Articles by Michele A. Berdy
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21 April 14
Private education is a relatively new phenomenon in Russia. As the Soviet period drew to an end, more and more foreigners arrived to do business in Moscow at the same time that a few dedicated Russian pedagogues and parents wanted a different kind of education for their children.
17 April 14
It is Friday and you have to get seven signatures on 14 documents from three ministries situated at opposite ends of the city — all by the end of the day.
10 April 14
Insulting slang words seem to go in and out of fashion — or maybe I go in and out of periods of noticing them. Lately it seems that the word гопник and its various derivatives are the new popular pejorative. I thought I knew what гопник meant but did some research to clarify, just in case.
04 April 14
Выступать/выступить is a verb pair that translators like to kvetch about. The basic meaning is to come out in some way, either literally or figuratively. All in all, these are not the hardest words to translate. The only problem is that sometimes your brain seizes up, and you find yourself writing the worst sort of translationese imaginable.
28 March 14
As spring slides into Moscow and the parks will soon go from boring black-and-white to blazing Technicolor, it is a good time to look at how Russians look at things.
21 March 14
As is my wont, I watched President Vladimir Putin give his "Crimea speech" and then printed it out to study linguistically. At first I thought there was nothing to say. This is not the kind of speech you scour for hints of mood or intention. It telegraphs mood and intention.
14 March 14
If you are having trouble understanding Russian-Ukrainian relations, take a look at Russian discussions about prepositions used with Украина (Ukraine). They will tell you everything you need to know.
07 March 14
In Moscow, I have lived through two ideologies, two Olympics, two revolutions and several economic crises. I have wept through terrorist attacks. I have lost all my savings a couple of times.
28 February 14
As I've been reading the news and blogs on events in Ukraine, I came across quite a few words that I didn't understand. So I thought a little primer on Ukraine news might be useful.
21 February 14
I am always uncomfortable when the Olympics come around. Most Russians like sports. They know sports. They get excited about sports.
07 February 14
We'll pause in our round-the-clock pre-Olympic, "is-Sochi-ready?" count-down to the Games for a small commercial break.
24 January 14
I love to read articles and books designed to help native Russian speakers negotiate the trickier aspects of the great and mighty Russian language.
17 January 14
Every year, like millions of my compatriots, I make New Year's resolutions, and every year, like millions of my compatriots, I fail to achieve them. But I'm never the least bit disconcerted to write "lose weight and get fit" for the 35th year in a row.
27 December 13
Now that 2013 is drawing to a close, I checked out my favorite word-obsessed Russian sites for the final tallies of слова года (words of the year).
20 December 13
My heart did a little dance of joy last week when I read the text of proposed changes to the Russian law on state language that had, by one count, 26 grammatical and other errors. See, it is a difficult language!
13 December 13
Make some popcorn, pull out a six-pack, put on your team scarves and settle in for the exciting countdown to the competition. That's right, it's time for the annual Слово Года 2013 (Word of the Year, 2013) contest.
06 December 13
I loved everything about the giant-suitcase-on-Red-Square story. I loved the way that officials and politicians expressed astonishment — Откуда же он? (Where did it come from?) — as if you could just put up a structure 30-meters long and nine-meters high a few steps from the Kremlin and no one would ask what you were doing.
29 November 13
The other day I read an article about a draft law on homeless people being floated by the Moscow city government.
22 November 13
An attentive reader wondered how it was possible to write about пень (stump) and колода (log) without writing about дрова (cut wood, firewood). Easy! I've assiduously avoided writing about firewood for years. I'm afraid someone will ask what a cord of wood is.
15 November 13
Every once in a while in our high-tech, multicultural and international life, Russian kicks out words and phrases that harken back to a pre-industrial, pre-urban and prehistoric existence.
08 November 13
The other day as I drove around Moscow, I was shocked — in a good way.
01 November 13
Мы (we): first person plural pronoun, used for referring to yourself together with other people. Straightforward, right?
25 October 13
When we talk about the "untranslatable" in texts, we mean words and concepts that do not have an equivalent in another language: cultural concepts, names of food or types of architecture, etc. But it turns out the untranslatable might also be associated with something as mundane as cell phone payment plans.
18 October 13
As I was walking in the park the other day, a woman ran up to me and asked: Вы не видели маленькую собаку? This means: Have you seen a little dog? But she asked the question in the negative, something like: You haven't seen a little dog, have you?
10 October 13
As the days grow shorter and colder in Moscow, ambitious — or bored — expats often venture into the world of culinary experimentation. Burning with foodie ardor and armed with a two-page shopping list, off they go to the market. All is well until they approach the meat counter.
04 October 13
Back from a short vacation and looking through the mailbag: Let's see. … "Is there a word to describe the colder-than-usual fall weather in Moscow?" Yes, dear reader, there are actually many words to describe the weather. Unfortunately, The Moscow Times is a family newspaper, and I can't share them with you.
27 September 13
After dipping into the rich pools of много (a lot) and мало (a little), I had the bright idea of looking at what's in between them. So I peered into the Russian middle ground — and discovered that it's pretty sparsely inhabited.
20 September 13
On Sept. 11, when I opened up my virtual U.S. newspapers expecting to find 9/11 anniversary coverage, I found a letter from Vladimir Putin to the American people instead.
13 September 13
Once upon a time, after the great lexicographer Vladimir Dal ate too many psychedelic mushrooms and went into a dream state, he announced to his charges — the words in his dictionary — that he was organizing a contest to see which words had the most synonyms.
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06 September 13
There is nothing worse than having a friend tell you the price of something when you have no idea if it's ridiculously expensive or the bargain of the century.