Linguistics expert Michele Berdy, writing in the Moscow Times:
Порву!: I’ll rip it, beat you up, and win
Unless you’ve been out of the country or under a rock, you’ve probably seen the new “Hot Chicks for Putin” video. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. A Hot Chick strolls on 10-centimeter heels down a Moscow River embankment to meet up with her Hot Chick friends. As they chat seductively on their cell phones, you get a chance to finally understand an untranslatable Russian word. The camera lingers on close-ups of pneumatic breasts bursting out of tight tops … with chaste gold crosses dangling above them. That, my friends, is пошлость (vulgarity, falsity, cheapness).
Linguistics expert Michele Berdy, writing in the Moscow Times, exposes the hilarious ignorance of Russians attempting to translate from English. Russians are often outraged by statements made in English that they don’t begin to understand.
It’s late Saturday afternoon, and having finally accepted that spring has been canceled this year, the downcast expat trudges to the local shopping mall. Loaded down with booze and bags of high-calorie food (why not, if you’re never going to take off your parka?), you (downcast expat) trudge to the video store. You stand in front of racks of DVDs, conveniently — for the non-native speaker of Russian — divided into genres like комедия (comedy), мелодрама (melodrama) and триллер (thriller).
Russia-watchers are no doubt aware of the recent arrest of my good friend Lev Ponomarev. Lev is one of the leading lights of the Russianhuman rights movement, part of the original perestroika-era generation of human rights advocates whose courageous efforts ensured that democratic reforms were an integral part of the changes that followed the collapse of communism. These reforms have been steadily and vigorously eroded over the past decade under Vladimir Putin. Several days ago, for example, Lev was arrested in Moscow on Flag Day – while walking with a Russian flag. The irony is all the greater because Russia’s Flag Day commemorates the day in 1991 when the tricolor was raised for the first time over the Supreme Soviet building after the failed August Putsch, a time when Lev was a deputy to the Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR and a key figure in the fledgling democracy movement.
I spoke with Lev by phone after his release, and here is what he had to say:
Paul Goble reports that, in contrast to the poll data we discuss in our led editorial, the Kremlin’s own polls show nobody wants to leave Russia. But Goble thinks he knows one reason why at least some Russians want to stay: They know they’d be required to obey the law if they lived in a civilized country.
In addition to all the normal constraints – inertia, language knowledge, and uncertainty about other places – Russians today choose not to leave their country for work abroad because they consider it “abnormal to live according to the letter and spirit of the law” as Western countries require, according to VTsIOM director Valery Fedorov.
Speaking to a Novosibirsk forum “Strategy 2020″, Fedorov, the general director of the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, said that Russians at the present time “rarely consider emigration abroad as a key to the resolution of their personal problems.”
According to his organization’s data, the VTsIOM pollster said, far fewer Russians are interested in moving abroad than “20, 15 or even 10 years ago.” Even those who are having problems “where they were born and grew up,” he continued, have many reasons for deciding against such a step.
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