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Articles by Michele A. Berdy



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.

Dreaming of a Quiet Life in 2015

Yup, that's what we need this year Ч покой: some inner calm, peace and serenity to get us through what are sure to be 12 tough months.

'C' Is for Crimea; 'G' Is for Googlik

The people have spoken. OK, maybe not all the people, but the few hundred who vote on Russia's слова года (words of the year) have cast their ballots.

Referendum, parmesan, truce - Russia's words of 2014

Hallelujah! The year 2014 is drawing to a close. Of course, that doesn't mean that all the difficulties, trials and tribulations of the year will end magically on Dec. 31 when the clock strikes midnight.

Surviving the Russian Winter

Remember those "you know you've been in Russia too long when Е" lists? Well, I have an addition.

A Spiteful Thanksgiving

Decades ago in the really tough years when inflation in the country was in the triple Ч if not quadruple Ч digits, a Russian friend did some work for a foreign businessman.

A Sophisticated Suffix

A few months ago, before this newspaper's online comments section turned into a troll free-for-all and the kindest post that my columns got was, "Stupid expats can't speak Russian anyway, jerk-head," a thoughtful and curious poster asked about the particle -то, which can be added to words, especially pronouns, usually as an intensifier.

Moscow's Big Stink

When I noticed a bad smell in the courtyard on Monday, I thought the local food shop's refrigerators had broken down again. But no Ч Moscow's Big Stink was citywide.

Beware That 'Goochi' Bag in Moscow

Usually when a foreign word is picked up in Russian, it's because there isn't an exact native equivalent for what it denotes, like дедлайн (deadline).

It's Hip to Be a Hipster in Russia

You know them. They are the cool-looking young people in skinny jeans and long scarves at the bookshop –еспублика, buying the latest novel translated from Japanese.

The Wit and Wisdom of Alexander Lukashenko

Back in the old days, my idea of linguistic fun was tuning in to an interview with former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, whose earnest malapropisms were hilarious, charming and often apt.

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!

The Russian language has lovely ways of expressing tenderness and warmth Ч think of all those luscious diminutives Ч but it is equally strong at the other end of the emotional scale.

The Russian-Language Generation Gap

Scene: dinner time in the Moscow apartment shared by an expat and the expatТs Russian significant other. Both have just walked in the door and are very hungry.

The Hard Life of a Translator

Ah, Friday! You can finally get some sleep tonight after the wild midweek celebration at the office. You all partied with your staff on Tuesday, right?

Keep Your Chin Up, Russian Students!

If I were really paranoid instead of just moderately deranged with a slight persecution complex, I'd say that the Russian language was out to get me.

You've Got to Get the Hang of Russia

It's been a while since I've indulged in my obsession with stance verbs Ч verbs like сто€ть (to stand), лежать (to lie) and сидеть (to sit) that are used in what seem like whimsical ways to describe an immobile something or someone. There's yet another way to be immobile in Russian: висеть (to hang).

The Zombies Are Coming

Here at The Moscow Times language desk we aim to keep our readers informed about the most up-to-date Russian language trends. So imagine our dismay when we realized we hadn't written about зомбирование (zombification), which is surely one of the top words of 2014.