November 7th, 2008 — posted by Olga

Квас is a very popular Russian drink. It is a mildly fermented alcoholic beverage made from rye bread or berries and yeast. Because this drink has very low alcohol content (1%), it is considered acceptable for children to drink. It is often flavored with fruits фрукты and herbs травы such as strawberries клубника and mint мята. This drink can be bought at the store or made at home. As a child, I loved drinking квас and my mother was a professional at making this drink.

I remember an unfortunate day when I tried to help my mom make квас. I wanted my mom to see that I could be a very good helper so I decided to prove this. I came up to my mom and asked her «Mама, можно я помогу тебе сделать квас?» “Mama, can I help you make квас?” My mother smiled at me and said «Конечно, моя дорогая!» “Of course, my dear!” I tried to show my mom that I was a big girl and could handle carrying one of the large jars of liquid to the table. While my mother left the kitchen, I quickly tried to move the heavy jar and to my surprise, the jar slipped out of my hands and fell to the floor. I was shocked and scared so I ran to my mother in a panic and as I ran, I saw her frantically run towards me! She said, «Что случилось?» “What happened?” In a panicked voice I answered «Я хотела передвинуть банку с квасом, но она упала и разбилась!» “I wanted to move the jar of квас, but it fell and shattered!”. My mom was upset with me for the rest of that day, but from then on I understood that I should not take on tasks that I can not handle.

Конфеты (часть первая)

November 6th, 2008 — posted by Olga

The Russian word for candy is конфеты. Russians love to serve candy with tea when guests come over, and many candies are wrapped in very beautiful wrappers that make the table cheerful. A common ingredient in Russian candy is chocolate шоколад and waffles вафли, but of course a wide range of other candy ingredients also exists in Russia.

Each year here in the States my little sister enjoys collecting candy on Halloween and tries to break the record each year by collecting more candy than last year. «В этом году я насобираю больше конфет, чем в прошлом году!» “This year I will collect more candy than last year!” I enjoy walking around with her and looking at all the decorated houses. This year after we came home, my sister counted all of her candy and said «Класс! В этом году я насобирала тысячу двести три конфеты!» “Cool! This year I collected one thousand two hundred and three pieces of candy.”

Don's additional notes: the singular of конфеты is конфета “a piece of candy.” One type of candy in Russia is called ириска, which is a caramel that resembles one of the mini Tootsie Rolls one hands out at Halloween. Which reminds me of a joke:

В магазин входит старушка и просит одну ириску. An old woman walks into a store and asks for one caramel.
Продавец: Только одну? Почему так мало? Salesman: Just one? Why so few?
Старушка: Ну, гулять так гулять. Дайте две ириски! Old woman: What the heck, may as well party hardy. Give me two caramels!

(Source of joke: "Russian Stage Two: Welcome Back!" (textbook) © 2001 by American Council of Teachers of Russian)


November 5th, 2008 — posted by Olga

The Russian word for ship is корабль. When I was a little girl, I always wanted to take a ride on a ship because I loved the ocean. My dream finally came true when my uncle rented a ship and we went sailing in the Black Sea. My mom surprised me when she said «На следующей неделе мы все поедем кататься на корабле!» “Next week all of us will go for a ride on а ship!” All week I worked hard on packing my bags though we were only going for one day. I brought everything with me even though my mom constantly told me «Оля, ты слишком много берешь вещей» “Olga, you are bringing too many things.”

Next week, we woke up early in the morning to get ready for the exciting day. I remember that it was very windy that day and my excitement grew even more because I knew there would be big waves. Once we were sailing on the ship, I pulled out my chair and sat down with a blanket and a cup of tea. With the cool breeze running through my hair, I said «Сегодня море очень красивое, потому что волны большие» “Today the ocean is very beautiful because the waves are big.” As I sat, I thought I noticed a dolphin and I jumped out of my seat and yelled «Смотрите! Я вижу дельфина!» “Look! I see a dolphin.” It turned out that what I thought was a dolphin was actually just a large fish. I was disappointed, but I still had a relaxing time while I watched the beautiful waves.


November 4th, 2008 — posted by Olga

The Russian word for doll is кукла, as in «Куклы лежат на кровати» “The dolls are lying on the bed.” Many small Russian girls enjoy collecting dolls and placing them out on their beds as decorations. Both I and my sister had a collection of dolls that we enjoyed playing with while we lived in Russia. Each year on our birthday my parents bought a new doll for us. «У меня было восемь кукол, а у моей сестры было двенадцать» “I had eight dolls and my sister had twelve.” Of course once we received our new dolls, we took them with us to the park and showed them off to all the other children. At the park I always thought that my doll was the most beautiful of all so I said «Моя кукла красивей твоей!» “My doll is prettier than yours!” The other girls tried to prove the same.

I remember meeting a very mean girl at the park. When I began arguing with her about whose doll was prettier, she yanked my doll out of my hands and tore its head off. I was so upset that I grabbed her by the hair and started fighting with her while screaming «Дура! Ты убила мою куклу!» “Stupid! You killed my doll!” My mom ran over to us and yelled «Перeстаньте драться!» “Stop fighting!” as she tried to pull us apart from each other. I went home and cried all day because my new birthday dolly was broken. Luckily my parents were able to repair it and the next day, they came to me and said «Сюрприз! Мы отремонтировали твою куклу!» “Surprise! We fixed your doll!”

Don's additional notes: красивей is an alternative form for the more common красивее.


November 3rd, 2008 — posted by Don

The Russian word for Hawaii is Гавайи, and when you decline it, it has only plural endings, no singular:


Those are the forms to use if you are discussing the Big Island itself. If you are talking about the whole state or the whole chain of islands, then it's best to call them Гавайские острова The Hawaiian Islands. (Notice that in Russian we capitalize the first word but not the second.)

Because we are dealing with an island, we use the prepositions на and с to mean to/at and from:

Мы с Зоей полетим на Гавайи на медовый месяц. У моего друга там есть домик. Так можно отдыхать почти бесплатно. Нельзя ведь начинать новую жизнь с излишних расходов! Zoya and I will go to Hawaii for our honeymoon. My friend has a little house there. That way we can vacation practically for free. After all, you shouldn't start your new life with excessive expenses!
С Гавайев вернёмся в Финикс, где я её уже устроил на работу на завод, на котором делают пристяжные ремни для самолётных сидений. From Hawaii we will return to Phoenix, where I have already found her a job at a factory that makes airplane seatbelts.

The ending -йи is not typical for a Russian noun in the nominative, so the Russians are still slightly unsure of how to deal with it. Some people and references treat Гавайи as an indeclinable noun, but the current advice of style guides is to decline it.