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One suggestion for a future word would be the usage and government of выходные дни and уикенд. (uikend and vykhodnye dni, just in case my Cyrillic isn't coming through).
I'm a South Korean student, studying Russian language in Ukraine.
I've been in Ukraine for about two months but it is still very hard to understand the language.
I found your site by chance and was moved by your knowlege on Russian and English languages.
All the contents are very educational, helpful.
Also your explanation on Russian words makes me easy to understand the language.
Thanks again for your efforts and content.
Don's response: I don't think wanting to know the names of trees and flowers is silly at all! I don't have a ready-made list of them, but the first place I would probably look for such a thing would be Genevra Gerhart's “The Russian's World: Life and Language.” It's a marvelous book.
Don responds: Participle formation and use is one of my favorite topics! I've intended to put together a set of ultimate participle references for some time. I'll let you know as soon as I put them together.
The organizing principle for this blog is actually vocabulary items more than grammatical structures, but I'll try to include more verbal adjectives and verbal adverbs in the example sentences.
If not, I'd suggest to rather use ordering that seems standardized to me. It is "Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Instrumental, Prepositional".
I think it's sorted this way in many languages. This ordering is allways used in czech languge (we have one extra class - vocal). As far as I remember I think that same ordering uses german (they've got on the contrary just 4 classes). And wherever I looked (mostly Internet) I found this ordering when russian grammar was explained. But I don't claim it is allways so in russian.
I'd want to know what other non-native russian speakers think about that. Even oppinion of someone who's gone through russian grammar school would be interesting, cause that's the place where kids learn these rules almost like poems.
Don responds: The traditional order used in Russian textbooks and references is a variation of the order used to describe Latin and Greek. It continues to be used in Slavic study for only one reason: inertia. The linguistic order is a more rational system because it groups overlapping endings in such a way that they are easier for a beginning student to learn. You can see the two systems neatly contrasted here.
When I first began studying Russian, I learned the traditional order; I eventually taught it as well. I first came across the linguistic order when studying Old Russian. In 2002 I began teaching Russian from a textbook that used the linguistic order in its reference materials. Having now taught using both systems, I have no doubt that non-Russians learn Russian declension much better using the linguistic order than the traditional order.
May 25, 2009
Don responds: I like the idea of adding a random entry button. I'll keep my eyes open to see if there is a way to integrate such a thing without having to master the whole code base for the blogging software.
May 26, 2009
Don responds: Today I became obsessed with the idea of generating a top ten list for RWotD, and on the way figured out that generating a complete alphabetical list of entries and a random link were pretty simple as well. I haven't mastered the code base for b2evolution, the software on which RWotD runs, so the pages do not look as clean as the rest of the interface, but they are fast-and-dirty functional. For now I am happy with that.
Thanks again, Matt
Congratulations on your residency in Russia! I have found the study of Russian to be continually fascinating for over thirty years now, and I have found Russian hospitality to be some of the best on the planet. I expect you will have the same experience.
All the best, Don.
Charles from Oxford, UK
I am a novice to computing,and to the Russian language; but found your instructions clear and easy to follow.
I will have no hesitation in following your excellent website in the future.
I am self-studying Russian and am truly enjoying your blog. Your stories and explanations make learning a very enjoyable experience and also help make the information stay in memory.
I hope you will be able to help me understand when it is appropriate to use different words meaning "bakery."
Specifically, I am looking at the difference between булочная and пекарня. It seems that булочная is a store, while пекарня is a baking establishment.
Which word would be used if the business is both a baking establishment and a store?
Also, I have seen the word хлебопекарня which I assume is a bread bakery. What construct would one use when referring to a bread store, or a combination bread store and baking establishment? One option for a store is хлебный магазин. Would булочная хлеба also be an appropriate construct?
Please feel free to either answer me directly or in a post on your blog (or both). Thank you in advance for your help.
Best Regards, Mark
Don responds: Hi, Mark. I don't normally have time to respond to people who aren't my current students, but you're in luck: I can take the time today. My understanding is that пекарня is a place that actually bakes bread products. Булочная is a store that sells булки/булочки “rolls.” Most places that sell rolls also sell regular bread. A булочная does not necessarily bake its own products. As to булочная хлеба,I can't imagine anyone saying that phrase.
I just wanted to let you know I think your site is very useful. Keep up the good work! :)
А теперь вопрос. Дон, скажите, пожалуйста, как долго Вы жили в России (я почти уверен, что Вы там жили)? Или спрошу совсем напрямик: Вы - русский?! :-) Не может нерусский человек знать русский язык и культуру НАСТОЛЬКО хорошо! :-)
Don responds: Здравствуйте, уважаемый г-н Никифоров!
Спасибо большое за добрые слова. Я посещал Россию семь раз, но там никогда не жил больше двух месяцев. Я родился в Тусоне, штат Аризона, и, увы, в нашей семье нет ни одной капли русской крови. Блог получается у меня неплохо, потому что перечитываю каждую статью, поправляю очевидные ошибки. Когда в чём-нибудь сомневаюсь, прошу уточнения у друзей. Конечно в устной речи мои грамматические грехи высказываются намного виднее.
Всего наилучшего, Дон.
I had never expected to find such a great site about Russian in English.
I think you should consider a more personalised theme for the site - the blue/white theme is the default theme, I think - your site is too good for that.
Greetings from Sweden.
P.S. If you have any questions about russian language, I'll be glad to discuss it with you personally. So mail me :)
I love how you add a cultural component to the explanations + declensions.
I just wanted to let you know, that I LOVE your website. You put a lot of time, effort and knowledge into what you have created here, and it shows. It is by far one of the most useful and reasonable tools online for intermediate speakers looking to improve their Russian...like me. Спасибо большое!!!!
Прочитал несколько записей и поражен качеством материала. Не нашёл ни одной ошибки в примерах на русском языке. Действительно удивительно, как автор, не будучи русским, даёт себе труд разбираться во всех хитросплетениях нашего непростого языка.
Кстати, вы не поверите, но я использую ваш блог для изучения английского :-)
Don responds: Спасибо за добрые слова! Правду сказать, я в большом долгу перед нашими читателями, которые сразу же показывают на наши ошибки и опечатки. Без них мои языковые грехи были бы намного виднее.
Вот бы найти что нибудь похожее для изучения английского!!
Русский - мой родной язык, но мне безумно интересно читать все материалы. Вы вкладываете душу в то, что Вы делаете, а это очень приятно! От всего сердца желаю Вам успехов в Вашем нелегком труде!
Если не секрет, как давно Вы изучаете русский?
Don responds: Спасибо за добрые слова! Я занялся русским тридцать лет назад, в последнем году средней школы в маленьком городе в западном Колорадо. Одна преподавательница немецкого языка, Ruth Warner, каждый год препдагала курс русского, если только находилось определённое количество желающих учеников. В том году нам повезло, нас было, по-моему, человек восемь. Она вела урок во время своего ежедневного подготовительного часа, то есть, за это ей не платили, она это делала просто по душе. Перед такими людьми мы все в большом долгу.
I have been studing english with my ipod for last six month. But I always have been speaking only with myself (((
If somebody likes to speak russian, if somebody wants to study russian language - we could help each other.
You can reach me by e-mail:
iiidemian[AT]gmail.com also you can find me in skype area.
Вот уже почти пару месяцев каждый день читаю Ваш блог и был в полной уверенности что Вы русский :) пока не прочитал guestbook. Я, наоборот, самостоятельно изучаю английский и мне очень интересно увидеть родные русские слова с другой стороны :)
Keep going on. Thanks.
Благодарствую и низко бью челом.
Don responds: Thanks for the kind words! I have studied eleven languages, but really I only speak Russian, English, and some Spanish. Over the next few months I expect to study Pashto. That should be quite interesting because I have never studied a language that uses Arabic script, and grammatically it should be a challenge because the language has split ergativity, which strikes me as an entirely freakish grammatical occurence.
It is a mini-masterpiece of design and content and I learn something useful from it every day.
With best wishes from a very slow Russian learner:)
У вас очень интересный блог. Я сама русская, и ваш блог помогает мне в изучении аглийского языка. Спасибо, что взяли на себя труд донести информацию о русском (и английском) разговорных языках в столь легкой и доступной форме.
И удачи Вам.
Спасибо за то, что делаете нас с ним ближе.
Он пошёл не по той улице.
Takes a little getting used to-might make an interesting article?
Don responds: Good idea. I'll put one together on that topic sometime over the next month.
Don responds: That is a very complex set of topics. For an introduction to the тоже-также distinction see “Golosa: a basic course in Russia,” fourth edition, by Richard Robin et al., pp. 123-124. «То же» means “the same thing.” «Так же» means “the same way.”
do you take suggestions for word of the day? I'm a 'наукник' if I can make such a neologism. Could you do медь and ртуть? In western european languages, the word for copper is usually derived from the word Cyprus. медь ?? It looks like ртуть comes from retort, the apparatus used to distill mercury.
I'll put those on my list of words to write about. The blog is usually written several weeks in advance, so it may take some time before they appear.
All the best, Don.
You put things in such easy-to-understand language and words. Could you possible do a post on aspects or incorporate it into a blog post?
You should start doing vocabulary posts too!
Thank you for your kind words. Alas, the organizing principle of the blog isn't really adaptable to dealing with aspect, but I'll offer you a couple beginner's thoughts.
As you have noticed, aspect is fairly complex. I have found it helpful to try to examine it from two points of view simultaneously: from an abstract level and from a pragmatic (rule-of-thumb) level. Take a look at these three web pages:
Overview of aspect
Rules of thumb for aspect
Aspect — two approaches
As you think about verbs in particular sentences, see if you can make sense of each verb from both points of view. Sometimes that will work. You'll notice circumstances where either the abstract level or the pragmatic works better for you. That's normal.
The trickiest part is the third point of the abstract approach. As your exposure to written and spoken Russia increases, bit by bit the "relevant result" part will make more sense to you.
All the best, D. E. Livingston.
PS. I cannot take credit for the formulation of the abstract approach. That comes from “Russian Stage One: Live From Russia: Volume 1.”
Recently someone called my attention to your excellent site. I appreciate your clear explanations and sense of humor. Thanks for doing this!
Question: Have you addressed the difference between принимать and брать in an earlier post? Just wondering.
Don responds: Thanks for the kind words! So far we have only addressed брать/взять on one occasion. I'll put принимать/принять on the list of words to address in the future. In the meantime think of the former as “to take” and the latter as meaning “to accept.” That may resolve your issues. Both verbs have multiple meanings, though. Let me know if there is any particular combination of words that perplexes you.
I'm a mexican student. Russian is one of muy favorite things to study and I recently discoverd this blog, which now I love. Thank you so much for doing it.
On the other hand, I think this page (http://memotutor.com) may be interesting for those who are learning any language, even for those who are always wanting to learn and memorize something.
Hope you like it, and thanks again for this incredible blog.
I made a short stab at an article -I don't know if will interest you but I found the subject fascinating especially the relation to Western languages. Feel free to convert it, if you wish.
The russian word for a horse is ло́шадь. But make a comparison with other slavonic languages and it seems to be a markedly different word from all the others. Polish has koń , Ukranian has кінь. In fact Russian does have another regular masculine soft-stem конь,but this seems poetic (do russians ever say it?) and used as the word for a knight in chess.
So how did ло́шадь come to replace the ancient Slavonic form? It seems to come for a Turkic word. I suspect it came about in much the same way as the german word Pferd and the French cheval were used denote a nag, a working horse as opposed to a fighting horse.
Presumably Russian etymologists have worked this one out (My Russian is not good enough to research it!)
Don responds: Hi, Gremin,
Thanks for your note and your stab at a blog entry. I usually try to include some bilingual sample sentences in a blog entry, so if you would like to add some sentences, that would be great. If you don't have time to do that, then I'll try to put лошадь on the list of words to blog about.
BTW, I'm currently in Kazan, Tatarstan. The Tatars here tell me that лошадь was borrowed from Tatar, which is a Turkic language. I haven't been able to confirm that yet, but I'll check with Fasmer's etymological dictionary (now available online) to see what he says.
All the best, Don.
My own comments for you in brackets. Thanks for your great blog!
С помощью вашего чудесного сайта я ещё лучше буду знать английский язык!
Огромное спасибо!!!(Велике спасибі!(укр.)) :-)
Don responds: Thanks for the kind words!
I just wanted to say that your site is absolutely fantastic. It is a great learning tool that is also a lot of fun and which provides a lot of accurate insight into Russian life. I have taken a lot of the info off your site and loaded into my learning tool (anymemo) on my android phone so I can practice all the time.
The site seems perfectly aimed at my level of Russian. I have been studying seriously now for 1.5 years. I lived in Novosibirsk for 6 months 2 years ago on business and I fell in love with Russia immediately, even though I didn't know one word of Russian. My wife is Russian and I go camping with Russians almost every weekend. So, I get a chance to speak a lot of Russian here in Minnesota. I like taking words off your site and then immediately using them with her or when camping. It always brings a smile because the Russians know that I learned something culturally correct that I likely couldn't have just gotten out of a dictionary or textbook.
Otherwise, really a brilliant blog!
Don responds: That's a great topic for a beginning Russian blog. I'll address it most likely the last week of December in three different posts.
i figure if i keep reading your pages, perhaps one day i might be able to do it also, unassisted.
anyhow, please keep up these pages, they really are very helpful , at least to me, to bettr understanding russian.
thanks again. (college of charleston)
Don responds: John, thanks for you kind words. Learning to make smooth translations from one language to another is primarily a matter of a) study, and b) experience. It takes a bit of time especially to figure out which words are significant content, which words are ignorable content, and which words you need to supply that add minor content but do not distort the intent of the original. It is both science and art. The fact that you are even interested in such an issue at your earlier stage of study speaks well of you. Warmest wishes, DL.
Don responds: Good idea. I've added the link to the sidebar.
I was inspired by the blog and started my own Russian blog called Russian Vocabulary Lists.
I link the words in my lists to this site if you have covered them! RWOTD offers a great way to put words in perspective.
Check my link if you are interested in reading my Russian Vocabulary Lists blog:)
Don responds: providing Russian vocabulary lists is a valuable service. Happy blogging!
An idea for another topic (if you haven't done it already):
The many Russian words for "stop"
Thanks for the helpful site! My students use it a lot!
My name is Yulia Amlinskaya, I am a Russian language teacher at the Spanish Embassy in Moscow (Russia).
I would like to invite everybody to my Russian Language Web Page which contains a great variety of grammar, vocabulary and communication exercises, podcasts, reading materials, Russian songs with exercises, etc. You can also find a lot of information on Russian literature, history, traditions, etc.
The blog was officially recognized as One of The Best Language Teaching Blogs 2010.
The blog is based on interactive exercises, which can be done online.
It could be interesting and useful for all Russian learners and people interested in Russian language and culture. It is completely free.
I would be glad to cooperate with you and receive your questions or suggestions about the blog.
Don responds: Edgar, my apologies, but I am going to disappoint you. I had to make an editorial decision about stress marks when I first started the blog, and cross-browser and cross-OS considerations led to the choice of indicating stress, generally, only in the conjugation and declension tables. I'll spare you the painful details of that decision process, but the same considerations still apply. Regrets, Don.
My linguistic credibility hinges on the answer...
Don responds: Fasmer states it comes from German ‘salvette,’ which makes sense to me, and that the Germans took it from Italian ‘salvietta.’ I usually believe Fasmer.
Хочу сделать небольшое признание, или, если хотите открою вам небольшую тайну. Большинство русских испытывают проблемы со склонением существительных. Иногда очень трудно поставить существительное во множественное число (например слово "дно"), иногда неправильно склоняют существительные по падежам (например слово "вымя"). Очень часто склоняют несклоняемые существительные (например слова "кофе" и "пальто").
Ваше желание изучить русские склонения весьма похвально. Я думаю вы с удовольствием будете исправлять ошибки в речи русскоговорящих.
С уважением ваш Роман.
A long silence!
[ преподаватель русского из Англии. Занимаюсь разработкой материалов для начальной стадии обучения русскому Пытаюсь "повенчать" методику преподавания русского и новые компьютерные технологии.
Хотела бы знать мнение коллег, перспективен ли такой союз :-) Спасибо.
Don responds: I really liked the visual aspect of your site. Best wishes on its success!
I'm Tatiana (short russian name is Tanya)) I've accidentally found your blog and i wonder that so many non-Russian people learn Russian! Really! Your blog is useful for me too, because i try to learn English and here i can read and translate English texts about Russia)) It's so interesting what foreigners think of Russia and how they (you) seem it to them-selfs.
If you want i can comment your entries in Russian than others can improve theirs Russian. But in fact i just improve me English thanks to this blog. Thank you a lot!
Don responds: Tatiana, thanks for your note. Your comments are always welcome on the blog.
Спасибо большой for such a great resource! In part it has inspired me to try my hand at creating my own Russian learning web site, Koshka Matryoshka.
Don responds: Very neat! I wish your site the best of success. DL.
While searching for sites to assist me in prepping for official Russian exams, I ran across your site - otleechno! Although being able to simply translate the language is important, the cultural aspect introduced here goes much further into an often neglected aspect. Thank you very much!!
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