Russian Language Blog

So What’s Being Given Away? Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Culture, History, Soviet Union

By the time you’ll be reading the giveaway will be over, the winner chosen and the secret revealed. But at the time of writing of this post, there are still a few hours left in the giveaway. So the only thing I can do right now is to reveal the secret prize.

I’m not exactly sure how to say “giveaway” in Russian. It’s neither a «лотерея» [lottery] nor «тотализатор» [tote board] nor «конкурс» [contest]. So I’m going to settle on «посты с бесплатной выдачей приза» [posts with giving away of a free prize]. And speaking of «этот самый приз» [this very prize], it’s about time to explain what’s being given away.

Do you believe that «книга – лучший подарок» [a book is the best gift]? I do! For a while Russians prided themselves to be «самая читающая страна в мире» [the most well-read country in the world]. But I realize that «труднопроизносимые имена, уменьшительно-ласкательные имена и прозвища» [hard to pronounce names, diminutives and nicknames], «предложения с деепричастными оборотами» [sentences with verbal adverb phrases], and, as one of the readers put it recently, “tantric suffering” of the characters might make Russian classical literature not so «читабельная» [readable] to many readers.

But the book that’s being given away is nothing of the sorts. It’s written in English and it’s «документальная литература» [a non-fiction book]. It is “Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design”. This book “celebrates the more populist and enduring work in graphic and industrial design” produced in the Soviet Union.


Years back, consumer goods «сделанные в Советском Союзе» [made in the USSR] were considered inferior to those made elsewhere. They were of poor quality and, usually, extremely unappealing. Just think of the Soviet-era underwear.  When I think of items like «колготки» [tights], «куклы» [dolls], «машины» [cars], «шкафы» [wardrobes], and many others I feel both bitter and amused.

This book reminded me of other things, the ones that were actually well-designed or at least were intended to be well-designed. Some of the designs we took for granted, such as the «авоська» bags or «треугольные молочные пакеты» [triangular milk cartons]. But all became symbolic of supposedly non-consumerist era.

So that’s the prize that is being given away in just about an hour or so.

Finally, a bit of house-keeping here – I will be randomly selecting a winner in just a little bit (by the time you’re reading this, I will already know the name). But I might not be able to post the announcement on the blog until next week. Blame it on «ураган» [hurricane] Irene. If it goes the way they are predicting, I might not have Internet connection for a few days.

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  1. Lediannaia Koroleva:

    You should write a blog mentioning some of the objects that are included in this book and upload pictures of such objects too.

  2. Delia:

    I got my book! Thank you so much! Great edition, lots of old pictures of old objects that I’ve almost forgotten about…. авоська, граненный стакан, журнал “Кругозор” и многое, многое другое. СПАСИБО!!!

    • yelena:

      @Delia Ah, I’m so glad you liked it. It got pretty good reviews on Amazon and I loved the idea. I was a bit worried about the typography and black-and-white images, but it seemed to work for this book. The article on “Krugozor” magazine sounded so awesome that I immediately wanted to find an old copy myself. Alas, they seem to be hard to find and are collectors’ items now.

  3. ahmed mahmoud abdo:

    this is not the way to teach a language,Iam an ex-lecturer,pleaase gove senteces,grammar phonetics etc,thana thanke you. by the way , please iam not seeing what iam typing to correc.Please tell the responsible people about that,iam sorry for the probable mistakes since i do not see what iam writing. what i see is mere dots.

    • yelena:

      @ahmed mahmoud abdo Ahmed, thank you for going through all the tech trouble to post a comment. I am not a language teacher and always welcome feedback from those with more knowledge and experience. If you can just let me know your ideas on what would make this blog a better learning tool, I’d really appreciate it. One thing I’m trying to stay away from is making the blog read like a textbook. There are lots of really good textbooks out there and I’d lose the competition for sure 🙂 Admittedly, I do need to include more grammar.

  4. ahmed mahmoud abdo:

    awfully sorry to have criticized teaching a language,this was not my intention,anyhow,to teach a language one should give:1.vocab.,,3.write,4.step by step grammar,5.glossary,phonetics,6.simplicity in all respects such as simple vocab,sentences,examples etc,7.I do not support using photos unless clearly indicating,thank you very much for caring and for being very patient with those like me.bye,ahmed AA

  5. yelena:

    Ahmed, thank you for a detailed feedback. Check out tomorrow’s post about sentence structure and let me know what you think of it. Sorry, can’t post a link to it since technically it’s not out yet, but will be in 6 hrs or so.