Articles by Michele A. Berdy
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28 November 13
The other day I read an article about a draft law on homeless people being floated by the Moscow city government.
21 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.
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.
30 August 13
Ah, nature … the last halcyon — er, cold and stormy — days of summer, when nature is still at its peak — er, starting to fade — and you can enjoy a carefree afternoon tramping across a field with your dog.
23 August 13
So you want to be mayor of Moscow? Join the crowd! But be prepared. Running for the highest office in the capital has some major stumbling blocks — linguistically, that is.
16 August 13
In my ongoing effort to get a handle on all those little Russian words — you know, like так (so), как (how), что (what) and да (yes, and) — and their confusing combinations, this week I'm stuck on вот.
08 August 13
There you are in the kitchen, opening a forgotten container of leftovers or cutting open the plastic wrap on some meat you bought and forgot. Pause to retch, then fling open the window and grab your room freshener. It stinks in here.
02 August 13
There is nothing worse than trying to pass yourself off as a fluent and knowledgeable Russian speaker and being asked a question that you can't answer and — worse yet — never thought to ask yourself.
26 July 13
Every evening across all of Russia, millions of women's voices are raised in one lament: Чем сегодня кормить семью? (What am I going to make my family for dinner?)
19 July 13
The day that I got my first personalized telemarketing call — when a marketer asked for me by name on my cell phone — I realized that I ought to be paying more attention to the surveillance issue.
12 July 13
If my park is representative of Russia, the country is experiencing a boom in multiple births.
05 July 13
What do I know about pigs? I know that some are more equal than others, that you shouldn't cast pearls before them and that only when they fly will my apartment house management company fix the roof.
28 June 13
One of my favorite little games to entertain myself on quiet evenings in Moscow is to read the TV guide and try to guess the name of the American television show from the Russian translation.
21 June 13
I think it's fair to say that Russians are good talkers. They like a good conversation, and they value people who are open and forthcoming.
14 June 13
With all this talk of divorce in the air, it seems that I've written a lot about the language of love but not much about the language of love's end. Breaking up may be hard to do but describing it in Russian isn't.
07 June 13
Колено is a strange little word. It has a huge range of meanings: knee, elbow, bend, generation, dance figure and stunt. And its conjugation sometimes depends on the meaning, and sometimes on the speaker.
31 May 13
A couple days ago I saw a great ad for a new, independent, online news show: "Телевидение лучше делать на коленке, чем на коленях" (Literally: It's better to make television on your knee than on your knees). I thought: Cool word play!
24 May 13
Way back in Russian 101, first we mastered the personal pronouns like мы (we), он (he) and они (they) and got through the shock of two forms of "you" (вы and ты).
17 May 13
One of my weak spots in Russian is the use of prefixes. Just the other day, I wanted to say that my nose was stuffed up (нос заложен), and instead said нос наложен, which sounds like my nose was either pasted on or under arrest. This was highly entertaining to my Russian friends and solidified my reputation as a very strange, semi-literate, modern version of Nikolai Gogol.
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19 April 13
Like bears waking from their long winter hibernation, native and temporary Muscovites are sleepily crawling out of parkas and fur hats into the light of spring — just in time for National Funny Russian Word Day.