Categories: "Medicine"


November 20th, 2014 — posted by Janell

The word сон in Russian can be translated as ‘dream’ or ‘sleep’. It declines as such:


Я видел тебя вчера во сне. I saw you last night in my dreams.
Мне не снятся сны. I don’t have dreams.
Я летала во сне. I flew in my dream.
Он рассказал о своих снах. He talked about his dreams.

Russians are great believers in the predictive power of dreams. Almost every woman has a со́нник ‘dream interpretation book’ by her bedside so that she can consult it first thing when she wakes up. Sometimes my friend Евгений's mother dreams about cats, which she always takes as a sign that something bad is going to happen him, especially that some friend might stab him in the back, and she warns him to be careful and think twice about anything he does that day.

Dreams played a huge role in the prophecies of Ванга, a Bulgarian woman who predicted the future. She is kind of like a Slavic Nostradamus, and every Russian knows about her. You can read about her here.



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 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 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!


July 10th, 2012 — posted by Don

I'm back in Russia and I have a new language partner, Alan.¹ The first day we got together, we ended up walking 13 km around Kazan; call it 8 miles. Now mind you, I've hardly gotten any exercise at all this last year. So what happens when you have hardly walked at all and suddenly you walk mucho? You get blisters. The Russian word for blister is мозоль.


Of course you often find this word in contexts about walking.

Я вчера ходил столько, что стёр ноги до мозолей. I walked so much yesterday that I got blisters on my feet.
Я вчера ходил столько, что натёр ноги до мозолей.
В Париже моя сестра находила мозоли на ногах. My sister walked until she got blisters in Paris.

So why do these things pop up?

Мозоли образуются от сильного трения кожи. Blisters are caused by excessive friction on the skin.

I was actually embarrassed to get blisters, but it looks like I'm in good company.

После пятидневных полевых учений, в программу которых входил десятимильный забег через лес с рюкзаком и винтовкой, Принц Гарри обратился в медпункт академии для лечения мозолей на ногах. Увидев, насколько сильно натер себе ноги молодой принц, врачи решили выдать ему специальное разрешение не носить армейские ботинки до тех пор, пока не заживут мозоли. (adapted from this source) After a five days of field training that included a ten-mile run through the forest with backpack and and rifle, Prince Harry went to the academy's first-aid station to get treatment for blisters on his feet. Having seen the extent to which the prince had abraded his feet, the doctors decided to give him special permission not to wear army boots until the blisters heal.

Nowadays what is the standard advice if you get a blister?

Если мозоль созрела, не протыкайте ее (за исключением случая острой боли). Вскрыв мозоль, вы рискуете занести инфекцию. (adapted from this source) If the blister has already formed, don't lance it (except in cases of sharp pain). When you slit open a blister, you risk introducting an infection.

That's sort of the standard advice from both Russian and American sources. I consider it hogwash. Let's say you take a needle and sterilize it and the surface of your skin decently with alcohol. If you lance dead skin, your skin is not likely to be infected. When the liquid squeezes out, most likely infection isn't going to be sucked in. In any case, that's what I've done, and I promise to post here if I get infected.

One last comment. If you look up the word blister in the dictionary, you are likely to find it translated as волдырь. Dictionaries really need to give better guidance on this issue. If a blister forms from exposure to intense heat or cold or caustic chemicals or insect bites, then the Russians usually call that a волдырь. One that forms on your foot from friction is a мозоль. But a мозоль can also just be a plain old callus on your foot as well. If you need to distinguish the two in Russian, you can call a callus «кожная мозоль» and a blister «мокрая мозоль».

¹ No, that is not a Russian name, but if the singer Prince (not Prince Harry) can change his name to an unpronounceable symbol, then why can't a Russian/Tatar kid go by Alan?

Глаз (часть пятая)

February 17th, 2012 — posted by Don

I find my relationship with Luludya goes much more smoothly if I give her grandmother a certain sum of money every Friday. Last week I was a bit late with her gift. Honestly, I wasn't skipping it on purpose — I know better than to try anything like that — but I was in fact a few hours late with the payment, an honest mistake, and as I entered the harridan's room, she gave me a certain look. When I returned home, I sensed a certain rumbling in my bowels, and then I spent the next ten hours in the smallest room of the house, and I knew:

Старуха меня сглазила. The old woman had hexed me.

The phrase for ‘the evil eye’ in Russian is ‘дурной глаз’ or sometimes ‘лихой глаз’ or ‘худой глаз.’ When someone is affected by the evil eye, the Russians often use the word сглазить ‘to hex, jinx, curse’ to describe it. This verb only occurs in the perfective:

Infinitive сглазить
Past сглазил
Present No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future сглажу
Imperative сглазь(те)

You can find the verb in phrases such as:

Не обижай её, а то она сглазит. Don't offend her or she'll put the evil eye on you.
Ребёнку плохо спится. Должно быть, кто-то его сглазил. My child is sleeping poorly. Someone must have hexed him.
— У меня сегодня ничего не получается.
— Кто-то тебя сглазил.
“Nothing is working out right for me today.”
“Someone jinxed you.”

Some years ago I came across a book called “Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong” by Arthur Bloch which contained a definition that went something like this:

The Unspeakable Law: The moment you mention something, if it's bad, it happens; if it's good, it goes away.

Many Russians have an inner feeling that the second bit is true. You musn't praise or compliment someone or express good expectations, otherwise you'll jinx yourself. So if you say something good, you need some magical little phrase to counteract the potential jinx. In AmE we say "knock on wood" in that context, and Russians may ceremonially spit over their left shoulder, which is represented in written form as «тьфу, тьфу», and then they add something like «чтобы не сглазить» “so that we don't jinx overselves”:

Наш новый клиент завтра подпишет контракт, который принесёт в нашу фирму огромные деньги, тьфу, тьфу, чтобы не сглазить. Our new client is signing a contract tomorrow that will bring our company a huge amount of money, knock on wood.

Certain recent events have brought me to the conclusion that I may sometime need stronger counteragents to the evil eye. Fortunately a quick web search has revealed a most amazing website in Russia where for a mere $500 one can obtain such help. Here's a description of their remarkable wares:

В центре «Линия жизни» можно будет приобрести ТАЛИСМАНЫ и АМУЛЕТЫ, «заряженные» нашими ведущими специалистами, победителями и финалистами телепередачи «Битва экстрасенсов». Это изделия из серебра с инкрустацией, каждое – прекрасное украшение, обладающее магической силой. (source) At “Life Line” you can obtain TALISMANS and AMULETS ‘charged’ by our leading specialists, winners and finalists of the “Battle of the Psychics” TV show. These items are inlaid silver, each one a beautiful decoration with magical power.

Yes, indeed. Three or four of those and I think I won't be having problems with the evil eye anymore. I'll place my order today.