note that the text reads “artificial” or “synthetic” instead of “manmade,” all the same you’ll translate it as «искусственный» or «сделанный руками человека». In other cases, you can’t get around the laws of gender: “the person who came” is going to be человек, который пришёл no matter what English speakers think about the masculine pronoun. And in a discussion among medical professionals, even if the English speaker ensures that gender is not mentioned in reference to nurses, in Russian you will call them all медицинские работники среднего звена, or refer to one person as медицинский брат and another as медицинская сестра. (On the other hand, don’t assume that “nurse” in English refers only to медицинская сестра.)

    It is more problematic when inclusive language is a key part of the communicative message in English: all my attempts to “mark” the Russian in order to emphasize the politically correct English usage violate the laws of Russian grammar. I would be grateful to learn what Russian translators and interpreters have done in such situations.

    When translating for groups of people with disabilities, people living with HIV-AIDS, or other groups in Russia that have adopted much of English’s bias-free language, it’s best to check your usage before you start translating. For example, «люди с инвалидностью», «люди, живущие с ВИЧ/СПИДом» have become the preferred expressions in Russian.

    What you shouldn’t do: use calques indiscriminately. Not long ago I heard a TV announcer describe someone as афро-американец, гражданин Канады. If he was an African American, how could he be a citizen of Canada? As Dr. Yermolovich never tires of pointing out: if it doesn’t make logical sense – don’t say it!

    When translating from Russian into English I recommend that translators become familiar with the basics of bias-free usage, particularly with regard to preferred job titles and names of ethnic and other groups. A spoken or written translation that refers to Bushmen (rather than San), men of the cloth (in reference to the foreign clergy) or policemen (in reference to American police officers of both genders) will be perceived as out-of-date or offensive.

    What if the Russian you are interpreting uses “incorrect language” such as «он страдает от ВИЧа» or «конгрессмены»? It’s your judgment call. But if you think there is no intention to offend, then it might make sense to use currently acceptable terms (someone with HIV, members of Congress).

    What about expressions using “man” and pronoun use? I would say it depends on the subject and the audience. If you are translating a scholarly article for an academic press, I recommend using inclusive and non-sexist language, since this has become the norm in the US academic community. In any case, it is a good idea to ask for style guidelines, since policies differ among institutions and publishing houses.

    When you are interpreting, it’s hard to “reprogram” your brain to make Кто-то оставил свой доклад на подиуме come out as “someone left his or her speech on the podium” (or even the less cumbersome “someone left a speech on the podium,” “there’s a speech on the podium”). If you think this is an issue for your audience, try to do it. If you think it isn’t an issue for your audience, or if you can’t change your usage easily, or if you think this is “going too far” – then don’t. This isn’t Law; it’s suggested usage.

    In your professional dealings with American colleagues, what should you do? I personally subscribe to the dictum: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. However, not all my compatriots concur and may expect “American” behavior and language when abroad. It’s helpful to know this, but ultimately – it’s your choice.

    If you are challenged about your use of English or behavior, you can point to the differences in Russian grammar and culture. But if you get challenged often, you might rethink your position. After all, we are only employable if we satisfy our clients, and if they demand bias-free language, we’ll have to comply to keep in business.

    A call for dialog
    This article presents the rationale for bias-free and inclusive language use in English and offers some examples of “people-friendly” language. I hope that others will continue to write about this, particularly on problems that arise in translating, interpreting, and professional relations with foreign colleagues.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Michele Berdy

    Communications: Saying What We Mean

    For many years I have attended dinner parties, conferences, meetings, and receptions in the US and in Russia, dreading the inevitable ice-breaker question: “What do you do?” / ”Чем вы занимаетесь?” The answer in English or Russian – “I’m in health communications” / “Я работаю в коммуникации в сфере здравоохранения” – almost always results in a polite, blank stare. For English-speakers I add: “I do public education programs in health,” for Russians: “То есть – Санпросвет”. If people still don’t fully understand what my work entails, at least they know my professional ball park.

    If I were to simply answer in English, “I’m in communications,” this could mean I work for a telephone company, write copy (text) in an advertising firm, program computerized information storage and retrieval systems, or even work as a graphic designer. The professions and scholarly work that come under the category of “communications” in America are extremely diverse, defined and grouped in many cases more by tradition than by logic. And they are constantly changing: these areas of scholarly endeavor and professional activity have only appeared within the last twenty or thirty years, some within the last five. Each year new theoretical work and new technologies expand and redefine the subjects themselves.

    To help Russian translators who come across “communications” in its various incarnations, in this paper I’ve tried to define more clearly what “communications” means in various contexts, primarily in the humanitarian disciplines. I have polled translators to provide some possible translations into Russian; these are not meant to be definitive, but rather a starting point for other translators. I also consider the meaning of “communication” in everyday American speech, and its very important role in interpersonal relationships.

    Communicate/Communications
    Communicate is derived from the Latin communicare, “to share, impart, partake.”
    There are two main branches of communications: one that deals with human forms of information-sharing (“the art and technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas”); and one that deals with the technical means of sharing information (“a means of communicating, especially a system, such as mail, telephone, or television, for sending and receiving messages”). There are several other meanings in medicine and the military (not considered here).

    In the humanitarian spheres, “communication” can refer to a one-way transmission of information (“impart”), in which the skill is cogent articulation (умение передать информацию); two-way transmission (“share,” “partake”), in which competence is defined by both the ability to present a point of view and information, and the skills of listening, understanding, and acceptance (умение передать информацию и слушать другого); and persuasive communication, which, to be effective, requires feed-back and dialog, but in which an individual or group have the goal of persuading others (an individual or group) to accept information or an attitude, or adopt a behavior (умение убедить слушателя).

    Communications as связь
    An in-depth analysis of this terminology is beyond the scope of this paper, but it is helpful to know a few of the “marker” words and professions.

    Often “communications” refers to what in Russian falls under the category of связь. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with “regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.” This could be translated as the Федеральная комиссия связи. “Communications” is understood somewhat more broadly by the Communication Workers of America trade union, which serves a wide array of humanitarian and technical professions, among them: telecommunications (телекоммуникация), telephone systems (телефония), broadcasting (теле- и радиовещание), cable TV (кабельное телевидение, платное телевидение), journalism (журналистика), and even airline workers (работники авиакомпании). (Railway workers in the US have their own union.) This might be rendered, somewhat wordily, as Профсоюз работников в сферах связи, путей сообщения, и средств массовой информации, although translators will need to clarify what does and doesn’t come under their auspices.

    “Information and communications technology” is defined as “the technology used to handle information and aid communication.” This relatively new phrase (coined by Dennis Stevenson in a 1997 report to the UK government) refers to technologies at the organizational level and is usually translated as информационная технология. The thousands – if not millions -- of companies that have sprouted up in this field within the last decade often just call themselves “communications firms.”

    A related field is “technical communication,” that is, the profession of “gathering information of a technical nature and presenting it or transmitting it.” In this field specialists write and edit professional technical magazines, write instruction manuals or textbooks, provide explanatory texts for web-sites and software programs, or make educational films and videos. I have found this translated as техническая коммуникация, but a more apt translation might be представление технической информации or simply техническая информация.

    Communications in the humanities
    Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines “communications” as “an art that deals with expressing and exchanging ideas effectively in speech or writing or through the graphic or dramatic arts and that is taught as an integrated program at various levels of education in distinction to traditional separate courses in composition and speech.” The Association for Communication Administration defines the field of communication in this way: “The field of communications focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The field promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication.”

    That is, the field of communications is an interdisciplinary field that has developed in response to new technologies (such as internet) and media (such as multi-media presentations), as well as to advances in traditional academic disciplines. It examines the full range of human verbal and non-verbal communication: everyday (such as speech, body language), persuasive (such as advertising techniques), and applied artistic (such as graphic design). Communications specialists come from various branches of linguistics, semiotics, pragmatics, psychology, behavioral science, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, journalism, public relations, advertising, television, radio, cinema, video, photography, as well as the graphic arts.

    There is, of course, no umbrella word in Russian that encompasses all these disparate disciplines and professions. Among academic circles the discipline is usually translated as коммуникация/коммуникативные науки, although some specialists call it общение and advocate for this translation.

    To confuse matters, there are a number of American universities, schools and departments that call themselves “communications” but teach different subjects. Some aspects of communication are taught in the various traditional academic departments, such as linguistics or psychology. Communications Departments or Communications Programs at colleges, universities, and post-graduate educational institutions might teach some of the same subjects found in traditional disciplines (the same kind of course in organizational communications might be taught in a psychology department or a communications department). But American Schools of Communication (university-level) usually teach only television and film, journalism, advertising, and public relations. Some add to the mix marketing, graphic design, multi-media design, and photography.

    So, unfortunately the translator cannot possibly know from the name of a communications department or school what disciplines it teaches. In the case of Schools of Communication, the combination of disciplines is so at odds with traditional Russian academic and ministerial combinations, that an inclusive translation (such as Институт по массовой информации и прикладному искусству) is misleading, and a descriptive translation (such as Институт по телерадиовещанию, кино, журналистке, рекламе, связи с общественностью и фотографии) is awkward and strange, since the concept of “communication” that binds together all these disciplines is missing from the translation. If the translator avoids these traps, he or she can fall into another: since this kind of educational institution doesn’t exist in Russia, the tendency is to “name” it something like Институт коммуникативных наук/технологий и искусств. This translation has the benefit of no associations with other Russian educational institutions, and adequately covers the disciplines taught. But it has one fatal flaw: it is utterly meaningless. This kind of translation would be appropriate if the task of the translation were to name the institution and then define the nature of the curriculum in a footnote or within the text.

    The translator will also be tried sorely by the Association for Women in Communications (Ассоциация женщин, работающих в областях/области коммуникации), which unites women in print and broadcast journalism (печатные и электронные СМИ), television and radio production (производство теле- и радио-продукции), film (кино), advertising (рекламный бизнес), public relations (пиар и связи с общественностью), marketing (маркетинг), graphic design (дизайн печатных материалов), multimedia design (производство мультимедийной продукции), and photography (фотография). It describes itself as “the premier association of women communicators worldwide.”

    What are “communicators” in this context? They are people who make their livelihood in the communication professions: специалисты в области коммуникации or специалисты по созданию медийной продукции. I don’t like either option, because I think the reader would immediately ask, “What kind of professionals do you mean?” Here the translator would do well to rework the text so that the professions are clearly understood.

    The communication spheres cited above represent two of the three types of communication: one-way (the skill of presenting information cogently and clearly through a reader-friendly page lay-out, a photograph that conveys a particular emotion or “story,” an understandable text, or through a video or radio show), and persuasive (public relations and advertising, which are designed to convince the reader, viewer or listener to change attitudes or behavior).

    “Communicator” often has the connotation of “someone who is persuasive, who can sway an audience to his side.” In the US, President Reagan was described most famously as the Great Communicator. In conversations, in speeches or at press conferences, he had the ability to present his point of view in a way that was both appealing and convincing. This is something between великий оратор and великий пиарщик, with a bit of the notion of победитель -- someone who always comes out on top. (He was also called the Teflon President, because “no criticism stuck to him.” ) I have seen this translated as виртуоз общения, мастер слов and even великий коммуникатор (on NTV, whose news-writers should win an award for using more calques than all the other Russian TV stations combined). Here it’s back to the drawing board (начинать всё с начала); none of these translations quite capture the sense of the English.
    Communication Arts
    An ancillary communications field is the sphere of “communication arts,” that is, all the forms of applied art that are used in the communication fields. This includes graphic design, advertising images, web design, corporate image (logos, corporate style in letterhead and business cards), photography, art journalism (cartoons, caricatures), packaging, film and video arts, and illustration.

    The Non-Communication Arts
    Although the definition of communication embraces virtually any form of transmission of information or emotion (one Russian source defines it as «передача информации от одной системы к другой посредством специальных материальных носителей, сигналов» ), it is traditionally used in reference to the applied arts or professions in which the medium – or the act of transmitting information – is perceived to be the key skill. In the US it is traditionally not used in reference to the performing arts (acting, music composition or performance, performance art), fine arts (painting, sculpture, drawing), applied arts that are not connected with cognitive messages (furniture design, architecture, clothing design), or to other professionals such as teachers and lawyers, despite the fact that “the art of communication” is an important part of their professions. Translation and interpreting also do not usually fall within the realm of communications (although logically they should), except in some academic spheres of communication studies.

    Cause marketing, behavior-change communication and health communication
    Cause marketing is defined by one of its American founders and practitioners as “using the skills of advertising to effect social change, to benefit individuals or society at large… cause marketing can also help create or change public policy… Advertising which (sic) does that is also widely classified as ‘social marketing’.” In other words, cause or social marketing “sells” ideas, policies and behaviors (such as voting, using seat belts, passing environmental protection laws) by using the same techniques that the advertising industry uses in order to sell products. It is commonly referred to as “conducting a communication (public service/information) campaign.” All this is variously translated as социальный маркетинг, проведение коммуникативной кампании/программы, проведение социальной кампании в СМИ, проведение кампании в СМИ по социальной тематике, проведение пиар-кампании (or рекламной кампании) по социальной тематике. (A public service announcement – PSA – is социальный ролик or социальный клип.) While not entirely precise, these terms are entering the language, and seem to be comprehensible by analogy with other phrases, such as социальная программа, социальная ответственность бизнеса, etc.

    When a campaign is directed at an individual (to use his seat belt, refrain from drinking and driving, practice safe sex), it’s often called behavior-change communication. This is usually translated by the somewhat clumsy, but more or less comprehensible phrase, проведение кампании (в СМИ), рассчитанной на изменение поведения (людей/аудитории). It is my sense that this concept and phrase appeared in the US in response to criticism that communication campaigns were successful in informing people, but not in persuading them to change their behavior. Now it is bandied about (“We ran a BCC campaign”) almost as a synonym for “an effective communication campaign.” In these cases the more common социальная кампания may be a more graceful translation choice.

    “Health communication” is cause marketing when the “cause” is improved health. However, it may include additional “campaign elements” (компоненты кампании), such as counseling (консультирование) as a form of interpersonal (persuasive) communication (межличностная коммуникация), or using entertainment for educational purposes (“enter-educate”): создание и распространение развлекательно-просветительских продукции/включение просветительской информации в развлекательных продукциях. The latter might be a pop song that advocates safe sex, or a soap opera that models behavior (моделировать поведение), such as using seat belts. Depending on the audience, I call health communication просветительская работа в сфере здравоохранения, проведение социальной кампании в сфере здравоохранения, or even Санпросвет (санитарно-просветительская работа).

    “Health communication” and “health promotion” are sometimes used as synonyms in English, but, as defined by the World Health Organization, health promotion involves a broader range of activities, including those which are not strictly communicative, such as reforming health systems, advocating for changes in legislation, and mobilizing communities. Health promotion programs in Russian are commonly translated as программы по укреплению здоровью. One model of health promotion consists of three main forms of intervention (вмешательство): education (просвещение), prevention (профилактика), and protection (здоровье-сберегающие меры/программы).

    We Just Can’t Communicate
    In everyday American speech, “communication” has come to mean a specific speech act “which manifests mutual self disclosure, positive regard for the unique selves of the participants, and openness to emergent, negotiated definitions of self and other.” That is, when an American says, “My husband and I don’t communicate anymore,” “There’s a breakdown in communication with my children,” “The basis of a good marriage is communication,” they are referring to a special kind of talking in which all parties are open, truthful, revealing, exhibit a profoundly self-reflexive understanding of themselves, listen attentively to one another, accept the emotional validity of others’ statements, and support one another. The goal of this kind of communication is deeper intimacy; an enhanced sense of self; acceptance of the points of view of others, and an affirmation of the validity of those points of view (“I hear where you are coming from”); and, if not resolution of interpersonal problems, then at least a willingness to keep communicating (“talking it out”) until a solution or resolution is found. This kind of communication exhibits all three communication paradigms: it is articulate one-way transmission of information, a dialog, and persuasive. It is also something of a balancing act, in which the uniqueness of the individuals is confirmed, each persuades the others of the validity of his point of view, and yet the needs of the individuals and group are integrated.

    The researchers Tamar Katriel and Gerry Philipsen have noted that talk shows like “The Oprah Winfrey Show” or “The Phil Donahue Show,” where guests “communicate openly” about any kind of intimate problem, from addictions to sexual dysfunction to criminal acts, has made this kind of communication something of a national religion, or a national panacea, that cures all that ails Americans spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. “Turning inward and brooding over a problem,” they note, “is not considered a step towards its solution.”

    This is, in many ways, similar to the Russian phrases and speech acts of выяснение отношения (talking about our relationship, solving problems in our relationship) and разговор по душам (a heart-to-heart talk). However, there seems to be an important difference: Americans regard this kind of communication as a “skill” or “work”: “we need to work on our relationship,” “we need to work on communication in our marriage,” “I need to work on my communication skills.” While выяснение отношения or разговор по душам may be difficult, emotionally trying or draining, these speech acts don’t seem to be perceived as requiring skills. Rather they are often spontaneous and relatively effortless. However, the results – enhanced intimacy, resolution of a problem, emotional validation of the speakers -- appear to be similar.

    Clarity of Translation and Definition
    The task of this paper was to clarify some aspects of the word “communications” that Russian translators might encounter in American texts. However, the Russian field of communications is itself developing rapidly, and the questions of “naming,” “defining” and “translating” are becoming critical. As the Russian fields of communication develop, Russian terms borrowed from the English have come to have distinct and separate meanings, sometimes varying among separate fields, such as sociology and advertising. For example, public relations in the US can include not only promoting a person, event, or institution, but simply providing information to the public. The public relations director of a city museum may answer questions about exhibits, or send out a press release on a public talk. This is closer to the “old” Russian term связи с общественностью than пиар, which I think is currently understood by non-specialists in Russia as “promotion,” and is often imbued with negative connotations. (I’ve noticed that the phrase черный пиар is found less frequently now than, say, five years ago; today it would seem that most пиар is largely perceived as черный.) The Public Relations Association in Russia and other groups are trying to “reclaim” the meaning of public relations, but, given the practices of many PR companies and specialists, it is an uphill battle (Сизифов труд).

    The Russian Communications Association (called – misleadingly to my ear -- Российская Коммуникативная Ассоциация) has plans to develop of glossary of terms that would standardize the lexicon. This is a good idea in principle, but will need to be done carefully so that American or other Western definitions are not imposed on terms that already have different meanings in Russian. However, a glossary that everyone agrees to use may clear up some of the ambiguities one now finds in Russian texts. Recently I found the phrases медицинская коммуникация and коммуникация здоровья and could not determine from the contexts if they were translation variants of “health communication” or meant something else entirely.

    Until there is uniform terminology in Russian, communication is a difficult process. It is a rich irony indeed that these fields should be plagued with such breakdowns in communication.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



  14. #14
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    The Circle of Time
    Context (Moscow Times) January 13-20, 2006 By Michele A. Berdy

    A new book finds that 100 years ago, life in Moscow wasn't as different as you might think
    For the curious reader of Russian, there is no dearth of books about Moscow, from reprints of Ivan Zabelin's classic 1904 study "The History of the City of Moscow" and Ivan Kondratyev's 1893 "Moscow of Old" to the tales of old Moscow by Vladimir Gilyarovsky, that most affectionate chronicler of Moscow's more sordid dens and their denizens. Or you can choose from a plethora of contemporary strolls about the city and into its past by journalists and historians -- not to mention hundreds of memoirs, historical monographs, collections of travelers' tales, photo albums and guidebooks. It would seem that there wasn't anything left to write.

    And yet two historians and journalists, Vladimir Ruga and Andrei Kokorev, have produced a delightful new book that fills a niche we didn't even know was empty. "Everyday Moscow: Scenes of City Life From the Beginning of the 20th Century" is a literary time machine that catapults readers back to the Moscow of 100 years ago. It is filled with stories about the daily life of the city's rich, poor and middle classes, lavishly illustrated with drawings, paintings, photographs, advertisements, newspaper caricatures and ball and theater programs. In inviting prose with well-chosen quotes from a variety of sources, including hundreds of newspaper accounts, Ruga and Kokorev follow the seasons of the year, starting with the city's New Year's celebrations and ending with Christmas, then celebrated on Dec. 25, as Russia still followed the Julian calendar. On the way, they offer excursions into Moscow's bygone worlds of shopping, advertising, public and private transportation, law enforcement, housing and entertainment -- from the sublime (charity balls) to the ridiculous (lady wrestlers in the Hermitage Garden).

    Of course, much of that Moscow is gone. A tram no longer crosses Red Square, with a stop in the center by the statue of Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky (now moved to a spot in front of St. Basil's Cathedral), and traders no longer put up booths on the square by the Kremlin walls on the Sunday before Easter. Horse-drawn double-decker trams with an open upper deck (called "imperials") are no longer tugged by nags up the steep slope of Rozhdestvensky Bulvar. The flea market of Sukharevka, where Prospekt Mira now begins on the Garden Ring, is long gone, as is the annual mushroom market that once stretched along the Moscow River embankment by the Great Stone Bridge -- where you could buy a pound of choice dried mushrooms for 40 kopeks. Petrovsky Park (near Dynamo metro station) is now a small sliver of the original sylvan park, where dandies swept out of coaches into restaurants to hear gypsy music all night and merchant families promenaded to show off their marriageable daughters all day. Gone is the citywide fair of Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide, and the crowds of simple churchgoers filling the cathedrals of the Kremlin on Easter night.

    But gone, too, are the tenements and shanties that once filled with city with stench and disease -- and whose back lot privies produced, after dousing with lye, salable fertilizer. Gone is the mud that made crossing Teatralnaya Ploshchad impossible without the loss of a boot, as are the shops and booths selling game that once covered Okhotny Ryad -- and, with them, the bane of the traders' existence. Here Ruga and Kokorev quote Gilyarovsky: "No one keeps cats in Okhotny Ryad, because the rats here are bigger than cats and pay them no mind. ... They keep dogs instead: fox terriers and plain old mutts. Almost every booth has one or two of these canine rat catchers." Some of Moscow's past is definitely best gone and forgotten.

    But as you read "Everyday Moscow," you see that much has remained the same.
    You get the feeling that if you could put a Muscovite of 1906 and a Muscovite of 2006 in the same room, you'd hear the same rants, the same complaints, the same litany of Moscow misery. A turn-of-the-century Moscow newspaper warned readers against buying fish from street vendors: "They sell spoiled goods; some of the fish may even be contaminated. But because they sell the fish for prices several kopeks cheaper, they do brisk business with the poor. Even Moscow's middle class buys from them."

    Spoiled goods weren't the only consumer complaint. Ruga and Kokorev, who have an eye for Moscow's eternal irritations, list almost 20 methods of cheating customers at the produce scale, each with its own special name and technique, such as weighing the produce on thick paper, switching weights or holding down the scale with a finger. One trick, called "doing pyrotechnics," was a sleight of hand by which cheaper goods were exchanged for better ones behind the customer's back. Perhaps it's not called that these days, but who hasn't come home from the farmer's market with a paper sack of rotting tomatoes instead of the plump, blemish-free ones paid for?

    And companies today might be using ads from the early 20th century as guides as they warn against fakes. "If you want to take home real Nizhenskaya Rowenberry Vodka," one ad reads, "Pay attention to the differences on the labels, not the similarities!"

    Muscovites a century ago complained about the indecent foreign fashions women wore, such as jupes-culottes "straight from Paris" -- long, loose pants often covered by an overskirt, which were apparently so scandalous they stopped traffic. They moaned about the dangerous trams nicknamed "Moscow guillotines" for their sad propensity to slice off limbs as they roared through the city at the dizzying speed of 12.5 kilometers per hour.

    When cars appeared, they complained about the drivers and demanded that the authorities punish violators. How gratifying to know that the banker Ryabushinsky's driver spent two months under arrest in 1909 for "high speeds, the car's noise and backfiring." (Don't we wish some rich banker's driver would spend two months in the slammer for a car alarm that screamed all night long?) All the same, city residents complained about the indifferent police -- then called the politsiya -- and the police responded with their own complaints about low pay: "We guard your safety day and night. We're paid little for a difficult job, while life gets more expensive."

    Muscovites complained about the impossibility of finding a decent apartment for a reasonable price, and the misery of slogging out through snowdrifts to see a summer dacha that turned out to be a shed unfit for habitation. And they complained vociferously about janitors who failed to keep streets clean during the winter. "There are hills of ice in the middle of the street, water is dripping everywhere, mostly from the roofs onto the heads of pedestrians. ... Even the newly constructed buildings have roofs that extend to the middle of the sidewalk. Water drips from above, while hillocks of ice underfoot make it impossible to walk down the street." And we thought this was a post-Soviet lament!

    Despite its delights and fascination, "Everyday Moscow" is a bittersweet read. It's sad to read of traditions that are gone forever and holidays no longer celebrated, except as historical curiosities. It's disconcerting to realize that if the city authorities haven't figured out how to plow the streets in over 100 years, they aren't likely to figure it out this winter.

    But it is a delight to see photographs of familiar landmarks and read of the same post-Christmas sales (in the same stores, if now with different names). And it is certainly a delight to know that cat-sized rats no longer infest the city center and outdoor privies do not waft their scent over courtyards. In the end, there is an odd comfort in reading the same communal complaints about the city, to sense the continuity between pre-Soviet and post-Soviet Moscow. We may come and go, but Moscow -- with its impossible traffic, flashy entertainment and endless delights -- is eternal.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



  15. #15
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    http://context.themoscowtimes.com/story/156293/

    The Party Line

    Soviet life created its own weird language. Now, the authors of a new dictionary are attempting to catalog that language before it disappears.

    By Michele A. Berdy
    Published: September 23, 2005

    After a semester studying in Moscow in 1978, I worked at the Novosti Press Agency as an English-language editor until 1982. Every day, I edited articles for the flagship Soviet foreign publications Soviet Union and Soviet Woman with titles like the hortatory Руки прочь от социалистического Вьетнама! (Hands Off Socialist Vietnam!) or the vaguely minatory Мы стоим на страже социализма! (We stand guard over socialism!) or the self-congratulatory Новый мясокомбинат обеспечивает всю Москву! (A new processing plant provides meat for all Moscow!). After eight hours of this virtual Soviet reality -- punctuated with dreadful political information meetings but comfortably interspersed with hourly breaks for coffee, cigarettes, shopping and gossip with my congenial co-workers -- I would go out into the real Soviet world to scrounge for food (hard to find, despite that new processing plant) and then meet up with my friends in the bohemian and dissident set, who were the only people, except informers, who could safely associate with a little capitalist-imperialist like me.


    Each of the three worlds of workplace, street and home had its own distinct language. This is, of course, the rule everywhere, but in the Soviet period the distinctions were particularly acute. And the stakes were high if you slipped up at the workplace and showed yourself to be anti-Soviet. You had to make sure you were using the right code in the right place.

    For four years, I led a normal, schizophrenic Soviet life. Today, like most Russians my age, I recall that period as a mix of comforting stability; sickening lies and hypocrisy; absolute safety on the streets; moments of unbearable tedium; small but intense pleasures, such as being second in line for the first lemons of the season; glorious high culture; occasional moments of tragedy or fear, such as the arrest of an artist friend; and wildly entertaining, literate, wide-ranging discussions around the kitchen table.

    So I opened a new dictionary of the language of the Soviet period the way people open an old high-school yearbook: filled with nostalgic pleasure to rediscover forgotten jargon and phrases, wall posters and slogans, hated authority figures and hilarious in-crowd slang.

    The dictionary, compiled and newly revised by the linguists Valery Mokiyenko and Tatyana Nikitina, is titled Толковый Словарь Языка Совдепии, a name which, like much of the language it contains, is hellishly difficult to translate. Cовдеп was the abbreviation of Cовет депутатов (in full form, the "council of worker, peasant and Red Army deputies") that came to be shorthand for the Soviet Union. Over time, it came to be used especially in the form Cовдепия as a derogatory phrase for the worst of the old regime. To convey the flavor of the original, it might be translated as "The Dictionary of the Worker's Paradise."

    For those who have forgotten that world or never visited it, the dictionary is a gold mine of information. It deciphers all those abbreviations that once slid off the tongue and now are frustratingly opaque: КCCР? Казахская Социалистическая Советская Республика (Kazakh Socialist Soviet Republic). ПГК? Партийно-государственный контроль (party-state control). БПП? Без права переписки (without the right to correspondence, part of a prison sentence that really meant execution).


    AST-Astrel

    Illustrations like this literacy poster appear in the dictionary.


    The book is filled with hundreds of the stock phrases and cliches that we heard all day, every day. Back in the U.S.S.R., everything was a battle: беспощадная/ жестокая/решительная/суровая борьба за победу социализма, за мир, за технический прогресс, за хлеб. (A merciless/fierce/resolute/ bitter battle for the victory of socialism, for peace, for technical progress, to harvest the grain.) Loyalty was lauded: Безграничная преданность делу революции (Boundless loyalty to the cause of the revolution). Approval was avid: Программа КПСС получила горячее одобрение партии. (The Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was enthusiastically -- literally, "hotly" -- approved by the Party.) Socialist countries were brothers: Вместе с нами братские страны! (Fraternal countries are with us!) And victory was always just around the corner: Мы придём к победе коммунизма! (We will achieve the victory of communism!).

    Good things got better: Авторитет нашего социалистического государства на международной арене неуклонно возрастает. (The authority of our socialist government on the international arena is steadily rising.) Митинг на заводе явился еще одной яркой демонстрацией братского сотрудничества между СССР и Народной Республикой Ангола. (The rally at the factory was yet another shining example of the fraternal cooperation between the U.S.S.R. and the People's Republic of Angola.)

    But bad things were threatening: Мировой капитал - агрессор, стремящийся захватить пролетарскую страну. (World capital is an aggressor striving to seize this proletarian country.) Or sometimes just plain rotten: Нью-Йорк - город контрастов и фальшивых человеческих ценностей. (New York is a city of contrasts and false human values.)

    Of course, советский народ (the Soviet people) didn't take this lying down. They rebelled with their language, wittily and wickedly poking fun at the holiest of holies. The dictionary is filled with hilarious examples of anti-Soviet Sovietisms: чучело (scarecrow) for any statue of a Party leader; членовоз (partymobile, or literally a "member carrier") for a limousine that ferried around Party members; Вовчик ("Vladdy") the diminutive of Vladimir used to mean a statue of Lenin; скоммуниздить (to rip something off), in reference to communist expropriation, with some implied obscenity thrown in.

    And then there were unintentional howlers committed by the Leninist pious, such as the names they gave their children in the first years of Soviet rule: Нинель (Lenin spelled backwards), Эра (Era) and Энгельсина (Engelsina) for women and Электрон (Electron), Урал (Ural), Новомир (New World) and Электрик (Electric) for men.

    On the street, the language was not entirely party-line, but not entirely dissident either -- after all, you never knew who might be standing next to you in line. Someone would ask, Что голоса говорят? (What do the "voices" have to say?), meaning "What are the foreign radio stations reporting?" (from Голос Америки -- the Voice of America). Or if there was a line snaking out of a store, you'd ask Что дают? (What's for sale? Or literally, "What are they giving away?").

    If you read the dictionary the way I did, from start to finish as if it were a novel -- and with an old Bulat Okudzhava tape playing in the background -- you dissolve into the Soviet past, which visually comes to life with illustrations of posters and billboards. Anyone who wants to read Bulgakov or Ilf and Petrov in the original Russian will find this dictionary indispensable.

    That said, the dictionary has several drawbacks. The compilers included only selected slang, leaving out such gems as джаз на костях -- "jazz on bones," that is, homemade record albums engraved on old X-ray film. And they don't always make clear the distinctions between pre-Revolutionary and Soviet usage: For example, the word говорильня (gab fest) was used to describe the tsarist Duma, not just Gorbachev-era Party congresses.

    Nor do they always include dates for usage or illustrative quotes, which are sometimes from the post-Soviet period and not from firsthand sources. So, for example, if you read their definition of стиляга (a hot dresser), you won't know that it primarily referred to imitators of Western fashion in the 1960s. Or while they define обкомовский (the adjective derived from областной комитет -- the regional committee), they don't describe the word's associations. The other day I told a friend: Я вошла в кафе и думала: обкомовская гостиница конца семидесятых! (I walked in the cafe and thought: It's a regional committee hotel at the end of the 1970s.) I'd expected the dictionary to decipher the word so that young folks who never actually saw a regional committee institution in the 1970s would know it referred to somewhat shabby pompous elegance: tables with pleated draping around the edges, bottles of liquor lined up on the bar next to a plate of open-face salmon sandwiches covered with a paper napkin. These drawbacks make the dictionary particularly frustrating for translators, who are oddly not included in the list of potential readers.

    And perhaps the authors are themselves too close to the period. There is a slight tendentiousness -- a muted contempt -- that is understandable and even rather gratifying from time to time, but ultimately not appropriate for a scholarly volume. But this is the second edition. I hope there will be a third that will build upon the extraordinary resource Mokiyenko and Nikitina have developed so far.

    "The Dictionary of the Worker's Paradise" (Tolkovy Slovyar Yazyka Sovdepii) is published by AST-Astrel.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    The Grass Is Greener

    Reflections on Men and Crabgrass


    by Michele A. Berdy

    Gather together five women in any Moscow kitchen, and after a brief lament over the high cost of living, some gossip about co-workers, and a desultory review of some of the stranger moments in the country’s political life, the conversation inevitably turns to the Main Topic—Russian men—and doggedly stays there for the rest of the evening. Judging by these conversations, it’s clear that God—either by mistake or out of some inexplicable grudge—created Russian men as a merciless trial for Russian women. Their irresponsibility, irrationality and infantilism are legendary. How bad are they? They’re so bad that even Russian men themselves think they are irredeemable screw-ups.

    During these kitchen debates someone will inevitably express that opinion that we American women are lucky: American men, judging by movies and a few acquaintances, are different. They are responsible, mature, gentle and kind; they weren’t emotionally crippled by the brutality and paternalism of the Soviet regime. They even wash their own socks! (Sock washing being the litmus test for love in Russia, much like driving a man to the airport in New York is an indisputable sign of devotion and self-sacrifice.) Every morning we American women must thank Fate that we were born in such a marvelous country with such ideal men.

    This business about “ideal” would come as something of a shock to their American sisters, or to American men, for that matter, who, Lord knows, haven’t been getting that kind of feedback from their wives or lovers lately. No, I tell my friends, the ideal doesn’t exist in nature or in marriage. It’s not a matter of “better” or “worse”; it’s what you can put up with and what you can’t stand. “You might find Russian men impossible,” I begin confidently, “but some of us actually like Russian men,” (slightly less confidently, under the dark gaze of my friends), “and in fact,” I say, now in a meek little whisper, “some of us even prefer them!” Over the astonished shouts and moans of my friends, I insist that American men might seem ideal, but the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Once you open the gate and wander about the lawn for a bit, you find the same crabgrass and weeds.

    What follows are highly unscientific and subjective ruminations on some of the differences between Russian and American men. The conclusions may be tentative, but the field work was exhaustive.

    He loves me, he loves me not
    Imagine a huge hall. On one side a table of seven American men, on the other seven Russians, all having a rousing good time, with piles of food and batteries of bottles. Which group would I join? I’d make a bee-line for the Russians. Why? It’s my sad experience that in such situations American men often revert to the bravura of the Frat House. They continue talking as if you weren’t there, they hoot at esoteric jokes that you don’t understand (“and then he said: “Home, Jeeves! And make it fast!” followed by howls of laughter). They make it clear that whatever they were talking about was so important that they simply don’t have the time or inclination to deal with you at all.

    What would the Russians do? Seven men would fly up out of their chairs, set before me a plate full of food and glasses filled to the brim with wine, water and vodka. They would tell me how glad they were that I showed up to lighten an otherwise dull evening. They would compete with each other to get my attention, each out-doing the others in flattering toasts to my beauty, intelligence, kindness. Of course, it would all be perfect nonsense. They might, in fact, rather resent my presence, since before I arrived they were busy hammering out a deal to corner the market in precious metals or discussing the latest scam to get around—with dubious legality—the tax code. But they’ve been trained to be nice to women, and besides, they really like women. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out which, from the point of view of single woman, the Fun Table is.

    Relations between American men and women have become so strained in recent years that you sometimes get the impression our men don’t really like us all that much any more, or that we’ve become more trouble than we’re worth. They often claim that feminism is the culprit: “We just don’t know what women want.” Or they blame all the fuss over sexual harassment in the work place, because of which even the most innocent compliment can land you in court. I’ve always found this a rather specious argument: You don’t need the subtlety of a poet to grasp the difference between, say, “Hey, Mary, got your hair cut? Looks great!” and “If you don’t sleep with me I’ll fire you.” No, I think the problem appeared before feminism and sexual harassment suits (in fact, I think these appeared in response to the problem). The problem is the cultural image of a Real Man in America: the Marlboro man, alone in the prairie with his beloved horse and pack of beloved cigarettes, and not a woman in sight.

    If these billboards now dot Russian fields, they certainly don’t reflect the indigenous images of men. If Casablanca were made in Russia, Humphrey Bogartovich would not go off in the night to start a beautiful friendship with Claude Rainoff. In Russian films and myths, men do trudge off into the steppes, usually in chains, but in the next scene, there’s a Sonya or a Katya trudging after them. Cut to: exile on knees, kissing the hand of Sonya, weeping, “Thank God you’ve come! I couldn’t have survived without you!” Russian men need women, and the cultural myths allow them both to need them and admit it. But just imagine a film that has the Marlboro man on his knees, weeping over the hand of his woman, come to save him. We’re more likely to see him nuzzling his horse, the poor guy. American cultural myths just don’t let our men admit their needs or weaknesses. Hence all the pigtail pulling and Frat House bravura—it’s about the only way the culture lets them get our attention.

    Little Russian boys might have pulled the pigtails of little Russian girls, but they grew out of that pretty quickly. They need affection, they crave feminine comfort and support. Of course, true to the traditions of Russian extremism, they go over the top. Operating on the theory that “more is better,” if one woman is good, then, logically, five women would be even better. So it’s perfectly fine to juggle a handful of affairs simultaneously. Or, if a supportive women is good, then how much the better if she takes over the role of bread-winner, mother, wife and lover, forgiving him all his faults and frailties. So it’s perfectly fine to abandon all pretense of maturity and let your woman treat you like a charming but hopelessly ineffectual little boy. Yes, sometimes you’d like to see a bit of that American independence in them. You’d wish they’d be ashamed to reveal some of their weaknesses. You’d like them to pull up their socks (and wash them, too, from time to time). But give me a man who’s not afraid to admit he needs me!

    Will You Still Respect Me in the Morning?
    I’m not the first to recognize that American men have problems talking about—admitting, recognizing, naming, revealing, discussing or even acknowledging—their feelings, or, God forbid, their needs. They don’t do it much among themselves. (Instead they play sports, which allow them to work through stress, anger, confusion, fear and other taboo emotions on the playing field. Or anyway I think that’s what they’re doing out there, rolling around on muddy football fields on Sunday afternoons.) They themselves have recognized the problem and even started clubs that allow them to “bond” and get out some of those bottled-up emotions.

    Oh, what they could learn from their Russian brethren! Russian men do not suffer from bottled-up emotions. In fact, they are one of the least emotionally bottled-up populations on the face of the earth. With the help of the bottle—say, four or five liters of 80 proof vodka—they sit with their friends (three being the magical number of drinking buddies), pour down the liquor, and let it all out: all their fears, all their sins, all their doubts and worries and needs. About 3:00 a.m. one usually asks the others, “Do you respect me?” and the others reply, with the solemnity of a military oath, “Of course, old man, of course.”

    I have to admit that I didn’t get the point of this for many years; it seemed like one of those quaint but opaque mysteries of the Russian soul that we foreigners can never quite penetrate. But now I do: it’s the confessional, it’s the shrink’s couch, it’s a way of getting all those taboo emotions off their chests: Absolut absolution.

    Of course, it would be lovely if they could free their souls without a three-day binge, squandered paychecks and fights about same with their wives and lovers. It would be lovely if they had just a bit of their American brothers’ shame and guilt over irresponsible behavior. But when the system works, Russian men get rid of their “stuff” and don’t come home wound up like time bombs (scheduled to go off during the first mid-life crisis).

    Let’s talk
    If there is one issue that has Russian and American men at opposite poles, it’s the issue of Clarity. American men like clarity. They seem to have a very clear picture of what they want, and they are perfectly happy to Talk About Our Relationship. Or, even if they don’t want to commit, they are very clear about their lack of commitment. This can be very good indeed: it’s good to know where you stand, it’s good to hear his plans and intentions. Only sometimes you feel that he’s got the whole thing planned out just a tad too rigidly. He knows the kind of woman he’s looking for (age, size, type of figure and hair, profession, social and economic background, education, political preferences); he knows when he’d like to fall in love and get married, when to have children and how many to have. If you don’t fit into the plan, you get crossed off the list. It’s Love by Filofax—there’s no room for any fun anymore; the playfulness is gone. Everyone seems to have forgotten that sometimes the deepest love can appear with the most unlikely person.

    Russian men are at the other end of the universe. They hate clarity. As far as I have been able to determine, they only feel psychologically comfortable in a atmosphere of total uncertainty. It’s not that they don’t want to commit, they’re not even ready to commit to a conversation about commitment: they want to keep all their options open. Sometimes you can’t even wangle the most elementary information out of them—like their last names or their marital status—leave alone get some sense of where the relationship is heading. “I don’t know!” he’ll protest, with sigh worthy of Job. “How can I know what will happen to us when I don’t even know what kind of government we’ll have tomorrow!” It turns out that “let’s talk” are the most terrifying two words in the Russian language. Men who have faced down tanks, lived through prison camps, heroically stood up to a brutal regime, will turn tail faster than a jack rabbit at the sound of the first word, “let’s.” The front door slams, the elevator descends, and before you’ve even uttered “. . . talk,” he’s already in Tver.

    On the other hand, Russian men are nothing if not playful. They’ll give anything a try. They might have their tastes and preferences, and in the end they might marry a comfortable sort of woman next door, but it doesn’t matter if you’re 10 years older or 20 years younger, if you’re a brain surgeon and he’s a cop, or even, I suspect, if you’re from another planet—if it feels right, they’ll give it a go. They haven’t read “Ten Steps to a Happy Marriage,” or reports on similarity of background as a precondition for a long and happy union. They still believe in love.

    The Russia Factor
    My American women friends in Moscow say that something odd comes over their boyfriends when they move to Russia. Take a nice, sensitive, responsible average American male, who has learned to share the housework without complaining (much) and take pride in his girlfriend’s professional achievements, drop him in Moscow, and in three weeks he turns into a sexist pig. His apartment is a sty, knee deep in dirty socks and take-out pizza boxes. He starts smoking unfiltered Camels and drinking vodka straight. He drops his accomplished American girlfriend and starts a series of affairs with 22-year old Russian beauties with legs that don’t quit. American women moan in despair. What happened to their men? What does Russia do to them?

    What Russia does to them is let them misbehave. It’s the reason that law-abiding, constitution-thumping American businessmen turn into tax-evading, law-breaking, document-fudgers in Russia: because you can get away with it. Who wouldn’t behave like an 19-year-old jerk if he could do so with impunity?

    But it gets stranger. Say our average American male gets married to one of his Russian beauties. Within a day of his wedding, he immediately reverts to being a sensitive, responsible man who always brings home his paycheck, never goes on a binge with the boys (well, almost never), and willingly, uncomplainingly shares the housework. Except he’s suddenly more “romantic” than he ever was with his American girlfriends, prone to impulse purchases of imported hot-house flowers and gold trinkets fashioned by the descendants of pre-Revolutionary jewelers. You see, he’s grateful. He can’t believe his good luck: His wife doesn’t expect him to manfully bear the burdens of the world on his shoulders, she’ll listen to him in moments of drunken doubt and forgive all his weaknesses. In old Russian, the word for “pity” also meant “love,” and Russian women know how to love sympathetically better than anyone on earth (perhaps much better than American women...?). He thinks he’s died and gone to heaven. His wife is happy, too: Her husband doesn’t disappear for three days to drink away his paycheck, he’s willing to wash his own socks, and doesn’t jump on the next plane when she says, “Let’s talk.” True, he’s a bit uptight. True, it’s hard to get an indication of his emotional state out of him. But, hey, you can live with that.

    Odder still is what happens when Russian men fall in love with American women. At least at first, or at least in some things, they don’t misbehave with us the way they do with the women “next door.” They feel the tug of shame when they drink away their paychecks, they feel the burden of guilt if they start a second (or a fourth) affair (well, most of the time). I’m not quite sure why this happens. I suspect it’s a correlate of the reason why American men misbehave in Russia: because Russian men know they can’t get away with it. Somehow they know that we just won’t put up with the kind of blatant, unrepentant irresponsibility that Russian women silently endure (although perhaps they shouldn’t. . .?). So they just don’t try it. And they find, sometimes, that behaving like a grown-up has unexpected rewards—like self-respect, like not having all that much to confess to their drinking buddies at 3:00 a.m. We’re happy with men who admit their needs without threat of divorce or firing squad. We’re delighted with men who have blissfully uncomplicated feelings for us. True, they won’t wash their socks. And true, they break out in hives when we say, “Let’s talk.” But, hey, you can live with that.

    Perhaps in the end it isn’t a matter of habit or taste, better or worse. Perhaps we might learn a bit from each other in the love and romance department. Or perhaps when the grass is sweet on the other side of the fence, it’s easy to overlook the weeds.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Friday, October 20, 2006. Issue 3523. Page 8.

    Talking About People From Over There

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Заморские гости: foreigners, visitors from beyond the seas

    The very first time an ancient Slav looked out of his wooden hut and saw someone -- or a group of someones -- dressed differently and speaking a language he didn't understand, he needed to invent a new word. How else could he describe these newcomers to the gang at the local watering hole? Over the centuries, Russians have used a variety of words to describe foreigners and foreign lands.

    Now, now, children; play nice. Most of these neutral words use either the prefix ино- (other) or за- (beyond). A good old adjective is заморский (literally, from beyond the seas), which today is used either to conjure up images of fairy tale or fantastical lands -- associated in the Russian imagination with Nikolai Roerich's lovely canvas "Заморские гости" ("Visitors from Beyond the Seas") -- or to describe neutrally a country's overseas territories. You know you are being hyped when a restaurant offers you заморские деликатесы (gourmet foods from lands beyond the seas) -- and you know you ought to check your cash supply before ordering. On the other hand, заморские владения Франции are simply the French Overseas Territories.

    Sometimes journalists and PR folks play around with these associations and you can find humorous combinations, such as a firm that advertises itself as Заморские гости: аудит и консалтинг (Visitors From Beyond the Seas: Auditing and Consulting). Sometimes I like to joke around with this myself. When people ask me, Вы не гость из Прибалтики? (Are you a visitor from one of the Baltic states?) I tell them, Нет, я -- заморский гость. (No, I'm a visitor from beyond the seas.)


    Other за- words have been made from рубеж and граница (both meaning border or boundary) to produce зарубежье and заграница and the adjectives зарубежный and заграничный. As adjectives they are usually translated as "foreign" and as nouns -- "abroad." Since the break up of the Soviet Union, the concept of "abroad" has been further defined as "ближнее и дальнее зарубежье," which translators have taken to rendering as "the near and far abroad." To which I respond: Say what? "The" abroad? Even my spell checker is having a heart attack.

    Ближнее зарубежье simply means the former Soviet republics. So sayeth the Moscow State University Department of Geography, and that's gospel for me. Дальнее зарубежье is every place else. So наши представители в ближнем и дальнем зарубежье is quite simply "our representatives in the former Soviet republics and other foreign countries." Yes, I know this is a few more words, but come on, folks, it's at least English and comprehensible, two highly desirable qualities in a translation.

    Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's move on to the ино- foreigners. The old word инородец (literally, someone of another clan) was the word used in Tsarist times to describe ethnic minorities, especially from the East. Today this word can be used neutrally to describe non-Russians, but I have found it used pejoratively on web sites you don't want to read and I don't want to quote. I've mentally marked it as a word I should use with great care.

    Another word for a foreigner is выходец (literally, someone who has come from): В центре Москвы убит выходец из Киргизии. (A man from Kyrgyzstan was killed in the center of Moscow.) It can be used to describe any kind of professional or personal origin: Он христианин, выходец из семьи арабских иммигрантов. (He's a Christian from a family of Arab immigrants.)

    Иноземец (literally, someone from another land) is archaic and has been replaced by иностранец (literally, someone from another country). Kids call foreign countries за бугром (literally "beyond the hillock") -- something like the American reference to Europe as "on the other side of the pond." In their slang, people and things foreign are забугорные.

    Which I guess makes me a hillbilly.


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based interpreter and translator.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/6406.htm

    Moscow Times

    August 16, 2002

    Three Sartorial Generations of New Russians

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Novye Russkiye: New Russians -- entrepreneurs and businessmen differing in style and income from the "old Soviet" model; very wealthy, often through illegal or dubious means.

    Where did all the New Russian jokes go? Are they just not funny anymore? Or maybe New Russians aren't funny anymore. In the fast-forward of post-Soviet history, New Russians change every few years. Remember the first crop? Guys in maroon polyester jackets, with gold necklaces so heavy the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II could use them for ballast, and a tendency to cross the line between more-or-less legal and outright fraud. Prikhodit v nash yuvelirny kakoi-to Novy Russki -- kanaet, pokazyvaet pachku zelyonykh, i khochet kupit samy dorogoi persten (This New Russian comes into our jewelry store, swaggering, flashing a wad of greenbacks, and wants to buy the most expensive ring in the store).

    The second batch had a bit more polish: gray suits, smaller chains, but the same love of spending money. Nepriyatno bylo s nim obshchatsya. On vsegda paltseval (I didn't like hanging around with him. He was always playing the Big Shot). U nego dzhentlmenski nabor Novogo Russkogo -- Mers, zolotoi krest i yevroremont. (He had the usual for a New Russian: a Benz, a gold cross and European-style remodeling in his apartment.) These are the folks who brought us biznes po-russki, business Russian-style, a blend of illegality, absurdity and fraud. They made it hard for the other Novye Russkiye -- the hard-working ones, who left their research institutes to open their own shops and production companies -- to do business. And harder still for them to do business with foreign investors, who thought that anyone in a decent business suit was a crook. By the late '90s, Novye Russkiye were a spectrum, not a type.

    The newest Novye Russkiye are indistinguishable from their Western business partners, complete with: kostyum ot luchshego londonskogo portnogo, "diplomat," zolotye chasy (a suit from the best London tailor, an attache case, gold watch). (Note that a diplomat in Russian is a hard-sided attache case; a soft leather case is called a portfel.) They've given their Benzes to their fathers and now drive Jeep Cherokees. But there's still a bit of flash: They've gotten bored with the yevroremont in their city apartments and have abandoned them for their kottedzhi. Nothing could be farther from a "cottage," which implies a cozy little country house. These are better translated as "country homes," "country estates" or even "mansions." And since they've still got money to burn, they build them for their relatives too. A building foreman once described his latest client: "On stroil sebye ogromny kottedzh -- tselaya rota mogla tam zhit i drug druga ne videt. A potom poprosil menya postroit kottedzh pod klyuch dlya svoyei tyoshchi. Nu i nu! U bogatykh svoi prichudy. " (He built himself a huge mansion -- an entire company could live there and not see each other. And then he asked me to build a "ready to move in" cottage for his mother-in-law. I'll be damned! Rich people have the strangest habits!)

    By the way, other countries in the former Soviet Union have their own home-grown versions of New Russians: Novye Belorusy, Novye Ukraintsy. In Kazakhstan they have them too, only there the local wits have named them Kazanovy.

    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7062-2.cfm

    Moscow Times

    February 14, 2003

    Forget French, Russian Is Made for Love

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Nerovno dyshat: to be interested in someone, to be keen on someone, literally "to breathe heavily."

    It's surprising that Russia didn't invent Valentine's Day -- Russian is a great language for expressing affection and intimacy. First, Russian gives you a chance for the linguistic equivalent of undressing as you go from the buttoned-up ?? form of address and Gospodin Ivanov to Ivan Ivanovich and then -- traditionally after drinking brudershaft (or, with your arms entwined) -- to the unadorned ty and Vanya. This can take months or years, or, if romance is on fast-forward, a single evening. This is so much more interesting than hyper-democratic American English, with its slap-on-the-back palsy-ness, which seems to have lost the use of honorifics altogether. I can hardly remember the last time someone called me Ms. Berdy -- bank clerks call me by my first name and I get business correspondence from people I've never met that begins, "Hi, Michele."

    Once you switch to ty and nicknames, Russian gives you a plethora of ways to express affection through diminutives. My American friends call me Mickey and in moments of great affection -- Mick. Not very romantic. Russians, on the other hand, almost never call me Miki (for one thing, because it sounds like I'm not a person, but a lot of miks). Instead they call me Mikusya, Mikus, Mikusik, Mikushenka, Mikulya, Mikulenka, Mikusha, Mikushka, Mikushenka, Mikochka, Mikunchik. Every American who enters our office goes through this process of linguistic softening: Laurie becomes Larochka, Ron becomes Ronchik . Lisa is Lizochka . Affection is measured in the number of syllables and sibilants. Is this a great language or what?

    Once you are adding syllables to someone's nickname, you can also use all kinds of terms of endearment: dorogoi (dear), zolotoi (precious, literally "gold"), lyubimy (beloved), rodnoi, rodimy (sweetheart, literally "kinsman," someone so close as to seem like family), mily, milenky (dear, dearest); golubchik (lovebird) zaichik (bunny rabbit), lastochka (darling, literally a "little swallow"), lapushka (literally "little paw"), kotik, kisa (pet, literally "kitty cat").

    Another way of expressing affection is to use diminutives of other words -- to soften the environment around the one you love, as it were. Instead of saying, Posidi ryadom so mnoi, (Sit next to me) you might say Syad so mnoi ryadyshkom (Sit right up close next to me). Or instead of dai ruku (give me your hand), try dai ruchenku (give me your little hand). You can convey this in English by adding words, but the sweetness seems to get lost in translation. (Perhaps I think of sweetness because we use a lot of confectionary terms in English to address our loved ones: sugar, honey, baby cake.)

    And then there's falling in love. You first might have occasion to say, On polozhil na menya glaz (he noticed me). Next you might say, On stal za mnoi ukhazhivat (we've started to date; he's courting me) or more colloquially on za mnoi priudaril, on za mnoi begayet . Then you hopefully will be able to say, On ko mne nerovno dyshit (he's partial to me; literally "he breathes heavily"). And then, on vlyubilsya (he fell in love), on vtreskalsya (he's wild about me), on s uma soshyol (he's mad for me), on poteryal golovu ot menya (he's head over heels in love with me). By this time you've undressed your Russian down to ty and are talking to each other as if you were furry little creatures (Ty moi kotik! Lapushka moya!) . At which point your friends sigh, Akh! Golubki! (What a pair of lovebirds!)

    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/6249.htm

    Moscow Times

    May 17, 2002

    Better Sorry Than Safe?

    By Michele A. Berdy

    Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is co-author
    of a Russian-English dictionary.

    Avoc: (participle) faith in success or good fortune, often unfounded. Can be translated as faith in good luck, trust in a favorable outcome, counting on/expecting a miracle or windfall, "with luck," or "God willing."

    My trusty Dal dictionary tells me avoc is a conflation of a vot ceychas (a-vo-ce) which I'd translate as "any minute now." As in, "Any minute now, Prosya, the rain will come and save our crops" or "You just wait, Vanya, any minute now my company will pay me the wages it owes me and then we can buy some drink." Over time, it's come to represent a deeply held belief in a deus ex machina salvation.

    I think of avocas one of those seminal concepts in Russian life, something that goes into making Russians Russian. It's what Ivan the Fool counted on to get him out of a jam in Russian fairy tales, and what saved him time and again, despite his foolishness. Today it's what spurs the driver of the
    Mercedes 600SL to slip into the lane of oncoming traffic at 120 kilometers per hour: with certainty (totally unfounded) that he'll zip back into his lane before a truck appears.

    It's avoc that was responsible for probably half the babies in the country -- their parents were sure they could make love without protection just this once "avoc pronecyot" (with any luck nothing will happen -- literally misfortune will pass us by).

    And it's avoc government officials count on when they plan a budget in which expenditures routinely exceed revenues by 50 percent: Somehow they are sure that the heavens will open and there will be enough money to pay the pensioners, the military and state employees. (And if the heavens don't deliver, maybe the IMF will.)

    I can see how avoc took hold of the Russian psyche. Imagine you are a Russian peasant, circa 1235. You live in a dark and smoky hovel with about 25 of your closest relatives, two goats, five chickens and a pig. Your daily back breaking struggle to work the land barely produces enough to sustain life, and you never know when you will be wiped out by a drought, flash flood, hailstorm, or early or late frost. Or when the local prince will need all your grain for some campaign in the south. Or when the church will need it to buy gold leaf for the new cupola. Or when Mongol invaders will come screaming over the steppes for a round of raping, pillaging and burning.

    There is no way you can pull yourself and your family out of the muck and mud of poverty by your own efforts. When you are utterly powerless and without rights, the only thing you can do is hope that God willing the prince will collect enough grain before the officials get to your house or any minute now the Mongols will get bored with raping and pillaging and pass your village by.

    We Western plodders, with our Protestant work ethic, our belief that "slow and steady wins the race," our genetic memories of gentler climates and richer land, never enjoy the adrenaline rush of avoc. We rarely walk off the diving board of caution into the void of "it will all work out fine."

    When a Russian driver stops dead in the middle of the Garden Ring at rush hour to consider whether he should pay his cell phone bill now or not, and it doesn't even occur to him to be afraid that the eight-ton Kamaz behind him will turn his car into a concertina -- well, this is evidence of a far deeper belief in a benevolent God than I possess. I envy him.

    But a tip for state budget makers: Remember all those babies. Avocdoesn't always work.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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