November 19th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Коса means ‘scythe’ or ‘braid’. It declines like so:


The word Коса has two very different meanings - 'scythe' and 'braid'. Both have a lot to do with Russian culture. The agricultural tool scythe has been used by Russian peasants centuries ago and is still used today in some villages to mow wheat, grass and anything else that needs to be mowed. When it comes to a braid, it has been known as a traditional Russian female hairstyle for just as long. Russian women would grow their hair out and braid it. The longer the braid, the prettier the hair was considered. I think that it is has been the most popular hairstyle for quite some time because of it's simplicity and practicality.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Ее коса была такой длинной, что почти касалась пола. Her braid was so long, that it almost touched the floor.
У смерти в руках была коса. Death had a scythe in its hands.
Он косил траву косой. He was mowing grass with a scythe.
У моей подруги две длинные косы. My girlfriend has two long braids.
Косари стояли с косами в руках. The mowers stood with scythes in their hands.

As far as braids go, the most famous коса in recent history was the one worn by Юлия Тимошенко, the Ukrainian politician who was at the forefront of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Here you can see her picture. She was not just a model of Slavic beauty, but a political force to be reckoned with. I strongly recommend the Wikipedia link to her biography and the discussion of the Orange Revolution.


November 18th, 2014 — posted by Janell

We all have those moments of doubt in our skills ability and positive outcome of a situation when it seems like we cannot handle it the struggles. We then have two options: to give up or to tough it out and finish the race whether we come in first or not which is also known as persevering. The noun perseverance or persistance translates into Russian as упорство. This word is declined this way:


У него совсем не было способности к языку, но он занимался с таким упорством, что наконец-то освоил язык. He had no talent for languages, but he studied with such persistence that he finally mastered the language.
Он всегда был неудачником, у него никогда не хватало упорства. He was always a loser. He simply didn't have enough persistence.
Я переняла упорство у родителей. I learned persistence from my parents .

Persistence will get you through all the struggles of life. These struggles can be academic, sports related, relationship related, mental, emotional and physical, but we all have it in us to make it through whatever we are struggling with, whether that strength is solely on our own or with the support of our friends. I had a friend who was going through some tough issues at home with her family and at school with school work and friendships, and at one point she thought about killing herself. She stuck it out and while she is still struggling with a few things, she is at peace inwardly and is making the most of her life. Persistence paid off, I am glad she stuck around.


November 17th, 2014 — posted by Janell

In a perfect family we would always say nice and positive things to each other, but sadly we do not live in a perfect world, and sometimes we have to deal with insults. The Russian word for insult is оскорбление. This word declines this way:


Это был не комплимент, это было оскорбление. That wasn't a compliment. It was an insult.
Это оскобление очень задело его. The insult really got to him.
Ей надоело терпеть постоянные оскорбления. She got sick of the constant insults.
Я прекрасно умею справляться с такими оскорблениями. Просто не реагирую. I know exactly how to deal with insults like that. I just don't react.

Nowadays we have a new way to insult each other: it is called cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is bullying over the internet or using text messages or other forms of technology. Cyber-bullying is just as effective as physical or in-person bullying because the person is constantly messaged degrading and hurtful things, such as mean texts debasing imagery etc., and they can still feel isolated and hurt. I had one friend that was doing cyber-bullying to someone she did not like at her high school and almost got expelled. People are using the internet as a buffer to anonymously bully other people and/or say demeaning or disgusting things, but our culture has adapted to the point where we think it is ok and funny so we have websites like 4chan and other blog sites. Cyber-bullying is becoming a major problem in the 21st century and we need to teach our children and younger generations as well as ourselves that just because you can be anonymous does not mean you should say something hurtful, if you would not say it in real life to someone you should not say it over the internet.

Угол, часть вторая

November 14th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Угол means ‘corner’ or ‘angle’. It declines like so:

Preоб угле
в углу
на углу

The word угол can have a different meaning, depending on the context it is used in. For example, in geometry it can be used when talking about an angle of a triangle or some other geometrical figure. It can also be used when giving directions and talking about street or building corners. However, the word Угол was used in a very unique context by a forward of Tula's soccer team "Arsenal", who said that the he received the ball «на угол головы», which means: “on the corner of his head.” Apparently some people’s heads have corners...

Don comments: For a discussion of the multiple prepositional forms, see the previous entry on угол.

Держать язык за зубами

November 13th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian phrase «держать язык за зубами» can be translated into English as 'to hold one's tongue' or 'to keep one's mouth shut'. Only the imperfective form of the verb держать is used in conveying this phrase, it conjugates like so:

Infinitive держать
Past держал
Present держу
Future буду держать
будешь держать
будет держать
будем держать
будете держать
будут держать
Imperative держи(те)

Here are some examples:

-Не говори моей жене, что я слушаю Джастина Бибера в машине!
-Я буду держать язык за зубами.
-Don't tell my wife that I listen to Justin Bieber in the car!
-I'll keep my mouth shut.
Когда она его спросила, выглядит ли она толстой, он держал язык за зубами. He kept his mouth shut when she asked him whether or not she looked fat.
Ничего не говорите! Держите язык за зубами! Don't say anything! Keep your mouth shut!
Я надеюсь, что она будет держать язык за зубами, когда милиционер спросит о её друзьях. I hope she keeps her mouth shut when the cop asks her about her friends.