Category Archives: Russia

Russia related travelogues

Quanta Squalia – What Big Sharks!


Playout date: 21st March 2011 (Made August 2010)
Camera: Creative Vado
Post Production: CyberLink Power Director 8
Location: Sealife Centre, Great Yarmouth
Other people featured: Sophie
Genre: Zoo and Aquarium showcasing
Music used: Quanta Qualia by Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra Paradiso

Hayley

Languages used: Russian, Ukrainian
Animals featured: Nurse sharks, zebra shark, reef sharks, green sea turtle, Monodactylus fishes

A film showing the beauty and intelligence of aquarium sharks. The nurse sharks and zebra shark showcased here are a beautiful thing to observe at close range. These are not dangerous attackers in the main for human swimmers, as you will see that the size and form of the mouth is not similar to that of the notorious great whites, etc. Even these smaller fishes like the monos, and also the sea turtle sharing the aquarium are relatively safe from being attacked by the big sharks. The smaller sharks, the reef sharks, are ironically more risky than the big ones, but they are not really large enough to damage a turtle.

The zebra shark (Stegosoma fasciatum) has a long tail which it uses to thrash through schools of larger fishes to stun or kill by impact and then it can turn and eat what it has hit. The monos here are even too small to be impacted by that, and they fly under the zebra shark’s radar – as long as it is kept well-fed!

Enjoy the pure tones of Hayley Westenra, and my atrocious pun in the title that you need to know Italian to be able to get.

In the Eastern Forest


Playout date: 3 October 2006
Camera: Fuji Finepix
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – medium use
Location: Primorskiy Kray, Russia
Other people featured: Various Foresters
Genre: Environmental
Music used: Solovenko Ukrainian Songs
Languages used: Russian, Ukrainian
Animals featured: Not many other than the ladybirds on the video, but this is the domain of
the Siberian Tiger, black bear and snow leopard. Numerous unusual forest
plants are also seen in the gallery

It’s a long story how I came to be here, and in fact I can’t go into details at it involves work – I ended up auditing the forestry operators of a territory larger than Greater London. The climate was hard and the Mosquitos were hard. I was working for China, and they needed an English speaker who knew Due Diligence and knows Russian, and they received recommendations that I was the man for the job.

Well, it took all summer five years ago, and I still have the Mosquito bites. The gallery shots show in places the anti mosquito suit they managed to bite through. suffice it to say they are simply not in the same league as the European ones.

This is one of my earliest “gallery style” films showcasing photographs and I haven’t really got the style right, they are flashing through too quickly and they’re not fading into each other as I started doing when I got the hang of it.

But still some of the photos are not too bad though I say so myself and worth a few additional comments – the foresters were very friendly folk, we spend a great few days with people that live a very close to nature way in the forest in conditions that most of us would find wearing. These are not the kind of parks you get in Europe. They are logging and replanting in forests that are being cultivated effectively for the first time. This sort of forest in Europe exists only in any size in Bialoweza, where the bison are. The fauna here is very varied, but it’s not common to see them. When I went behind a tree to go to the toilet at one point, I saw a Siberian chipmunk,  or “burunduk” – but when I told the woodsmen about it they said that when I go off to have a leak I’d better let them know so that they can cover with a rifle, because it’s when they do what I just did that they come across other “stripey animals” but ones who are more inclined to attack us than the burunduk are!

We saw cedar nut trees and manchurian nut, and those strange grape like things that you see in the woodsman’s hand – to get them he swung out over a fifty-foot drop on a tree branch, as agile as a monkey. Also you’ll see the huge ladybirds that they had there, you can see one that landed on me – they are so pick that when they land on you it feels like someone’s flicked you with their finger.

The tipped over lorry full of logs you can see in one photo there goes to show how tough the terrain is there – they basically dig their roads out as they woork the forest.

Don’t miss also near the end the home-made fitness area they made for themselves from various machine parts. It showed their skill in making do.

A Question about the Russian Future by Shannon


IMG_2070

One viewer on the youtube channel, a lady called Shannon, wrote to me the following question:

Hello,

Could you please tell me the English equivalent for the Russian simple and compound future tense.

I think I’ve understood both past tenses, but the future tense is something I’m still struggling to get my head around.

Regards,
Shannon

The problem is that they are not really tenses, they are aspects of a single future tense.

Now in English we have aspects, but we don’t always use a verb to show the aspects, sometimes we use other words in the sentence.

Let’s take the example of “yest’/s’yest”. If I say in Russian “Ya s’yem ves’ …” then the expected word afterwards might be “tort” – I will eat the whole cake.

If a Russian says “Ya budu yest’ ves’…” then the rest of the sentence that suggests itself is “den’ ” – I will eat all day.

In this case in English if you can replace “eat” with “eat up” then you know that it’s a perfective aspect. In English it’s not incorrect to say “I will eat the whole cake”, or you can also stress the perfective nature of that action (although it won’t have a very perfecting effect on the figure) by saying “I will eat the cake up”.

Contrast that with the second sentence. “I will eat all day”. You can’t say “I will eat up all day”, it becomes meaningless. You can, of course say something like “All day long tomorrow, I’ll be eating up my fussy children’s left-overs” – in Russian this repetitive future performance of a perfective action would call for bringing in the iterative suffix. “Budu doyedyvat’ “sounds a little clumsy but would give that kind of meaning. The “yv” part of that verb being the iterative suffix.

So in the case of a sentence where in English we could use a simple verb or a phrasal verb, especially a phrasal verb where the sense involves finishing something (eat up, do in, beat up, bring in, etc) we can get a good idea of whether to use a perfective or imperfective future aspect in Russian by asking us where the phrasal verb is just as good if not better than the simple verb, as in the above “eat the cake up”

What about cases where you don’t have a phrasal verb indicating completion to hand? Well, sometimes there are aspectival pairs in English that we don’t even realise are aspectival pairs because this is almost subliminal in our language and not explicit as in Slavonic. So I could give you two sentences:

1. I will fish all day tomorrow

2. I will catch many fish tomorrow.

Which is future imperfective? That’s right, the first. Budu lovit ryby ves’ den’ zavtra. The second is perfective. Tomorrow I will not just fish I will catch many fish. Poymu mnogo ryb, zavtra.

how about this one:

1. He will speak to me about the changes this afternoon.

2. He will tell me about the changes this afternoon.

In which of these am I expressing subliminally that I’m not necessarily expecting complete information? That’s right, the first. In the second, I expect the transmission of complete facts, not just blah-blah. So speak and tell are an aspectival pair.

And sure enough, you find the same in govorit’/skazat’ in Russian. You never hear “on budet skazat” – the closest is if you make it iterative “on budet skazyvat mne raznye veshchi” He will be telling me various things. He will, in other word, repeatedly perform the perfective action of transferring orally various complete pieces of information. He will speak to me about the changes – on budet govorit’ so mnoy o peremenakh means that I’m focussing menatlly on the fact that he is going through the motions of informing me, regardless of whether any actual units of meaningful information, any ‘whole story’ is transferred to me in the process. “On skazhet mne o peremenakh posle obeda” on the other hand means that I’m expecting to hear the whole caboodle from him after lunch.

One of the best ways to understand this is by looking at what we mean in English when we differentiate “until” and “by”. Most languages have a single word for this pair, and in Slavic it’s aspect which gives away which one is needed. Russians and Poles say “do”, German’s have “bis”, but we have two words and we can’t understand why foreigners are always muddling up “until” and “by”.

So you’ll hear Slavs saying “I need you to write the report until Thursday”. At this, you might say “what happens after that, then, does someone else take over?” This sentence in English contains no markers that getting it done before then is required – on the contrary the marker in “until” rather means just keep on going up to a certain time point, and finishing doesn’t enter into it.

So Thursday comes and you are asked for the report, and you hand in a huge 100 page opus and immediately the boss asks “Where’s the Executive Summary?” And so you say “There’s no Executive Summary – how can there be one if the report isn’t finished?” “But I asked you to write the report until Thursday!” “I did! I was writing it all the time, only taking short breaks for food and sleep. That’s why the thing is 100 pages long. but you didn’t tell me it had to be done BY Thursday!”

The boss doesn’t understand this, as to him “until” and “by” are synonyms and not markers of aspect, and promptly sacks the Employee for over-correct use of English.

So you can see from this example that if he had really meant “until”, in Russian he would have used a future imperfective. “Budete pisat’ …” For the meaning “by” he would have used a Russian future perfective “Napishite”.

I hope that helps you get a grip on the idea. If it has, then that is a milestone on your journey towards knowing Russian.

Who is this mystery customer?


Countries where the Russian language is spoken.

The Russian Linguation

The following review can still be read for Derek Offord’s “Using Russian – A Guide to Contemporary Usage” on Amazon.co.uk (not the American Amazon and I really don’t understand why they don’t carry these reviews over, when I want to write for only the UK or only the US I shall forget about the internet altogether!) As it was way back in 2001 I seem to have lost the accreditation for the review along the way. At first it was under my name, but at some stage they must have had a technical blip and the older reviews became “A Customer”. but it’s mine, well enough. I don’t know if my style has changed much in ten years.

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is essential reading for those doing a Russian degree.
28 Sep 2001
By A Customer

This review is from: Using Russian: A Guide to Contemporary Usage (Paperback)

I bought Using Russian when I was browsing in a bookshop for another language, as I already speak Russian, but when I looked at a few pages it immediately appealed as an excellent update to the way the language has developed since I did my degree. Sections in the book refer to different problems that face the English speaker in particular, such as faux amis. There are also sections on homonyms and other confusing aspects and they act rather like a checklist of what you need to have got right in your head in order not to make too many ‘howlers’ in translations or in conversation.

One particular plus in this book and as I found out in the whole series of ‘Using’ books that this is part of is the focus on register. If there is one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff among language students. it is the understanding and application of the idea of register, and this applies to Russian perhaps more than most European languages, as this is a language in which not only the vocabulary, but also the syntax, grammar and phonetics are all subject to complex nuances. This book was not available when I needed it. Now that it is I urge you to make use of it. It is the book about Russian that I would have liked to have written myself. If I thought there was demand for it, I’d offer to do a sister volume for Polish.

In any event it made me go out and by the sister volumes already in existence for French, German and Spanish. They are of a similar quality to this volume, the weakest is probably the German one, the Spanish one I would put as second favorite. It can be read cover to cover, or simply dipped into as a work of reference.

It is not material for learning the language from scratch, but would be a very useful second step after completing any of the standard self-instruction books such as the Colloquial series, the Teach yourself series or the Linguaphone course.

Either A-level or degree level students of the Language will profit from it and find it enjoyable because of its good presentation and readable style.

RL101-4 The next five letters


 
 
 
 

Playout date:    23 September 2006
Location:    Home
Other people featured: None
Music used:    Akon’s Mr Lonely karaoke track, used to rap Onegin’s letter from the end of Evgeniy Onegin
Languages used:    English, Russian
Animals featured:    None

 This fourth lesson deals with 5 letters that are not in English at all but come from Greek. Here we have a difference to the previous lesson which had letters that look like English letters, but because of Greek they have a different use in Cyrillics.
 
 With 160 likes against 2 dislikes, this has to be one of the most popular videos I ever did.

Aquarium in Hotel Irbis Moscow


 
  
 
 

Video number in my collection 74
Production date:    3 September 2006
Playout date:    7 September 2006
Camera:    Fuji Finepix
Post Production:    Windows Movie Maker – slight use
Location:    Hotel Irbis, near VDNKh, Moscow
Other people featured: None
Genre: Fish
Soundtrack info:    Oy, tvetyot kalina (The snowball tree in blossom) V. Golovtsova
Languages used:    Russian 
Animals featured:    Leporinus, Notopterus, Labeo, Scatophagus, Monodactylus, Ancistrus, Puntius
Date added here: 16 October 2010
Number of days this video was up at time of posting: 1 500
Number of views at time of posting: 2 560
Number of views per day: 1,7
Number of comments at time of posting (don’t forget to click through to read the comments!): 11
Comments per thousand views: 4,3
Likes at time of posting: 4
Dislikes at time of posting: 2
Likes to dislikes ratio: 2,0
Votes per thousand views: 2,3
Ratio of comments to votes: 183%

 

 The hotel I stayed in last weekend had this fishtank in the lobby. It had many technical things wrong with it, being overstocked, underfiltered, underlit, and with many issues in the mix of fish, but quite a pleasant film came out of it, with the vocal efforts of V. Gotovtseva singing “Oh snowball tree in blossom” as a makeshift soundtrack, mixed with the sounds from the lobby bar.
 
 The Irbis Hotel in Moscow is quite well placed, and was quite cheap. I used it just for the one night after getting back from the Russian Far East. I was getting pressured to fly straight on, back to back to Warsaw to go to the baptism of my old boss’s new child, but I would have been ridiculously tired after the trip back from the far east and I wanted to go into Moscow and debrief the colleagues on the audit anyway, so this hotel was just the place.
 
 “This tank is doomed” comments quite rightly one commentator you can click through to see. It is a text book example of people buying fishes and not understanding what they are doing. Some of these fishes will become seriously large, and they will be the only ones left.
 

Scutigera -Let it not envenomate you!


 
 

Video number in my collection 72
Production date:    6 September 2006
Playout date:    20 August 2006
Camera:     Fuji Finepix
Post Production:    Windows Movie Maker – medium use
Location:    House in Lesozavodsk, Primorskiy Kraj, Siberia
Other people featured: None
Genre: Nature
Soundtrack info:    Through the Greenwood, Andrey Vinogradov
Languages used:    English titles
Animals featured:    House centipede Scutigera coleoptrata
Date added here: 10 October 2010
Number of days this video was up at time of posting: 1 512
Number of views at time of posting: 1 978
Number of views per day: 1,3
Number of comments at time of posting (don’t forget to click through to read the comments!): 17
Comments per thousand views: 8,6
Likes at time of posting: 4
Dislikes at time of posting: 1
Likes to dislikes ratio: 4,0
Votes per thousand views: 2,5
Ratio of comments to votes: 340%

 This was the first of several films I put up on my return from the Far East of Russia in 2006. I still had a very small memory card and so there is unfortunately still very little footage – which was galling as the trip was so amazing. It was at this time I started looking for solutions to make the videos longer.
 
 On the subject of these centipedes one could write rather a lot. They are certainly quite alarming creatures to find you are sharing a room with, but the people who have them in their houses don’t like them being killed, claimingthat if they were not there the problems with cockroaches or even more poisonous spiders would be far worse.  All theysuggest is to check the bed before you get in it and check your shoes before putting them on. Even if they crawl over you while you sleep, they say, you won’t be bitten if you don’t move on them. Your choice!

Personally in Russia I batted my room mate Scooties, but I did manage to tolerate them in a recent visit to France, and nothing bad happened. There were lots of insects in the French place, so I am not sure that they deserve their reputation of doing good work against all the other invertebrates…

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