Thursday, September 1, 2011

1st of September – Russian day of knowledge

This day is a very special day for Russian pupils and students. It is time to leave summer vacation behind and go back to school. Some are happy about it, some are not :-).

I still remember 1st of September when I was a kid. Lots of flowers for teachers, all the school gathered in a school yard, and some music, and something more... I'm not sure. I'm getting old, it seems.

Anyway, today is a special day for you and me, too. Because this blog officially starts! Yay!

Yay, anyone?

Anybody here?

Oh, I see some faces. Hello! Привет всем!

Today our studies fun starts. I do hope to make this blog a place where you can come to find answers to all your Russian language related questions. I'm not a teacher of Russian, I'm just a native, and I'm your source of modern and spoken language. Real people don't talk like they do in textbooks. And I'm going to show you how I talk, how my friends talk and people around me. I'm from Moscow, so of course I can't cover local dialects, but will you please forgive me for this? *begging eyes*

So, let's talk about... fingers!

Russian finger vocabulary

Strange topic, I know. But this is not a dry boring textbook, right? First, let's see how fingers are called in Russian:

пальцы: большой палец (literally big finger)
указательный палец (finger that points)
средний палец (middle finger)
безымянный палец (nameless finger, poor little boy T_T)
мизинец (tiny finger)
большой палец ноги... (big finger of a leg)

Wait. Fingers on legs? Yes, in Russian language fingers and toes are all пальцы. I still call toes as fingers sometimes. Or I can say that humans have 20 fingers :-D Двадцать пальцев: на ногах и на руках.

And now something more advanced. When Russians see someone who isn't willing to do anything about a certain matter, we say:
Он(она) палец о палец не ударит.

For example:
Во дворе его дома много снега, но Пётр палец о палец не ударит, чтобы убрать его.
There's a lot of snow in his yard, but Peter won't bother to clean it.

Вика всегда опаздывает, но она и пальцем о палец не ударит, чтобы исправиться.
Victoria is always late, but she won't change herself.
(Notice that we can also say пальцем о палец не ударит — meaning is the same.)

Another thing with fingers is палец в рот не клади/пальца в рот не клади. It comes from палец в рот не клади — по самый локоть откусит (don't put your finger to his mouth — he would bite your arm off). Eww. We say it about someone we don't really trust, who can be dangerous, someone who knows how to stand for himself.

Это суровый человек, ты ему палец в рот не клади.
This is a harsh man, watch your step with him.

And the last thing: по пальцам можно пересчитать — about something that you can count on your fingers, something in a small quantity. Like:
Все мои пары обуви можно по пальцам пересчитать.
I have so few pairs of shoes that you can count them on your fingers. (It's about me, actually...)

По пальцам можно пересчитать, сколько у Елены книг.
Elena has very few books. (I don't know her.)

So that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed and see you in the next one!


  1. Yay,here I am :)
    Ekaterina-san,you opened such marvelous blog? Congratulations!
    Really I became very fond of this attractive blog with first lesson. A little difficult for me ,but I remembered at least names of each fingers.Now I wonder why the ring finger is called nameless ,безымянный палец, in Russian^^ Ummm...interesting.

  2. Thank you, Kikio-san!

    What kind of stuff you would like to read here? Vocabulary, grammar, pronounciation or something else? I plan to make not only posts but also videos here, so you can listen to native speaking.

    I guess it's nameless because it doesn't have any special features. Probably my ancestors didn't wear rings in ancient times, but I'm not sure :)

  3. Good to see you have started another blog! It will be a brilliant resource for anyone learning Russian. I don't have your gift and talent for languages, so it won't be for me, but I'll continue to look at your Russian language blog and admire the photos! :)

  4. Aww, you're too sweet :) And I thought that I'd start getting first comments in a month, not earlier :)

    As for languages, it's not about having a gift, it's about passion that drives you forward. Anyone can learn a language if there's a reason. I'm a bookworm, for example. The thought of being able to read more books because of knowing the languages... oh, it makes me so crazily happy ^.^

  5. What's a wonderful post! Although I'm native Russian but I like you interpretation. And it's very useful for me as English learner. Thank you, I'm very glad to be one of the first your blog reader.

  6. Welcome to the blog, Stasy! I'm glad you joined us.

  7. Hello, Ekaterina
    Congratulations! The topic about finger is very interesting and universal! It will be a good icebreaker when I first see someone. I’m waiting for your next blog! See you.
    Best wishes,

  8. Hello, Keiko!
    Thank you for visiting my young blog. I hope to cover as many topics as possible here. One of the next ones will be about being slim in Russian language :)

  9. Ekaterina san,thank you for the additional explanation about безымянный палец-о безымянном палце(Is this declension correct? ).
    Oh,you ask me about which topics I'd like to read here? You'd better not to ask it. You'll be soon worn out as I have mountains of requests^^
    Today let me allow to say one of them.

    ・In Japan,we have many onomatopoetic words.In Russia,too? If so,I'd like to know how they are.

  10. о пальце would be correct. My husband forgets poor Ь all the time ^^ In one of videos to come I'll pronounce words with ь.

    We do have some onomatopoetic words, but not as many as in Japanese language ^^ Like sounds of animals: cat says мяу, dog says гав-гав, cow - муу. If you like you can check this looong article about them:

  11. о пальце ? Ok,I see. And I'll check the link,thank you.
    In japan,гав-гав is exactly the sound when we down something to drink in one gulp ^^ So many people,so many sounds.Interesting!

  12. I've started collecting Russian onomatopoetic words, when I have enough I'll start posting them here.

    I'm learning a few Japanese onomatopoetic things now: peko peko, kusu kusu, gera gera and such ^.^ かわいい!

  13. Ekaterina-san, I had forgot at all that the final B was pronounced like F. So " гав-гав" is pronounced "gaf- gaf",isn't it?
    Rightly, Japanese gab gab drink a lot of water but not gaf gaf. Sorry,I was mistaken ^^ 

  14. Yes, it sounds like "гаф-гаф" :) The verb to bark will be гавкать, also as "гафкать"

    I think gab-gab sounds really like drinking lots of water. I can easily imagine myself drinking gab-gab ^.^


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