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Articles by Michele A. Berdy

Getting a Slice of the Pie

¬ыгодно is a simple word in Russian. Everyone knows what it means Ч profitable, either literally or figuratively. Right?

What's in a Name?

In my mailbag I found a question about Russian surnames Ч a simple query about the prevalence of "directional" last names, like West and North in English.

Letting Them Have It in Russian

Russian, like all other languages, has its share of obscenities and naughty expressions.

Russian Language Gets 'Import Substitution'

Just when you think you've seen it all, you come across a video of a Russian schoolteacher telling her students that there was a great civilization in Russia 3,000 years ago called —в€та€ –усь (Holy Rus) inhabited by godlike men called богатыри (bogatyrs, mythic warriors and heroes).

Moscow City Day: Party All Weekend Long

This year Moscow is celebrating its 868th anniversary with an extravaganza of over 500 events, including 300 concerts, almost 250 tours and excursions, activities in 100 city parks, and another hundred or so workshops, pageants and other things to do, buy, eat, watch, listen to, or dance to.

Dealing With the Tough Stuff

A couple of weeks ago I saw a query on a translators' forum, and it has been buzzing around my head ever since. It pops into my head in the shower, or when I'm sitting in traffic, or when I'm trying to go to sleep.

Last Blast of Summer: Festival Weekend

If you were planning on hitting the mall this weekend to buy your kids new school shoes and notebooks — don't. The crowds will be horrendous. Instead, keep the kids in sandals and sample one or more of the city's weekend festivals.

Let's Get Spiritual

This week in Russia the WTF-o-meter has been going off the charts. First, Yevgenia Vasilyeva, sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling millions from the state budget, was released on parole after spending less than a month in jail, presumably because she just couldn't get a good mani-pedi in the joint.

Fruit, Jam and a Rite of Initiation for Foreigners in Russia

Visitors to Moscow this week could be forgiven for thinking they'd arrived not in a city, but into a large, outdoor food storage facility.

An Exhibition of Sculptures That Should Be Seen

The show at the Manezh exhibition space that opened on Friday may go down in art history as the subject of an attack, but it should be remembered as the first time in nearly 60 years that the works of three legendary Soviet artists were shown together.

Attack on Exhibit Sparks Fears New Law Has Empowered Russian Marginals

As Russian lawmakers and Orthodox Church voiced dismay over an attack by activists, many observers said the state was to blame for giving people license to attack anything they say offends their religion.

The Sanctions Shambles

If you've been following the news here in Russia, you know that the word of the week is санкци€ (sanction), which means "something bad done to Russia."

Propaganda Lessons From an Old Ц a Very Old Ц Master

How can you convince men to go to off and fight a war in another country? What arguments will be most persuasive? What tricks of rhetoric will get them to sign up? If these questions sound very modern, think again.

Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow

Now here's something you don't read every day: ѕь€ный за€ц с пистолетом напал на контролЄра в московском метро. (A drunk jackrabbit armed with a gun attacked a ticket inspector in the Moscow metro.)

Cutting a Window to the World at the Southern Tip of Russia

At the end of July a new museum of Peter the Great was opened in a place not usually associated with the first Russian emperor: Derbent, Dagestan.

So You Thought Russian Had Six Cases? Think Again

One of the great shocks of Russian 101 — along with the first acquaintance with verbal aspect — was learning about cases (падежи).

All the Russian Words You Need to Sit Down

If you, like me, have come to realize that you lead сид€чий образ жизни (sedentary lifestyle) — now blamed for every ailment known to humankind — 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.