A Love Letter to a Russian Girl

 

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Quite often, I receive requests from English-speakers for assistance in translating or editing their personal letters, addressed to Russian women, in order to make sure that nothing of what they say would sound inappropriate or clumsy to their charming Russian readers. This post, however, may be interesting to a wider audience than learners of the romantic Russian language. You are welcome to look through the “sample” love letter in Russian and its English translation, just to train you Russian!

This is a sample set of sentences to compliment a Russian woman and to share with her about your feelings. Certainly, there may be thousands of other ways to express whart you feel, but these are just a few examples in Russian and in EngLish. If you are a learner of Russian and would like to know more about how to write your letter or to translate / pronounce some phrases, you ae welcome to contact me and ask for explanations.

Привет, Солнышко! Hello, (my) Sun! (dear / love / darling),
Я давно хотел рассказать тебе о своих чувствах, но долго не мог решиться на это. It has been a long time since I wanted to tell you about my feelings, but I could not dare to do this.
Поэтому я решил выразить свои чувства в письме. So, I decided to express my feelings in a letter.
С тех пор, как я первый раз увидел тебя, в моем сердце загорелась маленькая искорка. Since the day we met for the first time, a little sparkle lit up in my heart.
С каждым днем она росла и становилась все ярче. It kept growing bigger and brighter day after day.
Я понял, что мои искренние чувства к тебе переросли в нечто большее. I realized that my sincere appreciation for you was turning into something bigger.
Я полюбил тебя всем сердцем и теперь я не могу представить себе жизнь без тебя. I fell in love with you with all my heart, and now, I cannot imagine my life without you.
Ты подарила мне все необходимое, что нужно для счастливой жизни. You have given me all I needed to feel completely happy.
Ты для меня – идеальная девушка. You are a perfect woman (girl) for me.
В тебе нет недостатков, ты само совершенство. You have no flaws, you are a perfection.
Я поражаюсь твоей красоте и изысканности. I admire your beauty and grace.
Я горжусь тем, что самая красивая девушка в мире стала моей. I am proud to have the most beautiful woman in the world.
В твоих глазах столько нежности и искренности. Your eyes are so tender and so sincere.
Ты даришь мне тепло, которого мне так не хватало до тебя. You give me the warmth, which I was missing so much before I met you.
Я не перестаю удивляться твоей очаровательной улыбке, которая заставляет меня забыть обо всех проблемах и разочарованиях. I can’t stop admiring your charming smile, which makes me forget about all problems and disappointments.
Мне хочется улыбаться вместе с тобой, я хочу всегда держать тебя за руку. I want to smile together with you and – always – I want to hold your hand.
Но самое главное, что я ценю в тебе, это твой внутренний мир. But most of all, I admire your inner world.
Ты такая добрая и чувственная, ты всегда понимаешь меня с полуслова. You are so kind and sensible, you always understand me perfectly.
Мне нравится говорить с тобой, мне нравится молчать с тобой, я обожаю просто смотреть на тебя. I like talking to you, I like to walk in silence with you, I love to simply look at you.
В твоих движениях скрывается столько открытости и таинственности одновременно, что хочется любоваться тобой вечно. Your movements hide so much openness and mystery at the same time, that I want to watch and admire you forever.
За все это я и люблю тебя, люблю искренне и открыто. For all this I love you, I love you sincerely and openly.
Благодаря тебе я познал любовь и обрел счастье. Thanks to you, I got to know love and found my happiness.
Мне хочется кричать об этом всем и тихо шептать тебе это на ушко. I want to cry about all this to everyone, and I want to whisper these words into your ear.
Я люблю тебя больше жизни и буду любить всегда. I love you more than my life and will love you forever.

Three beautiful girls sitting in cafe

Russian Loanwords in English

Recently, a few friends-writers from social networks asked me to share about the traces of Russian culture in the English language. I think this information might also be interesting to other people, not only linguists and writers.

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Since very old times, the people, who inhabited vast territories of the present-day Russia, were known to have strong connections with other parts of the world. I am talking mainly about the ancient Kiev State and Great Novgorod. The exchange happened on different levels – in politics, trade, technology of the time, culture, and, of course, on the level of language. One of the first Russian words which came into the English language was ‘tapor-x’, which united a Russian and a Norwegian words; the word was found in handwritten manuscripts of 1031. Another English word, to talk, has the same root base with the Russian noun толк [tolk] (verb: толковать).

The words with common roots have been found in both, English and Russian languages since medieval times: sable (соболь), the old English meodu (м`д) and the more recent mead, meaning honey; the old English meolk (молоко), or milk; the old English ploz (плуг), meaning plough.

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The pre-revolutionary Russia brought the following words into the English speaking world: мужик (muzhik), изба (izba), шуба (shuba), квас (kvass), морс (morse), щи (shchi), борщ (borshch), мед (mead), калач (calach), кисель (kissel), водка (vodka), наливка (nalivka), блины (bliny), телега (telega), печь (peach), махорка (makhorka), молитва (molitva), обедня (obednia), хоровод (khorovod), указ (ukase), опричнина (opritchnina), староста (starosta), боярин (boyar), царь (tsar), артель (artel), дача (dacha), самовар (samovar), тройка (troika), дрожки (droshky), погром (pogrom), степь (steppe), тундра (tundra), тайга (taiga), суслик (suslik), борзая (borzoi).

The 70-year period of the Soviet Union state gave birth to a whole bunch of new words, which acquired completely new meanings in the given environment: apparatchik (аппаратчик, an office worker), gulag (гулаг) Soviet-time prison/camp in Siberia. The decay of the Soviet Union enriched the English language with such words as: glasnost (гласность) and perestroika (перестройка).

The words sputnik (спутника) and cosmonaut (космонавт) also came into English through Russian.

Russian tourists and immigrants have contributed the words, associated with the Russian cuisine: blini (блины), borshch (борщ), koulibiaca (кулебяка), kasha (каша), smetana (сметана), kvass (квас), pirogi (пироги), shashlik /shishkobab/ (шашлык), vodka (водка), zakuska (закуска).

Russian suffix -ник (-nik) has become quite popular in English recently, you can find it in words kapustnik (The Daily Express), flopnik (Daily Herald), pufnik (Daily Mail), stayputnik (News Chronicle) (Эпштейн М. 2003).

Today, no English speaker is surprised to hear Russian words рубль (rouble) and копейка (kopek), (interestingly, the word rouble came into English through French), балалайка (balalaika) – Russian musical instrument; казачок (kazachok) – Ukrainian and Russian popular dance; борзая (borzoi) – a Russian dog kind; белуга (a fish) and белуха (a whale) have the same name in English: beluga; the Engish babushka – is a woman wearing a cloth over her head, tied under her chin; and of coure, Russian степь (steppe), тайгa (taiga) and тундрa (tundra), and many others.

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The rest of this article may be interesting to experts in Russian culture or to writers, whose work is devoted to the Russian culture:

1. The names, related to the state organs of power and ranks of the seate service people: czar (tzar ) ‘царь ’, voivodeвоеовда ’, knesкнязь ’, bojarбоярин ’, moujikмужик ’, cossackказак ’, opritchinaопритчина ’, strelscyстрелец ’, starostaстароста, ukaseуказ, kremlinкремль ’, sotniaсотня ’, Raskolnikраскольник ’.

2. Different measurements: verstверста, arshinаршин, poodпуд, sageneсажень ’, roubleрубль, copeckкопейка, chervonetsчервонец ’.

3. Names of items of clothes, foods or household items: shubaшуба ’,kvassквас, morseморс ’,koumissкумыс ’, shchiщи, borshchборщ ’,meadмед, calashкалач ’, shashlikшашлык ’, kisselкисель ’, vodkaводка, starkaстарка, nalivkaналивка, nastoikaнастойка, blinyблины, oladyiоладьи, okroshkaокрошка ’, troikaтройка, izbaизба, telegaтелега, peach‘печь, balalaikaбалалайка ’, bayanбаян ’, samovar самовар ’, tarantassтарантас ’, droshkiдрожки ’, kibitkaкибитка ’, makhorkaмахорка ’.

4. Natural characteristics and animals: steppeстепь, tundraтундра ’, taiga ‘тайга’, poliniaполыня ’, suslikсуслик ’,borzoiборзая ’.

5. Religious words: molitvaмолитва ’, obednjaобедня’ and a few names associated with unique Rusian culture: kokoshnikкокошник ’, khorovodхоровод ’, samovarсамовар’,obrokоброк ’,zolotnikзолотник ’, otrezokотрезок, vedroведро, matrioshkaматрешка ’.

There are many more words, of course, but those listed here are the most “recognizeable” by the English speakers.

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Speak It! или: О пользе и вреде… говорения

(an article in Russian for learners of English)

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“Говорение” – это термин, который придумали педагоги и лингвисты, чтобы дать название процессу построения высказываний учащимися на иностранном языке. Говорение – это не только диалог между несколькими людьми, но и любая попытка составить осмысленное высказывание. По сути это тренировка навыков соединения слов в предложения, причём так, чтобы ваши высказывания были понятны носителям языка.

Каждый, кто когда-либо занимался иностранным языком, знает, что преподаватели уделяют особое внимание говорению, нередко заставляя учащегося рассказывать о себе, например, по-английски, уже на самом первом занятии. Многие удивляются: “Как я могу что-нибудь рассказать, когда я ещё не научился читать и писать? Я же наделаю миллион ошибок и сам же их запомню! Не лучше ли начать с грамматики, упражнений и чтения текстов?

Нет, не лучше. Классическим “дедовским” подходом вы только затянете обучение на долгие месяцы или годы, а некоторые рискуют не научиться говорить вообще никогда (спросите своих мам и бабушек, которые десятилетиями занимались английским “просто для себя”, да так и не научились разговаривать). Дело в том, что процесс говорения начинается в нашем мозгу. Всякий раз, когда вы пытаетесь построить осмысленную фразу, ваш мозг укрепляет определённый навык построения высказывания. Некоторые навыки приходят легко, потому что в родном языке у нас есть эквивалентные “формулы” построения высказываний:

Я люблю музыку” – “I love music”

“Он принимает это лекарство три раза в день” – “He takes this medicine three times a day”

Позаботься обо мне, а я позабочусь о тебе” – “Take care of me, and I will take care of you

Опытные преподаватели обычно знают, как организовать обучение, чтобы вы без труда усвоили определённый набор таких “простых” высказываний и почувствовали относительную свободу в построении предложений. Но в каждом языке есть множество уникальных способов соединения слов, которые не имеют эквивалентов в нашем языке. Вот тут обычно начинаются трудности, и только те, кто, встретив новую языковую структуру, пытаются построить с ней свои собственные фразы, быстро достигают успеха и начинают говорить.

Посмотрите на эти фразы, в них общий смысл передан верно, но перевод на английский язык сделан не буквально:

“Американские женщины обычно ведут себя очень независимо” – “American women are used to being very independent” (to be used to doing something)

“Он не прервал эксперимента даже в условиях ограниченного финансирования” “He pursued the research, regardless of the problems with funding” (to pursue something; regardless of…; problems with…)

“Не шумите. Вы мне мешаете” – “Do be quiet. You are breaking my concentration.” (to be quiet; to break someone’s concentration)

Именно тогда (и только тогда), когда вы пытаетесь самостоятельно переложить русскую фразу на английский средствами английского языка (а не русского!), ваш мозг укрепляет новый навык и создаёт в памяти “запись” о новой языковой формуле вроде тех, что вы прочитали в примерах. Поэтому обыкновенного чтения текстов и даже выполнения упражнений с использованием таких формул – недостаточно. Без практического применения в живом говорении они неизбежно забудутся.

Что же делать, если вы изучаете язык самостоятельно и вам не с кем разговаривать по-английски? Ответ прост: заниматься самостоятельным говорением (и конечно, неутомимо искать возможности общаться с другими). Рассказывайте себе самые разнообразные истории, пересказывайте телепрограммы и прочитанные статьи, старайтесь описывать всё, что видите вокруг себя, и делайте это регулярно! Не беда, если вы делаете ошибки и не замечаете их. Когда вы начнёте общаться по-настоящему, с носителями языка, эти ошибки сами собою пройдут, если вы будете слышать вокруг себя грамотную речь. Главное то, что вы будете говорить, а значит ваш мозг будет всё больше приспосабливаться к специфике иностранного языка.

Говорите! Это полезно. А те, кто считает, что это вредно, могут молчать, если им так хочется! 🙂

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The Russian Language Survival Guide

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This one-page guide to basic Russian phrases will help you on your trip to the Russian-speaking cities.

Russian Language Survival Guide

English Russian Pronunciation
Good day/hello. Добрый день. Dobry den’
Hi/hello. Привет. Privet
Good evening. Добрый вечер. Dobry vechir
Goodbye. / Goodnight. До свиданья. Da svidan’a
See you. До встречи. Da fstrechi
Yes. Да. Da
No. Нет. Net
You’re welcome. Пожалуйста. Pzhalsta
Thank you. Спасибо. Spasiba
How much? Сколько? Skol’ka
I don’t understand. Не понимаю. Ni panimaju
Cheers! На здоровье! Na zdarovie
Can I have the bill/check? Счёт, (пожалуйста). Schot (pzhalsta)
Beer пиво piva
Water вода vada
Wine / vodka Вино / водка Vino / votka
May I? Можно? Mozhna?
Good. Хорошо. Harasho.
Excellent! Отлично! Atlichna.
Bad. Плохо. Ploha.
So-so. Так себе. Tak sibe.
Excuse me. Простите. Prastiti.
I don’t speak Russian. Не говорю по-русски. Ni gavaru pa ruski.
I’d like to… Я бы хотел… Ja by hatel
buy купить kupit’
I need your help, please. Помогите, (пожалуйста). Pamagiti (pzhalsta)
Where is…? Где…? Kde
Please,… Извините,… Izviniti
I don’t know. Не знаю. Ni znaju
Sorry. Извините. Izviniti

 

 

A Few Facts About the English Language in Russian

 

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Несколько интересных фактов об английском языке, собранных с разных сайтов в Интернет. 

1. Английское слово «alphabet» происходит от названия первых двух букв греческого алфавита «alpha» и «beta».

2. В предложении «The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog» можно встретить каждую букву алфавита.

3. «I am» и «I do» — самые короткие предложения в английском языке с подлежащим и сказуемым.

4. В старые времена на протяжении определённого времени амперсэнд (символ “&”, в английском языке означающий союз “и”) был буквой английского алфавита.

5. Самые распространенные буквы в английском языке – это R, S, T, L, N, E. Реже всего используется буква Q.

6. Точка над буквой «i» в английском языке называется tittle (малейшая частица/капелька).

7. Самым длинным словом в английском языке, согласно Оксфордскому английскому словарю, является слово pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (обозначает болезнь легких, в слове 45 букв).

8. Самые длинные односложные слова в английском языке – это “screeched” (визгливо крикнуть) and “strengths” (сильные стороны).

9. «Almost» (почти) – самое длинное слово английского языка, в котором все буквы расположены в алфавитном порядке.

10. В английском языке есть слово с одной и той же гласной, которая повторяется 5 раз – «indivisibility» (единство, невозможность отделить).

11. “Four” (четыре) – единственное числительное в английском языке, количество букв которого соответствует обозначаемому числу.

12. Слово “set” (в значениях существительного и глагола) имеет больше значений, чем любое другое слово в английском языке.

13. Слова «racecar» (гоночная машина), «kayak» (каяк/байдарка) и «level» (уровень) являются полиндромами, то есть одинаково пишутся и читаются справа налево и слева направо.

14. Единственное слово в английском языке состоящее из 15 букв в котором буквы не повторяются “uncopyrightable” (не охраняемый авторским правом).

15. Ни одно слово в английском языке не рифмуется со словами «month», «orange», «silver» и «purple».

16. Буквосочетание “ough” в английском языке может читаться девятью различными способами. Следующее предложение содержит их все: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”

17. Самое функциональное слово в английском языке – это «shit». (О способах его использования подробно можно прочитать здесь http://www.funfacts.com.au/the-most-functional-word-in-the-english-language/ )

18. В английском языке больше всего слов (около 800 000) и самые богатые синонимические ряды. Американский президент Бенджамин Франклин собрал более 200 синонимов слова «пьяный» (англ. drunk), включая такие «шедевры» как «cherry-merry», «nimptopsical» и «soaked».

19. Самая сложная скороговорка в английском языке – это “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”.

20. Согласно закону штата Иллиной (Illinois), в штате запрещено говорить по-английски – официальным языком здесь принято считать американский.

21. «God be with ye»- полная версия слова «goodbye».

22. Древнейшее слово в английском языке – town (городишко), означает, как правило, городок с населением не более 5 тысяч человек

23. Со словами month, orange, silver, purple, английские поэты не могут найти рифму.

24. В одной верхней строке клавиатуры можно набрать английское слово «typewriter».

25. Когда-то слово «pants» считалось ругательным в Англии, теперь его используют на каждом шагу.

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Russians Hate Relationship Coaching

I just ran across a Facebook post, which attracted my attention. A young woman wrote on her timeline: “An author of a book about harmony in family life shot his wife and published photos of the body on the Internet; Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” died in loneliness; Benjamin Spock, the author of numerous books about bringing up kids, was nearly put in a nursing home by his own sons, and a Korean bestselling author of “How to Be Happy” hanged herself of depression. In fact, this is all I know about the personal growth trainings.”

Kind of sad, isn’t it? Well, the fact is: Russians don’t like psychologists. There is no tradition of visiting counselors and advisers, like many Westerners use to do. Family issues are considered very personal, and so, they can only be trusted – if ever at all – to a closest friend. Reading books about relationships is not a traditional thing, either. Some people – mainly women – would read a book once in a while and discuss it with friends, but still, majority of the Russians make relationship decisions mainly based on intuition and on previously acquired personal experiences.

In my practice as a relationship coach, I have seen numerous couples of a Russian woman and a foreign man. The men would frequently love talking to a coach, while Russian women tend to close up and refuse from any contact with psychologists at all. So, coaching for couples is practically impossible in Russia, which makes the western men even more curious about listening to an expert in mysterious Russian character.

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What Makes Learning Russian so Hard for the English-Speakers?

When asked this question, native English-speakers usually provide similar answers: the main difficulties are (in an approximate order of lowest to highest difficulty, and this is not a full list): learning Cyrillic, pronunciation, case for nouns / adjectives, verbal affixes / aspect, intonation, and word order.

Many language learners believe that, if they know a certain number of words, they will be able to communicate the language they are studying, and this may be true for some languages, but not in the case of the Russian language, where words change a lot due to numerous suffixes, endings, and prefixes, which are not only difficult to remember, but, what’s more, they may change the meanings of words dramatically. Learning words and their meanings is not enough in Russian. You’ve got to know a lo about various language structures and grammar rules, if you want to understand and speak Russian.

Those who have just started studying Russian say that learning Russian pronunciation is quite challenging, but in fact, it comes to you with practice. A more difficult thing, probably, is having to remember cases for nouns / adjectives and verbal affixes / aspect.

English has a large number of phrasal verbs which can have wildly differing meanings. In fact, Russian phraseology is very developed, too, and using it may be quite a task to a beginner, when all Russians use lots of phraseology and idioms in daily communication, which makes understanding Russian quite difficult for beginners.

Really many things in the Russian language are left to the learner’s memory. Russian suffixes, for example, may have predictable meanings, which tend to be “technical”, for lack of a better word, while prefixes are more abstract and polysemic—as are the English particles. For example, Rusian words распустить, выпуск, запуск, запущенный have the same root, by the way, but very different spelling and pronunciation, to say nothing about the meanings.

While English phrasal verbs like give up, go on, take off, take after— let you make educated guesses at what they mean, especially if you encounter one of them in context, a learner of Russian cannot reliably deduce the meanings of words by only knowing the meaning of a root or of the parts they are built of.

Also, many English-speakers find Russian language structure lacking logic; they believe that there are too many exceptions to each rule to even be able to call them rules at all. Other learners complain that Russian free word order makes it even more difficult to speak, because while putting words at random places in the sentence, you never know what logical accent your final phrase will acquire.

Here are a few interesting notes which I picked up at Russian learner’ forums;  these comments give you a great picture of their troubles while trying to master Russian:

Comment 1: “It is certainly the vocabulary that is giving me the most trouble, although I seem to have reached a point where words are beginning to be related to each other and I recognize the root and so can guess the meaning, and anticipate the form. The grammar, apart from becoming accustomed to the verbs, does not seem difficult…”

Comment 2: “DO NOT try to learn Russian by roots, prefixes, and suffixes. My SMALL experience with Russian prefixes and suffixes is that they do NOT modify in a logical manner.”

Comment 3: “Basically, you could learn 3 other languages as easily as you can learn Russian. And then there is the grammar.”

And now, for the last comment, on the most optimistic note, to wrap up the discussion for today. Enjoy!

Comment 4:  “If you put solid effort into learning Russian and maintain motivation and dedication, you will become conversationally fluent sooner than you expect! Once you get a foot-hold into the language, you will be learning and retaining more and more, easier and easier. It’s like learning a new word in your native language – it isn’t hard at all to remember it because you can subconsciously find the roots and words similar to it, and you hear it around you so you’re exposed to the word and “revising” it. Just take it slow and understand everything handed to you and you will be on the road to fluency in no time! Good luck :)”

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How to Use ESL Tests for Self-Study

О пользе тестов по английскому языку для самостоятельного обучения (статья на английском языке)

Everyone who studies a foreign language has to take tests at one point or another. Though it is probably one of the students’ least favorite things to do, testing  and self-testing is a very efficient way to study a language. There are hundreds of testing systems for ESL students, they are supposed to test different types of knowledge and require different test taking skills. Today, I will focus on a the most popular types of tests that ESL teachers use in their classrooms.

If you take a test and do it in your personal study time, the test may turn into a very efficient learning tool: it is an exercie, which you can do without having to be nervous about the final results or think about time. If you do a test at home, paying attention to every detail and using the answer keys to self-check your results. it is no longer a test, but a very good exercise and a great way to memorize structures of the Engish language. Among the most popular (and beneficial) test practices, I would pick out the following:

  1. Completion tests. This type of tests require you to complete a sentence: fill in the blank tests, cloze testsfree answer tests.
  2. Matching tests, which ask you to pair items in one column with those in another.
  3. True/false tests, which are, in fact, alternative response tests.
  4. Multiple choice tests, where you are supposed to select and check out one answer among a few options (usually 3 0r 4).
  5. Essay tests, where you write an essay and thus, you can be creative with the language you know, and express your ideas freely. These tests are less common in the ESL classrooms since they require a larger base of general knowledge than simpler test forms.
  6. Oral testing. This kind of testing is particularly important because spoken language is the ultimate goal in any language program. Oral tests focus on your ability to communicate with what you know. Since spoken language is creative and flexible, it gives you a way to build your own, unique style of speaking, and to acquire fluency in communication. Certainly, speaking to yourself during your self-study time does not guarantee you against making mistakes, but still it is the most effective methos of learning, so you’ve got to use it as frequently as you can.

dog-with-homework

Russian School Diaries: Sweet Memories to Keep

In Russia, Ukraine, and everywhere about the former USSR, every student of primary and secondary school must have a so-called diary (дневник [dnevnik]) – a printed notebook, where the student is supposed to make daily entries of their tasks for homework, and teachers usually leave short notes for parents and put down the student’s grades whenever he or she made an oral presentation in class or got a test grade in the class register. Dnevnik is a so-to-say form of communication between teachers and parents via the kid’s book of daily notes.

dnevnik2

The school year extends from September 1 to end of May and is divided into four terms with a week-long vacation periods between them. The programme of study in schools is fixed, it amazes me how stable it has been over the years: the program which my mother had at her maths class in the 1950-es at the age of 12 is practically identical to what my daughter studied at her age of 12 in 2003. Neither can schoolchildren choose the subjects they want to study. The class load per student is 638 hours a year for nine-year-olds, 893 for thirteen-year-olds, plus there are official hours of additional classwork within the program. The students are supposed to write with pens of blue color, while teachers always use red. You can see the student’s notes in blue in the “dnevnik” below, and the teacher’s entries in red: the grades, the teacher’s signatures, and sometimes short notes for the parents asking to pay attention at their kid’s behavior or attention in the classroom.

dnevnik1

Students are graded on a 5-step scale, ranging in practice from 2 (“unacceptable”) to 5 (“excellent”); 1 is a rarely used sign of extreme failure. Teachers regularly subdivide these grades (i.e. 4+, 5-) in daily use, but term and year results are graded strictly 2, 3, 4 or 5.

The teachers’ entries into “dnevnik” have always caused excitement in our minds, and the mother’s or father’s voice, saying: “Show me your dnevnik!” remains in everyone’s memory till the end of our lives!

High school kids are usually bored by school, and those wh want to show that they don’t give a damn to the school rules, can do this to their “dnevniks” sometimes:

dnevnik3

But the most memorable are the humorous moments, when teachers, being driven to madness by kids, leave very funny notes in dnevniks. In Russia and Ukraine, we even have websites, where people contribute photos or scans of their kid’s dnevnik pages with very funny teachers’ notes. This page, for example, has a few entries about a boy’s bad behavior:

  1. “Нарисовал половой орган на доске!” – “He drew a penis on the black board!”
  2. Кричал “Ленин жив!” – “He cried out “Lenin’s alive!”, and in the bottom part of the page:
  3. “Продавал одноклассника в рабство” – “Tried selling his classmate to slavery.”

Looks like quite an action-packed day for a school boy, doesn’t it?

dnevnik4

Age Stereotypes in Russian Society

The FSU (Former Soviet Union) countries, though very diverse and even hostile to each other today, still bear amazingly many commonalities in lifestyles, social behavior, and mentality. One of the common traits of the former Soviet people is the tendency to stick to the old stereotypes, which were developed by previous generations and still remain unbreakable today. The age and gender stereotypes seem to be the strongest of all. Millions of the former Soviets continue to observe the rules of age-appropriate behavior in treating friends and relatives, working relations, household traditions, fashion, etiquette, general manners, and speech. Age discrimination at work is still quite common, and gender differences are not only accepted, but welcomed by both sexes.

russian_stereotype

A very sad and, unfortunately, prevalent sign of life in all post-Soviet republics is the attitude to the older generation. People over 65 are literally thrown out of life. Very few of them take part in any social activities, their only occupation is taking care of grandchildren and doing household chores, while their children work and pursue careers. It is typical for people of this age to spend years in and around their homes; very few of them can afford to ravel, and statistically less than 1% of elderly people ever go to movie theaters, eat out, or attend any entertainment events.

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There are several explanations to this fact, such as declining health and decreased income (average monthly pension in Russia in 2016 is $200, and about $150 in Ukraine), but beyond that is the old, sticky stereotype: “Everyone else lives like this, so why wouldn’t I live this life, too?” Among average population, it is considered inappropriate for an elderly person to attended rock concerts, ride a motorbike or do a lot of sports. So, the majority does “the appropriate” stuff like spending time with grandchildren, taking care of home, jam making, knitting, or watching TV. This stereotype sits deep in people’s minds, depriving them of the fun and leisure which they deserved during the long life of hard work.

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Another area in which age stereotypes are mostly subconscious, yet strong is the way people tend to dress and look. Only certain clothes are considered appropriate for each age group. When you are in your 40s, 50s, or older, wearing make up, short skirts and shorts and youthful hairstyles may cause misunderstanding of others, so an older person will rather refuse from wearing them than risk it, because average citizens of the former Soviet world still care what other members of the society think about them.

Middle aged people have hard time finding jobs. Though any discrimination against applicants is prohibited by law, people who reached the age of 40 or even 35 are of little interest to employers. If the age requirements are not listed, the candidates over that age still have slim chances to get a job. The main reason for this is incompetence of HR managers (who are usually very young people) and lack of research that would show that companies miss out when they discriminate candidates and employees by age. Employees over 40 are experienced, mature and it is likely that they don’t have as many personal distractions as the younger workers do.

ru_semya

Younger adults, especially students and recent graduates, have their own stereotypes within their age group. Though these stereotypes are erasing little by little, but still the idea of getting married before you hit 25 (mostly among women, though it is not disregarded by men, either) is commonly accepted. Many young people, even the well-educated graduates of good universities, have difficulties finding their first jobs. This also happens largely due to a common stereotype of seeing university graduates as very inexperienced people – almost children – who are not ready to enter the working relationships. As jobs are difficult to find, the large percent of young people never have any experience of working until they graduate from universities (usually at the age of 22-23). Overwhelming majority of young people enter universities right after finishing high schools, and there, during the whole time of study they depend completely on their parents, who support them financially under the only condition that they should study hard and obtain the higher education diploma.

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live mines and duds: the reading life

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librocubicularist | nonfiction | moonlights as the host of Silent Book Club Kota Kinabalu | writes on Scrivener