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Warning: This is a very long post and the winner is announced at the very end of it.
«Время подводить итоги конкурса» [It’s time to wrap up our contest].
Before I announce «победитель» [the winner], I got to say this – Russian blog readers ROCK! The total of 83 comments is a new record for this blog. But as I wrote before, this is one of the situations when «качество» [quality] means more than «количество» [quantity].
«Огромное спасибо» [Huge thanks] to Rob, Minority, and Delia for fielding the questions and offering help with grammar, translation and additional research. Richard, thank you for your most interesting questions, especially about the word «пошлость» [vulgarity or kitsch].
Overall, the comments confirm my belief that this is a blog where comments oftentimes provide more valuable information on the topic than the posts themselves.
One of the contributors, Stephanie, added a wonderful saying «повторение – мать учения» [repetition is the mother of learning]. It is a very popular one, so let’s roll with it. I’d like to quickly review some of the entries and add my own «три копейки» [two cents-worth; lit. three kopeks] to them.
JT’s entry: «Всё идёт по плану» [All is going according to the plan]
«План» in Russian usually means “plan”, “draft”, or “plot”. It can also mean a “topographic map”. Curiously, it also means «анаша» [hashish].
Mark’s entry: «Говорят, что кур доят» [Don’t believe everything you hear; lit. Some say chickens can be milked]
One of «самые вкусные» [tastiest] of Russian candies are called «Птичье молоко» [lit. Birds’ Milk]. You can usually find them in the Russian stores in the US, although they lose much of their “melt-in-your-mouth softness” after the lengthy transport and storage.
Richard’s entry: «Я не я, и лошадь не моя» [I didn’t do it! Lit: I’m not myself and the horse isn’t mine]
This one made me smile as I haven’t heard it much after moving to the US! There’s a particular word that comes to mind when I hear this phrase – «отнекиваться». Typically translated as “to say no” or “to disavow” it loses some of its linguistic charisma, just like another wonderful word – «поддакивать» [to say yes].
Alison’s entry: «любовь – не картошка» [love is not a potato]
Ok, this sounds cryptic, but there’s a second part of the saying: «любовь – не картошка, не выкинешь в окошко» [love is not a potato; it can’t be thrown out of the window]. So true! After all, «любовь зла, полюбишь и козла» [love is cruel]. Another weird love and gardening saying is «прошла любовь, завяли помидоры» [love ended, tomatoes wilted].
Delia’s entry: «подложить свинью» [to play a dirty trick or to cause a major inconvenience; lit. to lay a pig near someone]
If you are wondering why pigs were singled out for the purpose of lying near someone, it’s because pigs, in Russia, are usually associated with «нечистоплотность» [impurity, frequently of thoughts or intentions]. Sounds interesting? Then find out more in this post about different animals in Russian sayings.
Simon’s entry: «Нет худа без добра» [every cloud has a silver lining]
The well-known corollary of this is «нет добра без худа» [good luck brings bad luck]. One of the traits that foreigners notice in Russians is a certain measure of fatalism. Another saying that goes with it is «в каждой бочке мёда есть ложка дёгтя» [every barrel-full of honey has a spoon-full of tar].
Drew’s entry: «Кто,кто? Конь в пальто» [Who? Who? A horse in a coat!]
Thanks, Drew, for reminding me of this saying! I wish there was something as universal in English to slow the barrage of the “Knock-knock. Who’s there?” jokes. Sometimes the mythical «дед Пихто» [Grandfather Pikhto] is substituted for the proverbial horse. There’s much speculation as to who this Grandfather Pikhto is, but some say that he’s a spirit of the «тайга» [boreal forests] which are abundant with «пихты» [fir trees]. As to the horse in a coat, it’s popular enough that there’s a statue of it in the town of Sochi.
Olia’s entry: «Словами сыт не будешь» [One can’t live on words alone]
Thank you, Olia, for this entry. It goes particularly well with the giveaway theme. Although matreshkas aren’t particularly nourishing either. Another good phrase along the same lines is «кормить обещаниями» [to feed with promises] and a corresponding «обещаниями сыт по горло» [fed up with promises].
Rob’s entry: «Россия – родина слонов» [Russia – the motherland of the elephants]
Rob always provides exhaustive comments, so the only thing I can add to his explanation is this link to a page on Lurkmor.ru
Kate’s entry: «успех – это успеть»
Richard asked for the best way to translate it. Let’s see… «успеть» has a meaning of “to have time” and “to make it” (as in “to be on time”):
«Последние сто метров до причала пришлось пробежать, но нам удалось успеть на паром» [We had to run the last one hundred meters, but we made it to the ferry]
So I’d translate the phrase as either “success means having enough time” or “success means making it”. As another Russian saying goes, «кто не успел, тот опоздал» [you snooze, you lose].
And finally… the big announcement of the winner. Cue in «барабанная дробь» [drum roll]… First, I filtered out the comments of those readers who graciously removed themselves from participation. Then, I the rest of the comments (51) through a random number generator…
Congratulations, Agata, on becoming the official winner of the Transparent Russian blog giveaway. You will be receiving an e-mail from Transparent shortly.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all who participated in the contest and commented on the blog post.