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Archive for February, 2013

Shouldn’t, oughtn’t, can’t, better not: Negative “modals” in Russian Posted by on Feb 27, 2013

Long before Hollywood pop-culture began flooding from “Pindostan” into the ex-USSR, the distinctively Latin American genre known as telenovelas (теленовеллы or телесериал) had attained cult status in Russia (particularly, but not exclusively, among women). So in this post, let’s picture a scene from an imaginary теленовелла. Our beautiful (but naive) heroine María Simplemente has just…

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Q: What’s huge, gray, and shines like a light-bulb? Posted by on Feb 20, 2013

A: An electric elephant. Or, in Russian: Что это: Огромное, серое, и светит как лампочка? — Электрический слон. The Elephant Joke genre occurs in many different languages — generally, these jokes tend to “travel well” because their humor rarely depends on untranslatable puns, or on pop-culture references that quickly go stale. And one finds them…

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Cards and Women, but Mostly Cards Posted by on Feb 15, 2013

Well, the Valentine’s Day is over and done with. But if you are following Russian calendar, you know there are two more holidays coming up that give men a perfect excuse погусарить. Гусар, гусарство, and гусарить are the words that are low on the priority list of most language learners. Which is surprising since…

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Oldies, but Goodies – Love Songs Edition Posted by on Feb 14, 2013

Yay, it’s Valentine’s Day today! Love it or make fun of it, there’s no escape from dozens of red roses, pounds of chocolate candy, piles of cheesy postcards and other holiday hoopla. Either way, let’s make the most out of the occasion and listen to some love songs that you have probably not heard before and get…

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Are There Any Good Knock-Knock Jokes in Russian? Posted by on Feb 6, 2013

Speaking of stereotypes, Russians usually view themselves as having a highly-developed чувство юмора (sense of humor). We cherish our анекдоты (jokes), however бородатые (old; lit: bearded) they might be. Indeed, Russians have an impressive catalog of joke categories, from армянское радио (Armenian radio) one-liners to elaborate шутки о том свете (afterlife jokes; lit: jokes about…

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