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Head for the Woods, Russians

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)


: dense, virgin forest

Ah, August. August is usually thescary month inRussia, themonth when bad things happen, themonth ofmourning, themonth when political history is remade bytanks or peat fires. But this year, things have been so scary andso awful forso long, what difference could one month make?

-- (sound ofspitting over my shoulder three times toward off bad luck).

Since scary things will happen no matter what, it is much better tospend themonth out ofthe city heat, taking long walks inthe woods.

TheRussian language is rich onthe subject offorests. Thegeneric word fora forest is , but there are plenty ofmore specific terms. Forexample, you might choose theword todescribe adense, virgin forest if you know what avirgin forest looks like, that is. Themost famous one is , where theU.S.S.R. was officially dissolved, usually simply transliterated as Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Afew trees are called (grove, copse), andthe most famous kind inRussia is (birch grove). Astand ofpine trees is called (pine grove). InMoscow themost famous one is (literally, Silver Pine Grove).

Animpenetrable part ofthe forest is called (thicket), or (deep inthe forest): , (Through my binoculars I saw him come out ofthe thicket).

Andif its areally old forest that has miraculously been untouched bycivilization, it is (primeval or old-growth forest). This is also adescription ofsomeones unknowable soul, as expressed insaying ࠗ (literally, apersons soul is adeep forest).

Folks who know their forests might refer toeither (coniferous forest) or (deciduous forest). Forexample: , , , - (I dont mean that coniferous forests are worse, but aspen forests are lovely, too, when they seem tobe lit bypale green light). is black () fora reason all those leafy trees block thelight: , (When we went intothe broad-leafed forest, thetrain car went dark.)

Andfolks who can tell one tree fromanother might be very specific, if old-fashioned, when they talk about thewoods: (oak forest); (aspen forest); (elm forest); (linden forest); (fir forest); (cedar forest); (pine forest).

Not surprisingly, theforest figures inseveral common Russian expressions. Ҹ (a dark forest) is theEnglish speakers Its Greek tome something incomprehensible.

Andwhere there are forests, there are wolves. , (literally, if youre scared ofwolves, dont go intothe woods). Inother words, if you cant stand theheat, get out ofthe kitchen. , (literally, work isnt awolf that will run away inthe woods). That is tosay: Work isnt going anywhere (so have some fun). Andfinally: , (literally, no matter how much you feed awolf, he keeps looking atthe woods). Today this is usually abbreviated to toyearn forsomething better.

Like anice, dark, cool forest ona hot day.

Michele A. Berdy, aMoscow-based translator andinterpreter, is the author ofThe Russian Words Worth (Glas), acollection ofher columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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