by Timur  

In Hollywood movies, it seems as if all Russian men wear a distinct, funny-looking winter fur hat with two goofy earflaps tied together at the top. If this doesn’t ring a bell, just watch one of the older James Bond films, Rocky IV, Armageddon or The Hunt for Red October. Popularized by Hollywood and made into a stereotype image of the Russian man, this hat is a highly demanded souvenir that almost every other tourist brings back. But aside from the stereotype of these hats, what does a Russian actually wear in winter? For better or for worse (probably for better), it so happens that a lot of Russian men do indeed wear this exceptional headpiece. The winters get a bit cold and the thick fur will keep you warm, especially if you tie the earflaps around your chin.

Шапка-ушанка can be translated as ear-flap hat. The word шапка is translated as hat, while the word ушанка doesn’t really have a real translation. It is used to identify the earflaps and derives from the noun уши, which means ears. In the West, people sometimes simply refer to the hat as ushanka. An ushanka can get a bit pricy if it’s made out of sable or mink, so fox tends to be the choice for those with a thinner wallet.

I’ve mostly stuck with beanies, but I do have to admit that the ushanka is one of the better inventions to come out of the Motherland, and I do own one. It was created in the cold and for the cold. Nowadays, you can occasionally spot Russian ushankas on random, crazy-looking snowborders racing down the steep slopes of the Rockies.

Photo of Arnold wearing an ushanka
Image from movieactors.com

The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wearing an ushanka in the film Red Heat.

Another example of the Hollywood stereotype of a Russian. Here we have the drunk cosmonaut Lev Andropov in an ear-flap hat from the film Armageddon.

Here are some example senternces:

Я люблю свою ушанку, потому что мне в ней тепло зимой. I like my ear-flap hat because it keeps me warm in the winter.
В армии и на флоте солдаты и моряки носят эмблемy красной звезды на своих ушанкax. Soldiers and sailors in the army and the navy wear the red star emblem on their ear-flap hats.
Cолдаты и милиционеры носят ушанки в зимнее время. Soldiers and police officers wear ear-flap hats in the wintertime.
Mой дед купил новою шапку-ушанку, потому что его старую съела моль. My grandfather bought a new ear-flap hat because his old one was eaten by moths.


Comment from: Mirko Filipovic [Visitor]

I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to undertand. Unlike additional blogs I have read which are really not tht good. I also found your entries very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he ejoyed it as well!

09/29/10 @ 10:33
Comment from: Eugene Azarenko [Visitor]

You really do know Russian language! Great blog with interesting posts!

Шапка-ушанка. I agree with Yuri that no one in Russia (except soldiers and some freaks) wears ushanka. Of course, there are a lot of modern-style models of ushanka, which can be found in Russian shops, but actually not many people buy them…

12/02/09 @ 23:39
Comment from: ShutteR77 [Visitor]  

Nice blog about Russian language. I am from Russia and it’s really interesting to read how foreigners imagine my country.
My name is Yuri (like Yuri Gagarin, who was the first cosmonaut).
What about шапка-ушанка. If it interesting for you this word become from long long years ago and shapka was invented by workers who lived in St. Peterburg and came home very late (and in the night as you know it is very cold and frosty in Russia).
And, how you right noticed, it’s a modern stereotype in Hollywood that Russian men wear shapka. Now in Russia all men (and of course women) wear normal hats.
Thanks for interesting post and best regards, Yuri.

12/02/09 @ 03:59

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