A special column for a special day.
Get to know Russia from the inside out, with podcasts on Russian language, culture and the latest news.
A special column for a special day.
This is the Year That Was in words and phrases.
Which Russian verb do you use to work badly? How do you ride into heaven? It's all in a day's work.
Borshch - is it Russian, Ukrainian, or Polish? Will language tell us? I dive back in time to find out.
Would you want to be урод? In 1254 you would have been happy to be урод. Now - not so much.
You know how you sometimes wish your language had a foreign word in it? I want выборщик.
What do стоить and стоять have in common? Not much - oh, except for one very important thing.
Is it worth reading? How much does it cost? It's nothing. All this for the price of one word: стоить.
Getting Russian prepositions and cases right is my life's goal. Judging by "c" I've got a long way to go.
Russians not only like to go fast, they like to talk about going fast.
Whoever names fruit cultivars in Russia should get a lifetime achievement award.
Watch День Радио, learn Russian, and laugh your head off. Win-win-win.
Russians didn't invent griping, but they have terrific words to describe it.
Take a deep dive into months, calendars, years and other joys of Russian autumn.
Is hurting someone's feelings illegal? Well, sort of. But maybe it shouldn't be. Read on...
For Russians, a heart is way more than a pump in your chest.
The weather might be cool, but people are hot to protest. Here's how to talk about it.
You can never have too much money or shashlyk.
People were voting by rules set in the Constitution they were voting on. How's that again?
Being tired is just so exhausting I feel like a squeezed out lemon. Really.
Тут is such a simple, sweet-sounding word... and if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.
Russian paronyms - летучий, летящий, летательный, летающий and лётный - are horrible.
Answering a question in my mailbag sent me down the rabbit hole of Russian abbreviations - great fun!
When the command нельзя means don't, and when it means something else entirely.
A very silly update on the language of our new normal in Russia.
We start today with a pop quiz about a curious word. Tune in.
You can take the Bible out of society, but you can't take it out of the Russian language.
All you need to know about celebrating Easter and how to talk - and not talk - about eggs.
A column in which I explain the difference between ворон and ворона once and for all. I think.
Feeling a bit down? Cooped up inside getting to you? Here's how to say it in Russian.
In Russian dresses sit, money lies, plates stand and shelves hang. Какой кошмар.
Pandemic vocabulary building for everyone. Just in case.
Russian wits had so much fun with the nullification of presidential term limits.
Are you panicked about coronavirus! Без паники! I walk you through Russian instructions.
All about being in love, breathing, and time flying.
Feeling off? Not great, but not awful? No problem! Russian has a word for it.
Today I write about a Russian word I want to import into English: ремонт.
Do I feel more shame in Russian or do I just talk about it more?
The resignation of the Russian government produced a great crop of humor.
What were the words of the year for 2019? And am I Cassandra?
The interesting bits from Mr. Putin's press conference.
A guide to holiday partying: where are you going, what you should wear, and what you should bring.
It's beginning to look a lot like Holiday Central.
The grammatical lessons of the Moscow metro.
A heated debate about Russian language use is a great way to improve your vocabulary.
Almost false friends, half false friends, semi-false friends... they drive me a bit nuts.
How to talk about talking about your problems.
From оч to хейтерство Russian is picking up new words from all over.
Фарт, фартить, фартовый don't mean what you think they do.
By popular demand, scatological reflections.
Start September with a pop quiz and learn how to let go, let down, put down, and dip in.
This may be my most boring column ever: the impossible grammar of time.
Shooting sparks, pulling down thunder and lightning: Ranting as an art form.
Some thoughts on acrobatic noses.
The way things are going, I thought a primer in protest-talk might come in handy.
One of the cursed questions of Russian life: what's the difference between черника and голубика?
For hedging your bets, Russian is divine.
The words are right but the connotation is totally wrong. A translator's lament.
What do you call those things you stand on? Oh, so many options in Russian.
Here's a verb pair that lets you hit the road in more ways than one.
The earth-shaking discovery of a new Russian conjunction got me thinking about sense in every sense of the word.
On this day celebrating Russia, I decided to look into the origins of the name. Big mistake.
If someone is сказочный, is he magical, unbelievable, outrageous or all three? Read on.
Mastering a little word with a serious punch.
If братство is a group of united men, what do you call a group of united women?
My greatest aspiration is to master Oblomov's ability to laze about guilt-free. Here are some linguistic pointers.
The May holidays are beginning, so you ought to be able to talk about taking a break, right?
Sometimes the simplest verbs in Russian can give you a headache.
A cranky cab driver led me to write a cranky column about what not to call your fare — me.
Russian language learners complain about prepositions. I heard you.
I watched hours of Russian talk shows about Ukraine so you don't have to.
Russian can be fun, if it involves a verb (писать), a family (Пупкины) and lots of prefixes.
What do you call the guy bringing you flowers and serenading you? In Russian it's tricky.
I finally figured out why Russian words for young men are so confusing. We think of age differently.
What you call your male Significant Other in Russian is a linguistic minefield.
Don't become the victim of a puppet master! All you need to know to avoid being manipulated.
Winter's not over yet! Everything you need to know about the cold.
The secret's out! Demystifying the Russian words for 'secret'.
Russian prepositions are a mixed bag. Some are fairly easy. Then there is при. При is a nightmare.
In the rumor mill that is modern life, news of a new Russian verb flew around the social media this week: to Brexit.
About once a year, there is yet another discussion of how best to translate Vladimir Putin’s assessment of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
A short history of Russian New Year's Eve addresses.
Want to know what words and expressions a panel of linguists chose as Russian words of the year? Pour a stiff one before reading.
A Russian primer on holiday tree decoration from an expert. No, really.
What’s a toxic relationship? A toxic crowd? A toxic person? Who knows? But it sounds bad.
A simple query led to grammatical confusion — among experts! If grammarians are confused, what's a poor foreigner to do?
Wisdom, in Russia - and presumably in Russia - is a walk on a tightrope.
On Moscow baristas, polite cliches, and the mysteries of ancient Russian taste buds.
Language specialists have been having a grand time with the phrase “not bad,” trying to determine how it measures up on the Good-O-Meter with the Russian word неплохо (not bad).
Sometimes in Russian it’s the easy words that kill you.
There are five exceptions which require two “n’s” in Russian participles.
What's autumn? A song by DDT? Well yes, but much more.
Last week most of the journalists in Moscow spent much more time than they wanted looking up cuts of meat in dictionaries.
As far as spies and jokes go, Stierlitz is the gift that keeps giving.
This weekend Moscow celebrates День города (City Day), which is actually a misnomer.
This is the Russian version of “don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.”
Its bitterness has given us two terrific expressions.
Once upon a time, a furry little creature lived happily in a tropical forest.
You know how you can tell ahead of time that you’re going to have trouble with a Russian word?
Feeling a little testy? Experiencing some rage? Losing it? Great. Here are some ways to say that in Russian.
"So how about those Mets?" sounds different in Russian.
What do you call that unpopular new law? Oh, something good. Something really good.
Foreigners leave Russia with kokoshniki and happy memories. What do they leave behind? Words, of course!
The names of Moscow's most important landmarks might not mean what you think.
Where did everyone go? Where you should be — at the dacha!
Hey, football fans, welcome to Russia!
Here's what the Russian fans are screaming about.
Today we’re starting with a reader survey.
Note that the victim is always Russia and that the U.S. is always guilty.
For the uninitiated, reading the Russian newspapers these days can be terribly upsetting.
Vladimir Putin: your basic translation nightmare.
Vladimir Putin has turned into a boring speaker.
Let’s bounce off the walls. Let's hit the ceiling and blow a gasket.
In Russian, male cats are fairly positive creatures. The same cannot be said for their female feline friends.
First of all, there isn’t an animal called “cat” in Russian.
Among the many words used to describe the horror in Kemerovo, a couple words keep coming up.
In the Russian metaphorical and mythical universe, the bear is a contradictory creature.
Before he was just our president and could be replaced. But now he is our leader.
What Englishwoman? What did she mess up? Where did she poop?
How is it that I’ve never written about домогательство?
One of the nerdy things I like to do is read scholarly papers on Russian grammar. Hey — whatever floats your boat, right?
Now that it's Lent, how exactly do you ask forgiveness in Russian? It's tricky.
February in Russia is the start of the great Month of Love
Originally the word for a narcotic high, кайф is probably not a word your cultured pensioner-neighbor Мария Ивановна would use.
Director Igor Ugolnikov said the film "The Death of Stalin" blackened the memory of Russians who defeated fascism
Дыра: a hole; a place in the middle of nowhere; a lousy, dirty place
Just like every other year, my neighbors and I are relieved that the holidays are almost over.
This year I found the list to be rather depressing
O царь of wonder, царь of night
I simply refuse to believe that six sotkas are .15 of an acre.
So was it a big hole or not?
I don’t like change. I'm not good at it. I'm more a fan of: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Every year around Thanksgiving, I think about благодарность (gratitude). This year, I broke with tradition to write about неблагодарность (ingratitude) in Russian. To my surprise, it’s slim pickings.
Studies show that there is a direct correlation between level of turmoil and number of consonants in words used to describe it.
Okay, I made that up.
This week Russia may not be marking the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Revolution with much fanfare, but I am.
I am a big fan of what Russians call вводные слова, or parenthetical words.
The what between Marshall and Lily? Oh, the “chemistry" between Marshall and Lily!
Разболеться: to be very ill or in great pain
The place: Moscow. The year: 2005.
You’ll have to forgive us for being a nostalgic mood these days.
A funny thing happened on the way to work this morning…
The thing about cash is — you can’t tell if it’s hard-earned, clean or dirty.
Is there any emotion more satisfying than righteous indignation?
Okay, since it’s the start of a new school year, this is Grammar Friday.
I’ve been writing the Word’s Worth column for over 15 years now, deciphering Russian language. It never gets boring. Now it's coming to you as a podcast. Here's why.