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Articles by Michele A. Berdy



Sit, Stand and Be Merry

If you, like me, have come to realize that you lead сид€чий образ жизни (sedentary lifestyle) Ч now blamed for every ailment known to humankind Ч it may come as something of a relief to learn that there are lots of ways to sit in Russian that do not cause premature death.

Mind Reader

A while back an interesting new Russian phrase caught my eye: сканировать мысли (to scan thoughts). After some research, I discovered that there are three separate usages floating around.

Go On, Treat Yourself

Several residents of the somewhat narrow circle of language geeks that I inhabit sent me an article about the reappearance of Russian words that are "markers" of poverty.

The Very Idea!

ќчень (very) is one of those handy little words you learn in Russian 101 and then use every day. Add it to any verb to jack up the intensity and emotion.

Technology, Theater and Literature Team Up for 'Chekhov is Alive' Marathon

On Friday a group of Russian culture organizations and tech companies teamed up to launch a new Internet literature event. The Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, Google, MegaFon and the Russian Book Union announced an online marathon reading of works by Anton Chekhov. The marathon, called "Chekhov Is Alive," will be on air for 24 hours on Sept. 25.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Every spring Russia's youth endures the nationwide torture called ≈√Ё Ч ≈диный государственный экзамен (unified state examination) as parents nervously pace and wonder if all that репетиторство (individual tutoring) was worth the thousands of rubles they paid.

Sea Dogs in the City

In addition to my regular work, I have a second job as a driver and escort: Several times a month I drive Riley, my Finnish Spitz mix, to her gigs as a therapy dog.

I Put a Spell On You

In Russian, and therefore in Russia, a lot of people, things and actions are charming. When the charm is pleasant Ч a song, a cute kid, a puppy Ч speakers often use the verb pair очаровывать/очаровать (to charm) and related words.

Magical Realities in Irina Yevteyeva's 'Arventur'

The 37th Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) begins on Friday, June 19 with the traditional tuxedos, diamonds and traffic jams.

Sink Your Teeth Into This!

I love trolls Ч or rather, I can't stand trolls, but sometimes I find what they write interesting Ч or rather, I can't stand what they write, but sometimes I enjoy studying their fractured English and guessing what the Russian was.

A Moscow Minute

When is a minute not a minute? Generally, with almost every Russian expression using the word минута (minute). In common usage, минута ranges in duration from an instant to a couple of months.

Hot Air, Nonsense and Abracadabra

Lately I have been boring myself and everyone else with the same old words to describe what's going on in the world.

Saving Russian From Pesky Foreign Words

Here at The Moscow Times language desk, we like to keep on top of the latest language trends and policies.

Russian Shows Its Sweet Side

Now that Victory Day hysteria has died down, I can get back to other obsessions, like the overuse of diminutives in Russian.

A Lifetime of Victory and Remembrance

Being an American on holidays in the Soviet Union wasn't always easy.

Getting In the Mood for May Day

Readers, put your hands on your heart and swear that you really, truly, honestly know the name and origins of the May 1 holiday celebrated all across Russia.

What Not to Call Your Girlfriend

A few weeks ago a philosophical-linguistic-moral-generational argument began when one online publication used the word тЄлочка (diminutive form of heifer; slang for a young woman) in a tweet.

Russians in a Tizzy Over Twerking

Forest fires are sweeping the countryside, the economy is plummeting, a war is being waged in eastern Ukraine, and what are we discussing on Internet?

The Best Job in Russia

We haven't had a Friday pop quiz in ages. Here's one: What is „ќѕ? a) a chain of Japanese restaurants; b) the sound coins make as you deposit them in the annoying hypermarket payment machines; c) a salad of chopped greens; d) a rent-a-cop agency; e) get to the point already.

Get Off the Couch and Get Over Yourself

A while back I decided to do a little project Ч something like a campaign for self-improvement through Russian culture, or maybe it was getting to know Russian culture through a self-improvement campaign.

Welcome to Moscow's Yucky, Slimy, Bloody Muddy Spring

If you've lived in Moscow for a while, you already know the good and bad things about spring.

The Cheek! Some Useful Russian Insults

Lately I have taken to sputtering. As I read or listen to or watch the news, I find myself uttering strange staccato sounds and making odd tsking noises, like an old teletype machine clicking out the headlines.

How Soviet Terms Are Creeping Back Into Russian

After the assassination of Boris Nemtsov and the days of mourning and horror that followed it, it's hard to find my usual joy in the Russian language and its constant, fascinating evolution.

All the Russian Vocabulary You'll Need for Lent

This week begins the seven-week fast — ¬еликий ѕост (Lent) — that precedes the great celebration of ѕасха (Easter). For pious Orthodox Christians, this is a time of abstinence, prayer and good works. But to the contrary, for vegans and vegetarians, i

A Mouthful of Russian Spells Fun For Foreigners

I'm still stuck on mouth expressions, mostly because it gives everyone practice in pronouncing рот when it's declined. There is nothing more fun for foreigners than a mass of Russian consonants with nary a vowel in sight.

True Hospitality

On a rainy afternoon in September, dozens of children gathered in the Renaissance Moscow Monarch Hotel to watch their peers perform, join together in creative workshops, and then chow down a feast that included mini-hamburgers and tiny pizzas.

Keep Your Mouth Shut!

Every once in a while I like to do a linguistic survey of various body parts. Don't get excited. Nothing illegal or immoral Ч just a review of Russian expressions that include, say, a hand or foot.

Russia's Love of Abbreviations, From Gulag to LUKoil

Here at The Moscow Times language desk, we've written a lot about gaffes in the translation and interpretation of official statements over the years. Once upon a time, those mistakes were just that — mistakes.

Translation Is New Weapon in Propaganda War

Here at The Moscow Times language desk, we've written a lot about gaffes in the translation and interpretation of official statements over the years. Once upon a time, those mistakes were just that Ч mistakes.

Trying to Stay Calm in a Russian Supermarket

While I was swanning through the produce section of a supermarket the other day, humming a little food tune as I contemplated dinner, a price tag suddenly stopped me dead in my tracks.