Friday, December 22, 2006

Lesson 14 - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

• ❑ Opening Word

Ну, здравствуйте, мои дорогие слушатели = Well, hello, my dear listeners!
Как вы поживаете? = 'How are you?'

'Как вы поживаете' is basically the same as 'Как дела'. The difference is in the use. I'd never say 'Как дела' to a person I just met, or to someone who's a lot older than I am. 'Как дела' is reserved for close friends, family and children. The use of 'Как поживаете' in turn is more appropriate when addressing people much older than you, groups of people, someone you don't know very well, or simply to show respect.

So, как вы поживаете? У меня всё хорошо. (I am doing fine). Are you ready for another spoonful of Russian today?

• ❑ Lesson#14 - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It would be more than appropriate to teach you a few Christmas and New Year-related phrases.

Many of you probably know that Russians have always been big on celebrating the New Year's rather than Christmas. After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. In 1992 the Christmas celebration was revived and announced to be an official state holiday. Note that the Orthodox Christmas falls after the Western Christmas on the 7th of January! Together with the Russians the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated by Romanians and Serbs, while the Greeks adopted the Western Christmas.

Did you know that the New Year holiday has been celebrated in Russia for more than 300 years? It's Peter the Great who established the New Year celebration on the 1st of January. In his documents the evergreen trees were considered the main decoration for the holiday. That will explain my choice for today's song later.

But let us turn to Russian Christmas and New Year vocabulary.

Now, during the time right before the New Year holiday people say 'С Наступающим Новым Годом' literally 'With forthcoming New Year'. But I'd translate is as 'Happy Holidays'!

Natalia: Джулия, с Наступающим Новым Годом! (S Nas-too-pah-you-schim Novym Godum)
Julia: И тебя тоже, мам.(Ee te-byah toh-zhah, mum) = ('You, too, Mom.')

When the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, it's safe to yell out: 'С Новым Годом!' You can hear people saying 'С Новым Годом' well into February. Especially to the ones they haven't seen since the previous year:)

'Merry Christmas' will be 'С Рождеством Христовым' (S Rozh-deh-stvom Khris-to-vym). I do not remember the particulars of the Russian Christmas celebration, since I left Russia in 1995. But I did some research on the subject and compiled some facts that I hope you'll find interesting. You can find the text file 'Russian Christmas' in my 'downloads' section.

Once again, if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas, say 'С Рождеством Христовым!' And if you want to wish a Happy New Year, say 'С Новым Годом!' But all through the holiday season 'С праздником' (S prahz-knee-kom) will be always appropriate and timely.

'С праздником, дорогие товарищи! :))))))) Well, maybe not that official... 'товарищи' means 'comrades'.
'С праздником, друзья!' ---- 'Happy holidays, friends!' Now, that's more like it.

• ❑ Song

"В лесу родилась ёлочка"

("A Little Fir Tree's Born") performed by a children's choir.
This is the most popular Russian New Year's song. Every Russian knows it. It's something that no winter holiday can do without. The author of the lyrics is a school teacher, who was also a librarian: Raisa Adamovna Kudashova. The song was born in 1903 and since then it brings joy and excitement to Russian kids just like that little fir tree from the song......

"В лесу родилась елочка"

В лесу родилась елочка,

В лесу она росла,

Зимой и летом стройная,

Зеленая была.

Зимой и летом стройная,

Зеленая была.

Метель ей пела песенку: 

"Спи, елочка, бай-бай!"

Мороз снежком укутывал:

"Смотри, не замерзай!"

Мороз снежком укутывал:

"Смотри, не замерзай!"

Трусишка - зайка серенький

Под елочкой скакал.

Порою волк, сердитый волк,

Рысцою пробегал.

Порою волк, сердитый волк,

Рысцою пробегал.

Чу! Снег по лесу частому

Под полозом скрипит;

Лошадка мохноногая

Торопится, бежит.

Лошадка мохноногая

Торопится, бежит.

Везет лошадка дровеньки,

А в дровнях старичок,

Срубил он нашу елочку

Под самый корешок.

Срубил он нашу елочку

Под самый корешок.

Теперь ты здесь нарядная,

На праздник к нам пришла,

И много, много радости

Детишкам принесла.

И много, много радости

Детишкам принесла

(the English Translation)

In the woods a spruce was born,

It was growing in the wood

In summer and winter

it was straight and green.

The blizzard sang it a lullaby:

Sleep dear spruce, sleep tight!

The frost put snow around it
Don't freeze!

The timid grey rabbit

hopped under the tree,

From time to time

The angry wolf just trotted by.

Hush, listen! Deep in the woods

Snow scratches under a sleigh.

A heavy horse 

Runs smoothly.

The sleigh carries firewood,

and in it was an old man

He chopped it down

at the very roots.

And here it is,
all dressed up,

it's come to us for the holiday

And lots and lots of happiness

it brought to the children.

And here is the same song performed by my 10 year-old Emily:

• ❑ Closing Word

Вот и всё. That's it.

А я прощаюсь с вами и говорю вам 'Счастливого Рождества и с Наступающим Новым Годом!'
(I am saying 'good-bye' and 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!')

Увидимся в следующем году!
('See you next year!')

Help - Which Mic to Get?

I wrote a special Christmas edition of "A Spoonful of Russian" and trying to record it now. My current mic (Samson C01U) is acting up and giving me the same problems as last time. (Remember the poor sound quality?)

I decided to go out and get a new mic. Any suggestion as to which USB mic to get would be much appreciated!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lesson 13 - Family Matters

Добрый день, друзья! Как дела? Хорошо? Отлично.
(Hello, friends! How are you? Doing well? Great!)

It's December now, and I am a bit late with my coming back to the 'Spoonful of Russian'. I was hoping to get it started again in November, they say in Russia: "Люди предполагают, а Бог располагает!" Which literally means "People make plans, but everything is in God's hands'.

To quickly bring you up to date we are in our new house in Charlotte, NC and lovin' it! Still lots of things to do around the house to make our home --> thus lack of time for making podcasts:(

For all the listeners who were asking about our trip to my hometown in Russia - the trip did not materialize for a couple of reasons. The Russian embassy told me I had some problems with my Russian passport at the last minute when I had the tickets in my hands! Then the airline company refused to refund us after we told them we were not going to Russia. But enough of that. Let's get to our lesson.


А теперь давайте окунемся в сегодняшний урок = Let us dive into today's lesson. We are in the middle of great family holidays now. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving (День Благодарения) and now you are looking forward to Christmas (Рождество)! One thing these 2 holidays have in common is family gatherings. Dads, Moms, Grandmas, Grandpas, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, cousins, daughter, sons, grandchildren....get together for a very special time. Would you know how to label a specific branch of your Family tree in Russian? To help you out I made a chart of the family members and relations. All family members have gender-specific names. Please, listen carefully as I pronounce the words. You are welcome to pause this podcast recording, rewind and repeat.

(click on the chart for a larger view) ...


For the musical part of the podcast I chose a timeless song performed by a singer from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia - Nani Bregvadze. The song is called "Снегопад" or "The Snowfall" where the snowfall stands for the end of one's youth. The singer is pleading with the Snowfall to wait and not to knock on her door. She still has love and tenderness to give, and hopes to share. The text is full of beautiful metaphors and similies. Almost 40 years have passed since Nani sang the song for the first time, but it still resonates in people's hearts, because the theme is eternal.


Я еще не успела испить свою осень
А уже снегопад сторожит у ворот
Он надежды мои как дороги заносит
И грозит застелить надо мной небосвод

Снегопад, снегопад, не мети мне на косы
Не стучи в мою дверь, у ворот не кружи
Снегопад, снегопад, если женщина просит
Бабье лето ее торопить не спеши

Не спеши, снегопад, я еще не готова
Ты еще не успел мою душу смутить
Неизлитую боль лебединого слова
Не тебе, а ему я хочу посвятить

Снегопад, снегопад, не мети мне на косы
Не стучи в мою дверь, у ворот не кружи
Снегопад, снегопад, если женщина просит
Бабье лето ее торопить не спеши

Я еще разобьюсь о твою неизбежность
Голубая метель запорошит мой дом
Я прошу, снегопад, не заснежь мою нежность
Не касайся любви ледянящим крылом

Снегопад, снегопад, не мети мне на косы
Не стучи в мою дверь, у ворот не кружи
Снегопад, снегопад, если женщина просит
Бабье лето ее торопить не спеши
Торопить не спеши, торопить не спеши


That's it. Now you can call your family members using the words you've learned today. But be advised, when addressing your brother, he might have a negative reaction to the word. It's somewhat close to the English word 'brat' :)

I want to apologize for not answering all of your e-mails. After the move I have taken up some new responsibilities and am very short on spare time. But I still welcome all your input and comments.

This lesson's recording quality leaves much to be desired, but I promise next lesson will be much better.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Just a little bit longer....

Summer break is over, and the wonderful Autumn days are here. We are loving it here in Charlotte. The colors of the leaves are breathtaking! But I am still unable to set up my recording studio like I'd like to. It looks like I'll be able to do so in the next 2 weeks though. So, stay tuned!

Many thanks to all those who send me e-mails, 'bugging' me about coming back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Summer Break

Привет всем! Looks like it's going to be a long summer break for you and a busy summer for me:) From now till the new academic year my family will be going back and forth to Charlotte, NC to settle things concerning our new residence, my husband's new job and our kids' new schools. In addition to that we are still working on getting visas for our trip to Russia in August. (What a lengthy process!)...

I haven't seen my family and friends in Russia in 7 years, and it's quite a job to find presents for all of them now. Which size clothes to bring? :)))))) Maybe I should go with 'one-size-fits-all' baseball caps?

Please, don't despair and look forward to more Russian lessons from me after this summer is over. I can't wait to start producing again!

С любовью,

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lesson 12 - Happy Birthday!

Topic - Birthday Greetings

• ❑1 intro

Добрый день, друзья! (Hello, friends!)
Как дела? (How are you?)
Надеюсь, что у вас все хорошо. (Hope you are doing well.)

Thank you for keeping up with this podcast even though I do not produce them as often as I'd like to. I am excited to get e-mails and comments on the site. Your enthusiasm is contageous! For those who asked about the condition of our house, we just sold our restored home and are planning on moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, right after our trip to Russia in August. I can hardly wait!

• ❑2 Happy Birthday!

It's lesson 12 (двенадцатый урок). Tomorrow we'll be celebrating my youngest daughter's 6th birthday. I taught my daughters to say a few birthday greetings in Russian. Let me share them with you.

So, How do you say 'Happy Birthday' in Russian?
Эмили: "I know." It's "С Днем Рождения".
That's right, Emily. "С Днем Рождения" means 'Happy Birthday' . So, what are you going to say to your sister tomorrow?
Эмили: 'С Днем Рождения, Джулия". To which Julia will probably reply "Спасибо, Емили".

Then Russians usually wish health, happiness and longevity to the birthday person among other things. The phraze 'I wish you' will be 'Я желаю тебе...' (informal, to be used addressing friends, family, children) or ' Я желаю Вам'... (formal, to be used addressing older people, people you are not very close to, or just to show respect). Can you say 'Я желаю тебе...' 'Я желаю Вам...'?

Good. Let us wish Julia health. 'Я желаю тебе здоровья'. Emily: 'Я желаю тебе здоровья'.
Now, let's wish her happiness. 'Я желаю тебе счастья'. Emily: 'Я желаю тебе счастья'.
Let's also wish her long life - долгих лет жизни. 'Я желаю тебе долгих лет жизни.' Emily: 'Я желаю тебе долгих лет жизни.'
Молодец, Эми. What would I do without you? ('Что бы я без тебя делала?')
Emily: 'Пожалуйста, мама.'

Alright! Now you know what to say next time you are invited to a Russian birthday party. And if any of my listeners happen to celebrate their birthday today, we are saying 'С Днем Рождения' to you!

Here are the phrases again:

• ❑3 song

For the musical part of today's podcast I chose a song from a Russian cartoon "Cheboorashka". The character that sings this song is happy on a very dreary day. It's his birthday! The people passing by cannot understand why he's so happy. The singer also regrets that birthdays only come once a year.

" Чебурашка и Крокодил Гена"

День рождения

Пусть бегут неуклюже
Пешеходы по лужам,
А вода по асфальту рекой.
И не ясно прохожим
В этот день непогожий,
Отчего я веселый такой.

А я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду.
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Прилетит вдруг волшебник
В голубом вертолете,
И бесплатно покажет кино.
С днем рождения поздравит
И конечно, подарит
Мне в подарок пятьсот "эскимо".

I even mada a video tutorial for you. Enjoy!

• ❑4 closing

I hope you enjoyed the song and learned something new today. As always, e-mail me if you have any comments or questions. My e-mail address is speakrussian at mac dot com. You can also leave your comments on this website. До свидания и всего хорошего! ('Good bye and all the best')!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Lesson 11 - Love is in the Air

(Due to lack of interest in the enhanced version of the podcast I am going to stick with the audio only version. Below is the Valentine's Day enhanced show converted into .mp3 file)

Привет! Hey there, all you Russian language addicts and all those who have just subscribed. Welcome! (Добро пожаловать!)

It’s Lesson#11 - Love is in the Air. It's been a while since I cranked up my Microphone and my Mac to produce a podcast. My house renovations are still going on, and we are still living with my in-laws. Even though my current environment is not ideal for writing and producing podcasts, I felt that I needed to get back out there for several reasons. I'm still getting lots of e-mails on a daily basis from listeners who express their desire for more of 'A Spoonful of Russian'. Another reason is we are working on getting things ready for our trip to my hometown in Russia this summer, and my daughters are in serious need of freshenning up their Russian:) There are other reasons as well. But personally, I just miss it myself. I miss plotting the idea of the lesson, typing it on my PowerBook (while listening to some nice classical music. Russian, of course), recording it, choosing different audio transitions, piecing it all together in GarageBand, uploading it, and getting your responses later.

As much as I'd like to produce lengthy and in-depth lessons on a weekly basis, that would not be possible for the time being. The next few lessons will probably be shorter and carry less info. Hey, it's 'A Spoonful of Russian' after-all:)

LESSON - "Love is in the Air"

You all know that Valentine's Day ( 'День Святого Валентина' in Russian) is just around the corner. I am not going to go into the history of the holiday. You can do a little research on the subject at if you want. But wouldn't it be cool to send your sweetheart a valentine written in Russian? I'm gonna show you how to do it. Here are some simple phrases you can use:

- "I love You" , of course. "Я Тебя Люблю." For your convenience I created some flash-cards to go with the lesson.

- Another phrase you can put down in your valentine is: "Be Mine". And depending on the gender the Russian translation is either "Будь Моим" or "Будь Моей".

- "We're Made for each Other" - "Мы Созданы Друг для Друга".

- If you are an older couple I have a perfect card for you on Apple site. It's one of the iCards Apple offers. It uses one of my photos that depicts a pair of old boots. It says: "We May be Old, but we Match!" In Russian, "Хоть Мы и Стары, Мы - Идеальная Пара!" You can locate my card on --> iCards --> under "new in iCards".


Now that you have a few phrases in Russian to dazzle your sweetheart, you might want to play this next song for her/ or him. It's called БЕЛОЙ АКАЦИИ ГРОЗДЬЯ ДУШИСТЫЕ. Literally "Sweet-smelling clusters of acacia". It's a romantic song about 2 lovers reminiscing about their time together one summer. The unforgettable time they spent under an acacia tree, listening to the nightingale's song and whispering the words "I am yours forever".

(А.Пугачев – музыка неизвестного автора)

Целую ночь соловей нам насвистывал,
Город молчал и молчали дома...
Белой акации гроздья душистые
Ночь напролет нас сводили с ума.

Сад весь умыт был весенними ливнями,
В темных оврагах стояла вода.
Боже, какими мы были наивными,
Как же мы молоды были тогда!

Годы промчались, седыми нас делая.
Где чистота этих веток живых?
Только зима да метель эта бела
Напоминают сегодня о них.

В час, когда ветер бушует неистово,
С новою силою чувствую я:
Белой акации гроздья душистые
Невозвратимы, как юность моя!
Белой акации гроздья душистые
Неповторимы, как юность моя...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

'A Spoonful of Russian' is back!

This is just a short note to those of my listeners, who read my blog, informing them of my come back. Please, fire up your iTunes or any other RSS aggregator of your choice this weekend to get your next 'Spoonful of Russian!' During this transition period I'll be storing my files on my dot mac space.

You can subscribe to it by visiting


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

BBC interviews Natalia

Hi, everyone. Добрый день. This is just a short note to let you know I haven't forgotten about my listeners and "A Spoonful of Russian' podcast will be coming back! I also wanted to share with you an interview I recently gave to a BBC reporter and producer April Peavey. It aired today, January 4th, 2006. It was a pleasure and honor to work with April.

The interview is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.