How to speak Russian: the essentials

On my recent car-pooling trip between Belarus and Russia and some time spent in rural parts of both countries, I realised that my Russian vocabulary is in need of immediate upgrade, otherwise I will no longer understand the speech of ordinary countryfolk. If you embarked on uneasy task of learning Russian, it is perhaps because…

Gathering Sounds: Music Findings from Around the World

Every country has their amazing (more or less) music scene, influenced both by traditional melodies and international trends. Also, there is a lot of music bands that do not perform in English (the language we all understand), but still sound fabulous, however little you understand from the lyrics. Let me share with you some great…

The gender of your city, or an ode to Istanbul

‘Essentially the great question remains: Who will hold Constantinople?’ Napoleon Some languages express it quite transparently: Moscow (Moskva) is essentially a female city and Saint-Petersburg is a real 18th century gentleman. Russian language distinguishes between grammatical genders, so we can have feminine and masculine cities on the geographical map of Russia… as well as some odd neutral…