Водить

February 24th, 2014

There is a subset of verbs in Russian that in the US are sometimes taught as verb triplets instead of pairs. You can find a list of those verbs here, and a rough summary of how those verbs are used here. Among them is the multidirectional verb водить, which conjugates like this:

Imperfective
Infinitive водить
Past водил
водила
водило
водии
Present вожу
водишь
водит
водим
водите
водят
Future буду водить
будешь водить
будет водить
будем водить
будете водить
будут водить
Imperative води(те)

We can say that the verb means ‘to lead [someone somewhere by your own power].’ But to be honest we normally translate it as ‘to take’ in English. For instance...

Я вожу дочку в школу каждое утро. I take my daughter to school every day.
Каждый вечер папа водит соседа в кафе. Там играют в шахматы. Every evening dad takes the our neighbor to a cafe where they play chess.

Generally speaking the verb means that you are taking someone somewhere but not using a vehicle to get there. It can also be used if a vehicle is involved but the vehicle is not germane to the discussion. For instance, in the following sentence, the person speaking may live near the Kremlin Armory (so they can walk there with their guests), or they may just live somewhere within the city limits, but the fact that they will take the subway to get to the armory is simply not relevant to the story.

Мы часто водим гостей в Оружейную палату. We often take guests to the Kremlin Armory.

Водить can also mean to lead people around a place (random motion inside a prescribed area). In this meaning the preposition по + the dative case is used. For instance:

Моя сестра — доцент. Она водит посетителей на эксурсии по Третьяковской галерее. My sister is a docent. She takes visitors on excursions around the Tretyakovsky Galery.
Мой брат был эксурсоводом. Он водил туристов по городу. My brother was a tour guide. He used to show people around the city.

In the past tense the verb can also mean to take someone somewhere, and the implication is that they are no longer located at the location you mentioned.

Я вчера водил бабшуку на почту. Yesterday I took grandma to the post office
Я вчера водил своих девушек на престижную дискотеку. Вау, как им там понравилось! Я произвёл на них неизгладимое впечатление. Yesterday I took my ladies to a classy club. Wow, they really liked it! I made a huge impression on them.

Мусор

February 19th, 2014

The Russian word мусор is a noun that means ‘trash.’ It is a first declension noun. It is never used in the plural.

Sg
Nomмусор
Accмусор
Genмусора
Preмусоре
Datмусору
Insмусором

Here are some examples:

Вынеси мусор, пожалуйста. Take out the trash please.
В мусорном ящике нет мусора. There's no trash in the trash can.
Брось скорлупу в мусор. Throw the eggshells in the trash.

Russia, like many countries, disposes of their nation's trash by means of landfills. Being that Russia makes up 1/8 of the Earth's landmass they should have no problem finding places to dispose of trash, at least that's what many people in the government and waste management industry believed. That notion came to a screeching halt once a lot of the landfills started filling up. The fact that most of these full landfills are located on the outskirts of cities and towns raised the stakes even higher. It has posed a lot of problems to both the infrastructure and the nearby residents. As the amount of trash increases, the air and soil quality surrounding the landfill decreases. This makes for very unhealthy and stinky conditions. Nobody wants to step outside their house on their way to work just to be greeted by a big whiff of last year's dinner. I'll pass on those leftovers, thank you very much. The waste management industry is working with the government to find an reasonable solution. It's a work in progress, but until it gets resolved, plug your nose.

Interestingly enough, the word «мусор» is also used as a derogatory name for policemen in Russia. It's equivalent to calling a police officer 'pig' in the United States. I do not recommend using this slang within earshot of any law enforcement officer, because it'll probably get you into a pretty nasty situation. When used in this manner the word does have a plural form: «мусора».

Here are some examples:

Не едь по Калинина, там мусора.¹ Don't take Kalinin Street: the pigs are there.
Не превышай скорость по Вишневского, а то мусора оштрафуют. Don't speed on Vishnevsky Street, otherwise the pigs will ticket you.

¹ The word едь is substandard Russian speech, not something that a foreigner should emulate. But if a Russian is going to be rude enough to call the police мусор, then he'll probably allow himself this kind of grammatical irregularity as well, so I think we'll keep the example as it stands.

Путешествовать

February 17th, 2014

One of the Russian words that can be translated as ‘to travel’ is путешествовать. It conjugates like this:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive путешествовать попутешествовать
Past путешествовал
путешествовала
путешествовало
путешествовали
попутешествовал
попутешествовала
попутешествовало
попутешествовали
Present путешествую
путешествуешь
путешествует
путешествуем
путешествуете
путешествуют
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду путешествовать
будешь путешествовать
будет путешествовать
будем путешествовать
будете путешествовать
будут путешествовать
попутешествую
попутешествуешь
попутешествует
попутешествуем
попутешествуете
попутешествуют
Imperative путешествуй(те) попутешествуй(те)

In some senses this verb is exactly like the English verb ‘to travel’:

Моя бабушка не любит путешествовать. My grandmother doesn't like to travel.
Ты часто путешествуешь? Do you travel often?
How often do you travel?
В прошлом году я всё лето путешествовал. Last year I traveled the whole summer.
— Какие планы у тебя на лето?
— Я всё лето буду путешествовать.
“What are your plans for the summer?”
“I'm going to travel all summer long.”

One difference between this verb and the English verb ‘to travel’ is that in English we talk about traveling to a place. In Russian you can't use в + accusative or на + accusative with путешествовать. Instead you talk about traveling ‘around’ a place. In that sense we use по + dative:

В прошлом году я путешествовал по Европе. Last year I traveled around Europe.
— Какие у тебя планы на лето?
— Я буду путешествовать по Норвегии.
“What are your plans for the summer?”
“I will be traveling around Norway.”
— Ты любишь путешествовать за границей?
— Нет, больше всего я путешествую по местам, которые я уже знаю.
“Do you like to travel abroad?”
“No, I mostly like to travel around places I already know.”

Суеверие

November 5th, 2013

Суеревие is the Russian word for superstition. This word declines as such:

SgPl
Nomсуевериесуеверия
Accсуевериесуеверия
Genсуевериясуеверий
Preсуевериисуевериях
Datсуевериюсуевериям
Insсуевериемсуевериями

У него нет суеверий. He does not have superstitions.
Мне не нравятся суеверия. I don’t like superstitions.
Как ты справляешься с абсурдными суевериями своей мамы? How do you deal with your mother's ridiculous superstitions?
Я слушала лекцию о русских суевериях. I attended a lecture on Russian superstitions.

A superstition is the belief in the supernatural beings or events. Most all countries have them and they are rooted into their cultures. Some of the American ones are don’t break a mirror unless you want seven years of bad luck. If a black cats crosses your path you are also going to have bad luck. We have some rhymes to help people remember them as well, such as step on a crack will break your mother’s back. Some of Russia’s superstitions are: On exam day you shouldn’t wear anything new, make your bed or cut your fingernails, a funeral procession is good luck unless you cross its path. Both the US and Russia believe that breaking a mirror is bad luck. For Russians looking into a broken mirror is also is bad luck. Nowadays superstitions are not as highly regarded but certain ones are still believed by older generations. Growing up as Christian I was taught that superstitions are fun to think about but not something to live by because the supernatural of that sort is not real or worth worry about it.

Череп

October 31st, 2013

The word for head in Russian is голова. But the word for the major bone structure that makes up head, or the skull, is the череп. This word declines this way:

SgPl
Nomчерепчерепа
Accчерепчерепа
Genчерепачерепов
Preчерепечерепах
Datчерепучерепам
Insчерепомчерепами

У него маленький череп. He has a small skull.
Она родилась без черепа. She was born without a skull.
Она сломала себе череп. She broke her skull.
Это моя любимая чашка из черепа прадедушки. This is my favorite cup [made from] the skull of my great-grandfather.

The skull, like all the other bones, is there to protect the organs behind it and in this case the brain. The skull is made up of minor bones connected by sutures and joints. The two major parts of the skull are the mandible (the jaw) which is part of the facial bones and the cranium. In English we have a lot of terms that incorporate the word skull. The word numbskull is an example which translates into Russian as тупица. We all know someone who has acted like a numbskull once in a while. Usually a numbskull is someone who did not quite think something through and did something or said something that was stupid or mean. I know when I have to work on a school project with a group there might be someone that isn’t quite competent and we have to talk to that person to help them pick up the slack.