Archive for the Category: Russian

Русский & français

Last Saturday at my brother’s wedding I had plenty of opportunities to use my Russian – my brother’s wife is Russian, and while she speaks very good English, few of her family speak any, so I did my best to speak with them in Russian. I was able to have some basic conversations, with help […]

Also posted in French, Language, Language learning 1 Comment

My language studies

This week I decided to start learning Russian and Breton again. I’ve learnt bits and pieces of them before but haven’t managed to get back into the habit of studying any language regularly for quite a while. I keep on making plans, and then due to inertia, laziness and procrastination don’t implement them. So I […]

Also posted in Breton, Language, Language learning 6 Comments

Best languages to study

According to an article I came across in the Daily Telegraph today, the best / most useful languages to study, for those in the UK, are: 1. German 2. French 3. Spanish 4. Mandarin 5. Polish 6. Arabic 7. Cantonese 8. Russian 9. Japanese 10. Portuguese The reasons why each language is useful vary quite […]

Also posted in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish 6 Comments


The other day I saw a play based on Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange, which was linguistically interesting. When I read the book many years ago I was able to guess the meanings of most of the Nadsat words from the context – Nadsat is the form of speech used by some characters in […]

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Cleaning up Russian

According to an article I found today, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science plans to ‘clean up’ Russian by removing foreign loanwords and replacing them with native words. They plan to revise dictionaries, school textbooks, and to set up a website to explain the changes. The website will give Russian speakers a chance to […]

Also posted in Language 6 Comments


Characters in the novels by Andrey Kurkov (Андрій Юрійович Курков) that I’ve read recently often enjoy a bowl of dish of pelmeni, which is obviously some kind of food, but is not translated. I wondered what pelmeni might be, so thought I’d find out. According to Wikipedia, pelmeni are “dumplings consisting of a filling wrapped […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 13 Comments

Tables, chairs, stools and cathedrals

The Russian word for table (the piece of furniture) is стол (/stol/) which sounds a bit like stool in English. In most other Slavic languages the words for table are simliar: стол (Belarusian), stol (Croatian), stůl (Czech), stolŭ (Old Church Slavonic = throne, seat), stół (Polish), сто (Serbian), stôl (Slovak) and стіл (Ukrainian). Although in […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European 2 Comments

Handwriting and typing Cyrillic

I finally finished learning the handwritten cursive version of the Cyrillic alphabet for Russian today – I’ve been learning it a few letters at a time, so it has taken a while. Now I can write down the Russian words and phrases I’m learning more easily – writing the printed versions of the letters seems […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning 5 Comments


Книга /’kniga/ is a Russian word for book, and also appears in other Slavic languages: кніга in Belarusian, книга in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Ukrainian, knjiga in Croatian and Slovenian, kniha in Czech, knéga in Kashubian, kъńiga (book, character, writing) in Old Church Slavonic, książka in Polish, and књига in Serbian. It apparently comes from the […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 7 Comments


In the Celtic languages when you want to say that you have/own/possess something, you say that the thing is at/by/with you, often with the prepositions merging with the pronouns. For example, this is how to say ‘I have a book’ in those languages: – Irish: Tá leabhar agam [lit. “is book at-me] – Scottish Gaelic: […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic 25 Comments