Peter and His Peruke or A Slavic стричь

It’s common knowledge that Peter the First (sometimes known as “the Great,” though whether he was great is still up for debate) introduced a beard tax (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beard_tax). In short, he did everything he could to get those hairy Russians looking more “civilized.”  But beards are not really today’s subject (If you recall, I have a…

Does Your Insurance Policy Cover Fear?

Recently we talked about reflexive verbs, and we saw that бояться (to be afraid) is in this category. I submit that this verb also, similar to жаловаться, is about an internal action; after all, I could assume that we know the seemingly immortal phrase, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”; not saying that…

Uh is for educaishUhn

Some of the most basic and yet most important advice I give people who are studying Russian (especially at the beginning, though one should always keep this in mind) is to listen carefully to how something is pronounced and imitate. When someone begins studying Russian (and most textbooks are set up in this way), they…

Yes, I’m Complaining about You!

Or, to translate the Russian way of saying this in a certain more literal sense: “I’m complaining in/to myself on you (Я жалуюсь на тебя).” Жаловаться is “to complain,” and it is what is referred to as a reflexive verb. We will get into further categories below but a basic definition of a reflexive verb…

The Knower of Huney

Today, I'm going to talk about another Russian stereotype: bears. Just like you’ve always been told, bears run wild (and are led on leashes) through every Russian town, village, city, and metropolis. And bears, as everyone knows, like honey (just remember Winnie-the-Pooh). The Russian word for bear, медведь, particularly draws on this connection. This word…

For What Are You Asking?

I don’t know about you, but something that I’m constantly asking my wife for is forgiveness (I don’t mean that you might be asking my wife for forgiveness, but that you might be asking your own wife for forgiveness). In Russian, when you ask for something, there are a few different conditions that regulate how…

Under the beard

Anyone who begins studying Russian might come across the word for beard (борода) fairly early on (after all, everyone knows at least two things about Russia: bears and beards* (I won't be so vulgar as to say vodka)). And it is obvious that if you want to tell your friend Egor, who is, naturally, sporting…