Category: "Leg"


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?

Икра, часть третья

by Don  

Okay, brace yourself, this one is freaky. In addition to meaning caviar and vegetable pâté, икра also means calf in the sense of the gastrocnemius muscle on the back of your lower legs. In that sense it is mostly used in the plural, although the singular also exists:

Sg Pl
Nom икра икры
Acc икру икры
Gen икры икр
Pre икре икрах
Dat икре икрам
Ins икрой икрами

Sample sentences:

Жутко болят икры ног при ходьбе. My calves hurt terribly when I walk.
Хождение по воде (ноги погружаются до икр) способствует закаливанию тела. (source) Wading in water (the legs are immersed up to the calves) helps strengthen the body.
Поднимайтесь на носочки. Это хорошее упражнение для укрепления мышц ступней и икр, а также для того, чтобы разогнать скопившуюся в венах кровь. (source) Stand on your tiptoes. This is a good exercise for strengthening the muscles of the feet and calves, as well as for dispersing blood that has accumulated in the veins.
Работа над икрами и предплечьями не так изнурительна, как работа с основными мышечными группами. (source) Working on the calves and forearms is not as exhausting as working with the primary muscle groups.


by Don  

The Russian word for leg is нога. Just as рука means both hand and arm in Russian, so also нога means both leg and foot. Interestingly enough, it's stress pattern is identical to that of рука:


My favorite idiom with this word is (с)делать ноги, which means to flee, run away, haul ass. Well, no, it's not as vulgar as “haul ass,” but you get the idea. Examples:

Я бы на его месте делал ноги, пока не поздно. (source) In his place I'd get out of there before it's too late.
Говорят, что каждого нового ухажёра Наоми быстро начинала звать своим "мужем", строить планы на будущее, говорить о детях… И вскоре после этого мужчина обычно делал ноги. (source) They say that Naomi [Campbell] would quickly start calling each new suitor her “husband” and start planning for the future, talking about children… And right after that the man would take to his heels.
Недавно жили две мышки домашние в клетке. Одна умерла, а вторая сделала ноги куда-то к соседям. Теперь я совсем одинокая :( . (source) Not long ago [I had] two pet mice living in a cage. One died, and the other ran off to some neighbors' house. Now I'm all alone.
Сама же Германия с конца 1944 года лишь делала ноги, панически отступая от Красной Армии. (source) Germany itself began to flee at the end of 1944, retreating before the Red Army in a panic.