by Don  

The Russian word for mercury, the element, is ртуть, which is a feminine third-declension noun. The word mostly occurs in the singular:

Image from Wikipedia


The place most of us used to encounter mercury was in thermometers:

В медицинском термометре объём ртути увеличивается и уменьшается при изменении температуры окружающей среды. (adapted from source) In a medical thermometer the volume of mercury increases and decreases as the temperature of the surrounding environment changes.

Nowadays mercury thermometers are being replaced by digital thermometers that have no mercury, so we mostly encounter the word in high school chemistry classes in the periodic table of the elements. Its symbol is Hg, which is taken from the Latin word Hydrargyrum, which is based on the Greek roots ὑδρ- ‘water’ and ἀργυρ- ‘silver’:

Ртуть — элемент шестого периода периодической системы химических элементов Д. И. Менделеева, с атомным номером 80. (adapted from source) Mercury is an element of the sixth period of Mendeleev's periodic table of the elements; its atomic number is eighty.

I remember allowing a small quantity of mercury to roll around in my hand as a kid. Despite how beautiful it was, that really wasn't a good idea:

Пары ртути, а также металлическая ртуть очень ядовиты, могут вызвать тяжёлое отравление. (adapted from source) Mercury vapors and metallic mercury are very toxic and can cause serious poisoning.

By the way, if you are in the mood to explore the elements in Russian, there is a marvelous interactive periodic table of the elements available at chem.50webs.com


Comment from: marc [Visitor]

Great post. One typo:

“it’s atomic number is eighty.”

should be

“its atomic number is eighty.”

Don responds: Thanks! Fixed!

05/10/10 @ 06:49
Comment from: Muireann [Visitor]

I found your periodic table link so entertaining I tried to re-post it on my Facebook page. However, Facebook blocked the link, stating ‘Some of the content in this link has been reported as abusive by Facebook users’. The Periodic Table of the Elements is abusive?

Don responds: Good heavens. I wonder what the issue was? My antivirus software doesn’t seem to object to it. It still strikes me as a wonderful site.

05/07/10 @ 02:02
Comment from: Andrey [Visitor]

Объем can’t повышаться or понижаться, it can only увеличиваться or уменьшаться. If you want to use повышаться/понижаться, you should use уровень, not объем.

Don responds: Согласен. Текст поправлен.

05/06/10 @ 10:50

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