September 30th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

Бомж-пакет is a Russian colloquialism. Now, Google Translate, in its primitive wisdom, translates this word into English as "bum-bag", which is a very literal translation, but doesn't really capture the essence of the word. It's actually used as slang for instant noodles, what Americans would refer to as "ramen." Instant noodles have been the infamous staple of the college student and bachelor diet. From what I've read, the word aims to poke fun at instant noodles, equating it to hobo food essentially. It's actually kind of surprising that instant noodles are popular in Russia, I never would have guessed. Instant noodles in Russia come in a variety flavors, such as, mushroom, mixed vegetable, chicken, and so on. Again, this word is slang, though it's not extremely vulgar, you might not want to blurt it out in a business meeting.

Here are some examples:

—Что ты ел вчера вечером?
— Бомж-пакет.
“What did you eat last night?”
“Hobo ramen.”
— Ты умеешь готовить?
— Только бомж-пакеты.
“Do you know how to cook?”
“Just hobo ramen.”

Минералка, часть первая

September 29th, 2014 — posted by Don

One of the things that surprises Americans going to Russia is the Russians fondness for mineral water. In conversational Russian it can be called минера́лка, although of course the proper word for it is минера́льная вода. Минералка declines like this.


Dozens of types of mineral water have been sold in Russia since Soviet times, and among the most recognized names are Боржоми, Нарзан, Миргородская, Новотерская and Ессентуки. There are dozens more. Even big western firms are in the mineral water business in Russia. The Coca-Cola Company puts out БонАква, and PepsiCo puts out Аква Минерале. (See this link for a discussion of the Russian mineral water market.)

In short, you can find mineral water on every street corner in Russia, so you may hear things like this:

— Какую минералку ты xочешь?
— Боржо́ми.
“What kind of mineral water do you want?”
— Мама, так как мы в ресторане, можно мне водку?
— Тебе только шесть лет. Tы будешь пить минералку.
“Mom, since we are in a restaurant, can I have vodka?”
“You are only six years old. You are going to drink mineral water.”
— Я забегу в магазин. Что-нибудь хочешь?
— Да, принеси мне две бутылки минералки.
“I’m running to the store. Do you want anything?”
“Yes, bring me two bottles of mineral water.”
— Я не люблю тратить деньги на минералку, когда можно пить воду из-под крана почти бесплатно.
— Да что ты! Нельзя пить воду из-под крана. Вредно.
“I don’t like to waste money on mineral water when I can drink tap-water practically for free.”
“You’ve got to be kidding! You can’t drink tap-water. It’s bad for your health.”


September 26th, 2014 — posted by Janell

The human body is made up of many parts: bones, tissues, muscles, organs etc. Part of the organ family is the skin and it is the largest organ of the body. In Russian the word for skin is кожа.The word declines as such:


Here are a few sample sentences.

У неё гладкая кожа. She has smooth skin.
Он обжёг кожу на ноге. He burned the skin on his foot.
Вы заботитесь о своей коже? Do you take care of your skin?
Я узнала об уходе за кожей в интернете. I learned about skin care from the internet .

The skin protects us from diseases and germs that could get into our bloodstream. It has pores to help us to release heat in the summer and hair and layers to keep warm in the winter. There different tones of skins as well as different grades of how oily the skin is. Like any other part of the body it needs to be taken care of so it can look its best and do its job.


September 25th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian word шишка can be translated into English 'bigwig', 'big shot', 'head honcho', so on and so forth. It can also mean 'cone,' but we'll be focusing more on the 'big shot' context today:


Here are some example sentences:

Шишка на подходе! Быстро! Спрячьте водку! The bigwig is coming this way! Quick! Hide the vodka!
— Кто это такой?
— Это Гордон Гекко, он большая шишка.
“Who the heck is that?”
“That's Gordon Gekko. He's a big shot.”
В этом кашемировом костюме он похож на большую шишку! He looks like a big shot in that cashmere suit!
— Где шишки?
— Они стоят на балконе, курят сигары.
“Where are the bigwigs?”
“They're out on the balcony smoking cigars.”


September 24th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian word фасоль means 'bean,' as in the beans that are eaten by people. It declines as such:

  Sg Pl
Nom фасoль фасоли
Acc фасоль фасоли
Gen фасoли фасолей
Pre фасоли фасолях
Dat фасоли фасолям
Ins фасолью фасолями

Interestingly enough, the word фасоль is really only used in reference to beans that Russians eat. Боб is another word for beans, but it usually refers to beans that Americans eat, which it can also mean farm animal feed. It's theorized that the use of боб instead of фасоль was the result of a translation snafu way back when. Most Russians prefer фасоль in general though for the smaller beans that you eat, such as, kidney, pinto, and black. When Фасоль is used in the plural it refers to different types of beans, not individual bean seeds. The word is used only in the singular to refer to beans that are used as food.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Я ненавижу фасоль, она противная! I hate beans, they're gross!
Фасоль полезная, она содержит много белка. Beans are good for you. They contain a lot of protein.
Когда он ест фасоль, он часто пукает. When he eats beans, he farts a lot.
Она съелa три тарелки фасоли! She ate three platefuls of beans!

Don comments: Thanks for the entry about beans, Natasha. I nearly decided to edit out your line about фасоль being used for the beans Russians eat and бобы more commonly for the beans that Americans and animals eat, but then I realized that I've heard the word фасоль used a lot in Russia, but I don't think I've ever discussed бобы there. So I've decided to leave the entry as it is, and hopefully some of our readers will chip in their two cents. I suppose I should note that technically there is a difference between фасоль and бобы. If you are in an anal-retentive mood, you can see a discussion of it here (mirror).