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Russian Language Blog

March 28, 2013

Anglophone learners of Russian should check out this blog on the site of the company Transparent Language. The contributors, yelena and Rob, write longish posts in English with lots of Russian words thrown in. (The approach reminds me of Genevra Gerhart’s books and Alina Israeli’s columns.) There’s a post on negative modals illustrated by a script from an imaginary telenovela; I’d rather they’d mined a real script, but you can see their tone of grammar through fun and whimsy. An essay on card-playing terms taught me that the verb козырять, which I knew in its meaning “to trump, play a trump card,” can also mean “salute by raising one’s right hand to the rim of [one’s] headgear” or “brag, show off.” I also learned назапиканный (“unbleeped,” of a televised obscene word), that шесть досок is a euphemism for coffin, and that an old joke is a бородатый анекдот. Predictably a disproportionate number of entries are about swear words, but even these have good information beyond what’s promised.

There’s also a lot of the handy cultural knowledge that anyone who grew up in Russia would know, but that you could read a lot of high-culture books without ever suspecting.

Another plus: they mark stress! They do it by underlining the stressed letter. For some reason the “combining acute accent” character in Unicode that’s so handy for marking stress in Word documents doesn’t seem to work in blog posts. For me, at least, it shows up but not over the letter – it doesn’t combine. Does anyone know why?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    March 28, 2013 10:34 am

    It depends very much on the font whether ‘combining acute accent’ renders correctly. I’ve found non-serif fonts tend to work better but it is a matter of trial-and-error. Segoe UI is the best I’ve found but I’m not sure if this is available on WordPress.

    It never ceases to amaze me that accented Cyrillic vowels are not encoded in Unicode despite there being thousands of very obscure characters.

  2. March 28, 2013 11:21 am

    Thank you, Alex! I’d foolishly assumed that in this day and age, the default font at a place like WordPress would be able to handle all of Unicode. I’ll see if I can find one that works.

  3. May 27, 2013 2:41 pm

    I would like to advice one useful site with real spoken Russian language podcasts – http://www.tasteofrussian.com/

    Thanks!

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