Friday, November 14, 2014

a Spoonful of Russian 032

Today I fill a request of one of my Podcast listeners/ YouTube subscribers by reciting a short poem written by one of Russia's greatest talents - Anna Akhmatova. Лотова Жена - Анна Ахматова (Lot's Wife - Anna Akhmatova). To view the text: http://youtu.be/2fEWD9bqAWk

Friday, October 24, 2014

Enjoy your Spoonfuls?

Enjoying the podcast? Got a minute? Please, add your iTunes review for my podcast.

It is currently buried underneath 40 or so other foreign language podcasts. Let's put it on the front page! More votes, more exposure, more content. Thank you in advance.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

a Spoonful of Russian 031

The video that goes with this episode can be found on my YouTube channel: Episode 031

Toasting is a huge thing in Russia. Has been for ages. A full glass must be drunk to the bottom after every toast, because “a toast without wine is like a wedding without a bride!” A traditional Russian drinking party usually includes a sequence of several standard toasts.


You can refresh them by watching my Most Common Russian Drinking Toasts/Phrases video.





The most common first toast is...

To our meeting!
За встречу!
[za FSTRYE-tchoo] … sort of an ice-breaker toast:)



Another good opener toast is…


To our health!
Будем здоровы!
[BOO-dem zda-RO-vy]



The toasts that follow largely depend on the occasion that brought the people together. At a birthday party, the first toast (with wishes of health, success and a long life) is usually to the birthday guy or lady. The second toast is to their parents as a sign of honor.

At a wedding, the first toast is “To the health of the newlyweds.” After that, the guests shout "Горько!"(Gorko!) often and loudly, all through the banquet. “Gorko” literally means "bitter” in Russian, implying the bitterness the wine being drunk. By yelling that the wine is bitter, the guests are inviting the newlyweds to make it sweeter by giving each other a sweet long kiss. As the bride and groom kiss, the guests count the seconds: “Один! Два! Три! Четыре! Пять! ... One, two, three, four, five..." until the kiss is over, whereupon they raise their glasses in a toast.

At a funeral banquet, the first part of the toast is usually an uplifting or touching story about the dearly departed; it is concluded with the words Пусть земля ему/ей будет пухом! Вечная память! (Let the ground in which he/she rests be like goose down. Eternal memory to (him/her). When people in Russia drink to the dead it is customary not to clink glasses.

Without a doubt towards the middle of the party someone usually proposes a toast “За женщин”! “To beautiful ladies!” or “To the ladies present here!" At this point someone else usually says that real men stand up when they drink a toast to beautiful ladies, and they drink to the bottom. All the gentlemen present promptly comply.

The last toast, “На посошок!” / “Na pososhok", is usually pronounced when the guests are about to leave. In olden days, travelers used a walking stick, called posokh or, diminutively, pososhok in Russian, during long journeys. A toast to the walking stick, therefore, is meant to make sure that the return journey is safe.

Learn some Russian today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

a Spoonful of Russian 030

The video that goes with this episode can be found on my YouTube channel: Episode 030

Asking questions in Russian can be quite a daunting and intimidating task, especially if you try to follow the proper grammar rules of declention, gender agrement, etc. What if you are a beginner? Should you not even try? Of course not.

By knowing basic Russian interrogatives, you'll be able to express your questions, even without an extensive vocabulary or grammar knowledge. Lots of times you don’t even need to form a complete sentence to ask a question. All you need is to know the ‘question word’ and your pointer finger:)

Learn some Russian today!


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

a Spoonful of Russian 028


Today’s spoonful is going to consist of a useful Russian phrase and a poem in Russian. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the poem. The reason for reading out loud is so that you can get more familiar with the Russian sounds.

As you’ve probably noticed I started this podcast with the expression Добрый день translated as ‘Good afternoon’. There is also Доброе утро (‘Good morning’) and Добрый вечер (‘Good evening’). So when is the appropriate time of the day to use these expressions? Most Russians use the following time frames for them. For example, use Доброе утро from 6am till noon. Use Добрый день from noon till 6pm...and Добрый вечер is used anytime past 6pm and before bedtime.


Now here’s your chance to practice saying Доброе утро, Добрый день, and Добрый вечер in Russian. First I say the phrase, then you’ll hear a sound - that will be your prompt to repeat the phrase after me. Then I repeat the phrase one last time, so you can check your pronunciation. Давайте начнем. Let’s begin.


Доброе утро
Добрый день
Добрый вечер





Замечательно! Wonderful! And now for the poem. I will be reading one of the most popular poems written by Sergei Esenin in 1913. It’s called БЕРЕЗА (The Birch-Tree). It was part of my middle school program, and I can still recite it by memory.

The Birch-Tree


Just below my window

Stands a birch-tree white,
Under snow in winter
Gleaming silver bright.

On the fluffy branches

Sparkling in a row
Dangle pretty tassels
Of the purest snow

There the birch in silence

Slumbers all day long
And the snow gleams brightly
In the golden sun.

And the dawn demurely

Going on its rounds
With a silver mantle
Decks again the boughs

(translation by Peter Tempest)




This is your spoonful of Russian for today.


I encourage you, my Listener, to leave me a voicemail. It can be a question, a comment, a suggestion.


Your feedback and ratings on iTunes means a lot to me. I read every single comment. It just makes my day.


До свидания and stay hungry for the next Spoonful of Russian!



- Leave a quick voicemail calling: 209-980-7877 (209-980-RUSS)
- For longer question email: spoonfulofrussian@gmail.com
- twitter: @russianspoonful (with hashtag #askNataliaW )
- YouTube: youtube.com/spoonfulofrussian

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sunday, May 04, 2014

What's On My Mind (О Чём Думает Моя Голова) reading out loud



Almost everybody has a book that they read and re-read in their childhood. When we read it again as adults it takes us back into the wonderful world of childhood fantasies and dreams.

I have a book like that too. In Russian it was called "О чём думает моя голова". Translated into English "What's on My Mind". It's a collection of short stories about 2 elementary school girls, the best of friends. About their everyday adventures, how they made friends, how they took revenge on enemies, tried to avoid problems at school, how they pleaded with their parents to adopt a puppy, and more. Basically, I saw myself in one of those girls. The best part is that the narrator  is one of the girls, and you can really hear a 3rd-grader talking. Kids come alive in the pages of the book.

I am lucky enough to have the very same copy of my favorite book with me. Today I wanted to share the first chapter with you. If you are a beginner and cannot follow, don't despair. Simply hearing the Russian speech will aid you in your studies. I am reading at a normal speed.

О Чём Думает Моя Голова - читаем вслух

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not Gone. Just Getting Ready for my Oldest Child's Wedding.



Thank you all who enjoys the content I produce and who is patiently waiting for updates. This Sunday (in 3 days!) my oldest daughter is getting married. As you can imagine things are pretty hectic now. But even at this time I'm getting fresh ideas for my next YouTube video / iTunes podcast.

As always, I'm open to suggestions.

Again, спасибо. And... до скорой встречи!


Monday, January 06, 2014

Russian Christmas (Рождество)



Many of you probably know that Russians have always been big on celebrating the New Year rather than Christmas.

After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed.

Today, it's once again celebrated in grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in incense-filled Cathedrals amidst the company of fellow believers and the painted icons of the Saints of old.

The Russian Orthodox Church still uses the old Julian calendar; therefore, its Christmas celebration falls on January 7th. It's a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration. Before this date, Orthodox Russians fast for 40 days. The Lent period ends with the first star in the night sky on January 6 -- a symbol of Jesus Christ's birth. Many Orthodox Christians go to the church to attend a Christmas liturgy that evening.

So today It would be more than appropriate to teach you how to say Merry Christmas in Russian.

'Merry Christmas' will be 'С Рождеством Христовым' 

(S Rozh-deh-stvom Khris-to-vym)