Král Karel

In a recent article on The Conversation, Neil Bermel, professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield, explained how some European languages will refer to King Charles III: in Czech, although he was almost always called princ Charles before ascending to the throne and occasionally král Charles is in use, he is…… Continue reading Král Karel

Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

The surname of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Михаил Горбачёв) was occasionally spelled Gorbachov in English, especially early in his leadership. It is a pity that this spelling didn’t persist. The spelling with <o> would show English speakers more clearly how to pronounce this name. Cyrillic spelling Gorbachev’s surname is spelled Горбачeв in the Russian…… Continue reading Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?

The past tense of verbs in Russian looks very odd. It marks the gender and number of the verb’s subject, but does not mark whether the subject is 1st person (I / we), 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (she / he / it / they). In this respect, the Russian past tense differs from…… Continue reading Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?

Bulgarian through Russian

Reading Bulgarian through Russian, by Charles E Gribble (1987) is a concise textbook that aims to teach people with a good knowledge of Russian to read normal contemporary literary Bulgarian. (I haven’t seen the 2nd edition, published in 2013.) An early section of Gribble’s book lists some systematic correspondences of sounds and spellings between the…… Continue reading Bulgarian through Russian

Is Russian difficult for English speakers?

I’ve sometimes heard people describe Russian as a difficult language for native English speakers. It is, indeed, a little more difficult for such learners than languages related more closely to English, such as other Germanic languages or the Romance languages. On the other hand, it is probably less difficult for them than completely unrelated languages.…… Continue reading Is Russian difficult for English speakers?

I am Goya

My translation of this poem by Andrey Voznesensky (1933-2010) was commended by the judges of the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize 2014. archive.stephen-spender.org/2014_brodsky_prize/2014_brodsky_commended_PC.htmlMy submission also included the commentary that follows. Translation I am Goya!a crow — my foe — swooped on the barren field,and gouged craters in the globes of my eyes.I am grief.I givevoice to…… Continue reading I am Goya

Mnemonics in language learning

Mnemonics can help in learning languages. Here are three I learnt at school. German: Fudgebow This mnemonic is of the 7 basic prepositions that take the accusative case: Für: forUm: aroundDurch: throughGegen: againstEntlang: along (actually a post-position, it generally follows the noun, all the others precede it) Bis: untilOhne: withoutWider: against (not to be confused…… Continue reading Mnemonics in language learning

Lake Lake on Mars

In February 2021, the Mars rover Perseverance landed at Jezoro crater on Mars. Planetary scientists think the crater once held water, presumably a lake. The crater is named after the small town of Jezoro in Bosnia. NASA Mars Mission Connects With Bosnian Town. Update September 2022. For a picture of Jezoro crater by Perseverance, please…… Continue reading Lake Lake on Mars