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Medvedev Is So Duly Diligent

???€?µ????-???????„?µ?€?µ???†????: news conference

As I watched President Dmitry Medvedev's news conference and then pored over the transcript, looking for linguistic signs of his future and the future of the country, I found it hard to keep my pseudo-Kremlinologist hat on. I kept turning into a mother hen, muttering: Must you always sound so tentative? Do you know that you said ?? ???‡???‚?°?? (I think) 37 times?

It was all pretty bland. No sensational revelations of rifts in the tandem, no announcement of candidacy and a lot of platitudes like this: ?‘???»???????µ ?†?µ?»?? ?·?°???»???‡?°???‚???? ?? ?‚????, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ???·???µ?????‚?? ?¶???·????, ???·???µ?????‚?? ???°???? ?¶???·???? ?? ?»???‡???µ????, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ?»?????? ???µ?±?? ?»???‡???µ ?‡???????‚???????°?»??, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ???€?????µ???? ?????…???????? ?????????????°?»????, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ?????†???°?»?????‹?µ ???€?????€?°?????‹ ???‹?????»?????»?????? (Our major goals consist of improving life, changing life for the better, so that people feel better, their incomes rise and social programs are carried out).

True, some of the journalists were a kick. I liked the chutzpa of the fellow who wanted the president's parking space: ?? ?·???°??, ?‡?‚?? ?? ?’?°???µ?? ???????€?????? ?µ???‚?? ?????° ???°???????????µ???‚?°, ?° ?????µ ???°???????? ???????‚?°?????‚?? ???µ?????µ. ???µ ?????°?????‚?µ ?»?? ???»???‡?°?µ?? ???°???????????µ???‚?? ?? ?°?€?µ??????? (I know that your wife has two parking spaces, but I don't have any place to park. Would you mind renting me one of your spaces?)

Sometimes Medvedev spoke without hemming and hawing, like his response to a question about the possible threat that former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky posed to society: ?’?????€???? ?????€???‚?????? ?? ???‚???µ?‚ ?‚???¶?µ ?????€???‚?????? — ?°?±?????»???‚???? ?????‡?µ?? ???µ ?????°???µ?? (The question was to the point and so is the answer: He poses absolutely no danger).

And he certainly peppered his speech with interesting? loanwords and professional slang, like ???????µ???‚???»?????°?‚ (investment climate), ?°?????°?? (iPad) and the spectacular ??????-?????»?????¶?µ???? (due diligence). When asked about using filler words, he joked: ?—???°?µ?‚?µ, ?? ?????????° ???????°?», ?‡?‚?? ?????°?·?°?‚??, ?€?µ?????», ?‡?‚?? ?????°?¶??, ?‡?‚?? ?µ???‚??, ?????????€?µ?‚????, ?‚?????°, ?‚?°?????µ ???»?????°, ?????‚???€?‹?µ ?????µ ???µ???°???‚ ?¶???‚??, ?? ???????µ?€???µ?????? ???‡?µ??????????, ?? ???‚ ?????… ?±?????? ???·?±?°???»???‚?????? (You know, when I thought about what to say, I decided that I'd say there is, for sure, like, these words that mess up my life and it's absolutely obvious that I'm going to get rid of them).

But all the same he defended good speaking habits: ???‡?µ???? ???°?¶????, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ?????µ ???‹ ???‚?°?€?°?»?????? ?????????»???·?????°?‚?? ???€?°?????‚?????? ?? ???‡?µ???? ???€?°?????????? ?€?????????????????? ?€?µ?‡?? (It's very important that we all try to use literate and very eloquent Russian speech). This should clearly be done with ??????-?????»?????¶?µ????.

But the president's directness broke down every time he talked about his plans for re-election (or not). You don't have to be a Freudian to pick up on the convoluted replies filled with clauses and pauses: "???°???????? ?€?????° ?€?µ???µ?????? ?????»?¶???‹ ???µ?»?°?‚?????? ?????µ?????? ?? ?‚???‚ ???????µ???‚, ?????????° ???¶?µ ?????·?€?µ?»?? ???»?? ???‚?????? ?????µ ???€?µ?????????‹?»????, ?????????° ???‚?? ?±?????µ?‚ ?????µ?‚?? ?????????‡?°?‚?µ?»?????‹?? ?????»???‚???‡?µ???????? ???„?„?µ???‚" (This kind of decision should be made at exactly the moment when all the preconditions for it have been met, when it will have an ultimate political effect).

Say again?? 

"?•?‰?‘ ?€?°?· ???????‡?‘?€???????°??: ?’???‘ ???‚?? ?????»?¶???? ???????‡???????‚?????? ?????€?µ???µ?»?‘??????????, ???????»???µ ?€?°?·???????????? ???†?µ???°?€????" (I'd like to stress again that everything must go according to a specific, rational script).

What does this mean exactly? "?•???»?? ?? ?????€?µ???µ?»?????? ?????µ?»?°?‚?? ?‚?°?????µ ?·?°?????»?µ?????µ, ?? ?µ???? ?????µ?»?°??." (If I determine to make such an announcement, then I'll do it.)

And when might that be? "???¶?µ ?????‚?°?»?????? ?¶???°?‚?? ???µ ?‚?°?? ??????????" (There isn't that long to wait).

?–???‘??-?? (We're waiting).

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is author of "The Russian Word's Worth" (Glas), a collection of her columns.

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