September 25th, 2013 — posted by Janell

Кисть in Russian is brush. It declines as such:

Fix this for end stress in the last four plurals.


У меня кисти из Японии. I have paintbrushes from Japan.
Мы говорили о кистях. We talked about paintbrushes.
У неё нет кистей, потому что она бедная. She does not have any paintbrushes, because she is poor.
Она красила кистью. She painted with a paintbrush.

It can refer to a cosmetic brush, a brush to paint a room or in this instance I am referring to it as an artist brush. Brushes come in all shapes and sizes. Brushes with smaller or less bristles are usually used for detail and small areas such as details on a car or eye while the larger ones are for larger areas such as backgrounds. A round brush allows you to paint fine points while a flat one is more versatile and can be used for broad strokes and thin ones. A fan brush is usually used for blending colors. Other forms of paint brushes include mop brush and sword/striper brush. There are different brushes for different mediums; watercolor brushes are different than acrylic brushes. Thicker brushes hold more paint and are better for wet painting such as water coloring, while the thinner brushes are better for dry painting because they hold less paint. The article which I found useful on paintbrushes is: http://painting.about.com/od/artsupplies/ig/Intro-to-Art-Paint-Brushes/. It also gives advice on cleaning, the ways to preserve your brushes, etc.


September 23rd, 2013 — posted by Don

The verb ‘to help’ in Russian is помогать/помочь:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive помогать помочь
Past помогал
Present помогаю
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду помогать
будешь помогать
будет помогать
будем помогать
будете помогать
будут помогать
Imperative помогай(те) помоги(те)

The person you help goes in the dative case:

— Мама, не поможешь мне с домашней работой?
— Хорошо, душенька, помогу.
“Mama, can you help me with my homework?”
“Okay, sweetie, I will.”
— Витя, помоги брату перетащить шкаф в другую спальню.
— Ладно, папа, помогу.
“Vitya, help your brother move the wardrobe into the other bedroom.”
“Okay, Dad, I will.”
Бабшука раньше помогала Елене деньгами. Grandma used to help Elena out with money.
Не помогай Игорю. Он должен сделать уроки сам. Don't help Igor. He is supposed to do his homework himself.
— Кто помог тебе собрать шкаф?
— Никто. Я собрала сама.
“Who helped you put together the wardrobe?”
“No one. I assembled it all by myself.”


September 18th, 2013 — posted by Janell

Душа is the Russian word for soul. This is how it declines:


У меня есть душа. I have a soul.

Very often Russians will use the word душа where Americans would use the word ‘heart.’

Он красил с душой. He painted with heart.
Я благодарю вас от всей души. I thank you with all my heart.

The phrase «по душе» means ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasing.’

Эта книга была мне не по душе. I didn't care for the book.

What is a soul exactly? A soul is the non-physical essence of a person. Across the globe the meaning and existence of the soul varies. For the Christians the soul is the spiritual side of a person that must be saved by Christ in order to go to heaven. The Egyptians believed that a person had three souls, each of which went separate ways after the person died. Many believe that the soul can be contacted through the help of mediums or other spiritual forms of contact. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusalka and the book Russian Folk Belief By Linda J. Ivanits there is a creature called the Rusalka it is the Russian version of a mermaid. It is believed that when a young woman dies of violent circumstances or commits suicide their soul turns into one of these creatures. Around the soul are terms and phrases: soul mate, window to the soul, lover of the soul, soul music, to sell one’s soul to the devil, etc., that show the soul affects many aspects of life even if the major folklore around the soul has become irrelevant. One must be careful that they do not confuse the word душа the word for soul with the word душ the word for shower!


September 16th, 2013 — posted by Don

Russian has a word кот which means a male cat, in other words what we in English would call a tomcat. It's an end-stressed word, which means it always has the stress on the first syllable of the grammatical ending, if there is one, and on the last syllable of the word if there is not a grammatical ending:


Here are a few sample sentences:

Под окном дрались два кота. Two tomcats were fighting under the window.
Ты видишь того кота? Я вчера видел, как он прогнал двух немецких овчарок. Do you see that tomcat? Yesterday I saw him chase off two German Shepherds.
Господи, наш кот опять нассал на кухне. Надо его кастрировать.* Good Lord, our cat has pissed in the kitchen again. We should neuter him.
Кот подкрался к мыши и прыгнул на неё. The cat snuck up on the mouse and pounced on him.

The Russians have a phrase that means “very little” which is related to cats, and that is «кот наплакал», literally “the tomcat cried.” For instance,

— Сколько у тебя денег?
— Кот наплакал.
“How much money do you have left?”
“Next to none.”
— Сколько осталось водки?
— Кот наплакал.
“How much vodka is left?”
“Scarcely a drop.”

* Warning: don't use the word нассать in polite company. It's pretty crude.

Кошка, часть 2-ая

September 9th, 2013 — posted by Don

The generic Russian word for cat is кошка. It declines like this.


In the US we summon cats with "here, kitty-kitty-kitty." In Russia you summon a cat by saying «кис-кис». In the summer I was at Raifa Monastery and experimented. Sure enough, the cats did *not* respond to the American version, but they immediately responded to the Russian version.

— Ты любишь кошек?
— Люблю.
“Do you like cats?”
“I do.”
Кис-кис! Ах, какая ты ласковая! Хочу привезти тебя домой, но мама просто не разрешает. Here, kitty-kityy! Oh, you are so sweet! I want to take you home, but Mama won't let me.
Нашу кошку всегда мучит соседская собака. The neighbors’ dog is always tormenting our cat.
— Где Даша?
— Она во дворе играет с кошками.
“Where is Dasha?”
“She's in the courtyard playing with the cats”

Last summer one of my students was recovering from a laparoscopic procedure in Kazan's Hospital #18. He was horrified to see a cat wandering through the ward. I mentioned that to my friend Flyura, and she just laughed and said,

В каждой русской больницe есть кошки. Они вообще такие ласковые, что прямо подходят и залазят тебе в сумку. Every Russian hospital has cats, and they are usually so friendly that they'll just come right up and crawl into your purse.