Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The next few years should be a good time...

Putin hints will return to Kremlin in 2012

(Reuters) - 

Russia's paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, hinted on Monday he would return to the presidency in 2012 for six more years and said democracy protesters marching without permission deserved to be beaten.


In the Kommersant interview, Putin robustly defended police crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in recent months. He said those who marched must obey current laws requiring them to seek advance permission from local authorities.

"If you get (permission), you go and march," Putin said. "If you don't - you have no right to. Go without permission, and you will be hit on the head with batons. That's all there is to it."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Russian Tutor

Megan Duffy, the Russian language tutor, will be available at the Russian Studies Center:


MONDAY 10a-1.30p

TUESDAY 12.30p-4p

THURSDAY 12:30-4p


You can contact her directly via email.


She’s available to look over workbook assignments, correct dialogues/essays, help you understand grammar, prepare you for quizzes, etc.


She’s a native English speaker but has learned Russian the way you have—lots of struggles and successes.  


Sight Words

A recording of the sight words to learn the Russian Alphabet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Food Prices Rising in Russia

After looking at Russian newspaper headlines I found one that is most astonishing: the prices of wheat in Eastern Russia has almost doubled over summer. The price of a loaf of bread has risen from 35 roubles ($1.10) to 60 roubles ($2) since the summer months began. This is largely due to the fires present across Russia and the profiteering of Russian markets. It is also contributed to the flooding in China, the country's other source for buckwheat and rice.

Just thought you'd be interested :)

Unit 1 Dialogue: http://www.box.net/shared/g6os0p53un
я вас любил: http://www.box.net/shared/89ng65t3k8

Friday, August 20, 2010


Here are some fun videos I found. The first is an amusing song about Soviet History set to the "Tetris" melody, which I only vaguely knew to be based on a Russian folk song:

And I found this one after a small amount of research. The "Type A" song in Tetris is based on the melody of "Коробейники," arranged for the game by Hirokazu Tanaka. The song tells the beginning of a story (fully told by Nikolay Nekrasov's poem of the same name) about a young peddler and a girl named Katya. (The Cyrillic lyrics are in the info section of the Youtube page)


Frozen culture in a fiery land

Definitely worth a read… I disagree, though, with the bit near the end where the author speaks of culture surviving the Bolsheviks… No, that’s simply wrong. The only reason that phenomena like the one described in the article (almost incredible reverence for high culture) managed to survive the ravages of the twentieth century is that they were frozen there, in Russia, but the atavistic and idealistic Soviet regime…

An Oasis of Culture in a Fiery Russian Summer


TARUSA, RUSSIA — As the world knows by now, this was Russia’s summer of “zhara,” the great heat, and “dym,” the unstoppable smoke.

Never have our annual days at the dacha here nearly 160 kilometers, or about 100 miles, south of Moscow, elicited so much attention; friends as far afield as Chicago worried that we were caught in the deadly forest and peat fires or suffering from the record drought and heat.

In fact, our slice of earth along the Oka River was spared the worst. The heat transformed everything into a kind of Russian Florida: un-air-conditioned, peopled by tanned bodies in shorts and flocking to the 24-hour store for a cool beer at 3 a.m. On nighttime terraces, where we usually shiver as the wind stirs the trees or an owl telegraphs its presence, we sat in sundresses.


Among those who recognized Tarusa’s charm was the late Russian pianist Svyatoslav Richter. Fifty years ago he erected one of the most striking, original structures of Soviet times: an austere wooden tower of a dacha commanding a stunning view of the Oka and its forested banks, with a small amphitheater for performances.

As recently as 2003, the annual pilgrimage to this dacha by devotees of Tarusa’s summer music festival to honor Mr. Richter was a matter of a few dozen loyalists boarding a single boat and scrambling up the banks to the forlorn building. Solemn toasts were raised to “Svyatoslav Teofilovich” in the reverence Russians reserve for their artists, above all their late, lamented artists.

extra handwriting exercises

This site contains many excellent handwriting worksheets.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

help with the alphabet

Here are some resources for learning the Russian alphabet and the first couple of units of Голоса.  
  • A list (in pdf format) of Russian sight words—these are calques from and homophones of English. (Not all the words are from English—some are words that both Russian and English borrowed from other sources, like Greek, Latin and German.)
  • A recording (mp3, your browser should just play it) of me, reading the words above. I’ve slowed down the recording a bit so that you’re better able to hear my pronunciation of individual phonemes.
  • A creepy version of the Russian alphabet from IKEA (the number one foreign investor in Russia!). In fact, the Russians don’t NEED an alphabet song, and no one sings it and no one teaches it to kids. It’s a phonetic alphabet—there aren’t really standardized names for the letters, as there must be in English. (How else would we explain how to spell our crazy words???)
  • The Golosa site, where you can listen to recordings of many of the exercises from the Алфавит (Alphabet) section.
  • For those of you who want to perfect your Russian cursive (пропись), some “worksheets” that I concocted (in .doc format).
  • And, while I’m at it, a link to the Golosa cards on FlashcardExchange website, where you can find all your work done for you…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SMART Grant for Russian Majors

If they meet minimum requirements (see below under Eligible Students), students majoring in Russian Studies are eligible to receive up to $8000 towards educations expenses. Many of our majors have received this grant in the past…

The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, also known as the National Smart Grant is available during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study (or fifth year of a five-year program) to at least half-time students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language; or non-major single liberal arts programs. The student must also be enrolled in the courses necessary to complete the degree program and to fulfill the requirements of the intended eligible major in addition to maintaining a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in course work required for the major. The National SMART Grant award is in addition to the student's Pell Grant award.

How Much Can A Student Receive?

A National SMART Grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study. The amount of the SMART Grant, when combined with a Pell Grant, may not exceed the student's cost of attendance. In addition, if the number of eligible students is large enough that payment of the full grant amounts would exceed the program appropriation in any fiscal year, then the amount of the grant to each eligible student may be ratably reduced.

Eligible Students

· be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;

· be Pell Grant-eligible during the same award year;

· be enrolled at least half-time;

· be in the third or fourth year of an undergraduate degree program (or fifth year of a five-year program);

· be pursuing a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language; or non-major single liberal arts programs, and

· have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale as of the end of the second award year and continue to maintain a 3.0 GPA that must be checked prior to the beginning of each payment period (e.g., semester).

Note - A student is eligible to receive a National SMART Grant if the student enrolls in the courses necessary to complete the degree program and to fulfill the requirements of the intended eligible major.

That is, an otherwise eligible student can receive a National SMART Grant for a payment period only if the student is enrolled in at least one course that meets the specific requirements of the student's National SMART Grant-eligible major and it is not necessary that the course be offered by the academic department that confers the degree in the eligible major. For example, a student majoring in biology is eligible to receive a National SMART Grant during a semester in which he or she is enrolled in a physics course if the physics course is required for the major even if the student is not enrolled in any biology courses.

A student who is taking general education courses or electives that satisfy general degree requirements for the student's National SMART Grant-eligible program, but who is not taking at least one course specific to and required for the National SMART Grant-eligible major, is not eligible for a National SMART Grant payment for that payment period. For example, the biology student described above may be taking courses during a semester in the humanities, the arts, and physical education in order to fulfill the general education requirements of the degree program or major. However, to be eligible for a National SMART Grant the student must also be enrolled in at least one course required for the student's National SMART Grant major. If the student were enrolled only in courses that satisfy the general education requirements of the National SMART Grant-eligible program, but not in any courses that are specific to the major, he or she would not be eligible for a National SMART Grant payment for the semester.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A lesson in how evil that man wroughts lives on...

This lesson in human folly has particularly painful meaning for me:

Among all the troubles that have been visited on Russia in this summer of record heat, wildfires, smoke and crop failure, perhaps none have been so persistent and impervious to remedy as the peat fires. Particularly maddening, many here say, is the knowledge that the problem is caused by humans.

As early as 1918 Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. That approach was abandoned in the late 1950s, after natural gas was discovered in Siberia, but the bogs were never reflooded, though the authorities are currently weighing the idea.

For now, though, firefighters here are confronted with subterranean conflagrations that are among the world’s toughest fires to snuff out, according to the small community of experts on bog fires.

The word in Russian is тoрф... Turf. A word added to Russian during Peter the Great, from German.