Quassnoi
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Are there words that can be spelled with both т and ф?
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43 votes

Words borrowed directly from Ancient Greek usually use т, б and е/э for θ, β and η: теология, термометр, библиотека. Works borrowed through Byzantine Greek (translated from Byzantine sources) use ф, ...

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Why is the Turkish president's surname spelt in Russian as Эрдоган, with г?
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42 votes

Russian has different transcription systems for different languages. Some of them (Japanese, Korean, Chinese) have been developed by a single person or by a group of scholars, who had invested some ...

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Russian word for a male zebra
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38 votes

Russian has a long standing tradition of narrating fables (stories featuring anthropomorphic animals). In this tradition, the grammatical gender of name of the species (not necessarily the proper ...

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If a Russian girl calls herself a thawing pike (тающая щука), what could it mean?
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36 votes

It seems she said я та ещё щука. Тот ещё means "quite, some, hell of", as in "That's some vacation you spent with me", "That's quite a wife you have", etc: Скорее я могу ...

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"Left" and "right" in Russian
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32 votes

There are two interrogatives in Russian corresponding to English "where": locational (где?) and directional (куда?) Compare: Where are you? Где ты? Where are you going (to)? Куда ты идёшь? справа ...

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What is the meaning of: "- Отнеси кота на веранду. - Да уж лежит там."
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27 votes

First of all, you translation is correct and I would not fail you for that. That said, да уж лежит там is a peculiar, if grammatically correct, to put "it's already lying there" in Russian. ...

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How to address people in the street?
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26 votes

A boy or girl can be addressed мальчик and девочка. A person looking between about 14 and 35 could be addressed молодой человек (male) or девушка (female). A more senior person lacks the proper ...

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Why is Tolkien’s “pipe-weed” translated as “трубочное зелье”?
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25 votes

The word зелье comes from Proto-Slavic *zelьje "grass, vegetation" which kept its meaning in many Slavic languages, including Church Slavonic. It shares the root with the word зелёный "...

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Russian cases: A few examples, I'm really confused
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25 votes

You got the cases right in all three sentences. I'll try to provide English translations which would be as close to the literal meaning of the Russian phrases as possible. Please note that they are ...

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"есть" eat or have?
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24 votes

There are two verbs in Russian which are homonymous in one of their forms: it's есть meaning "to eat" (infinitive) and есть meaning "(it) is" (third person singular present from ...

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Meaning of "драже"
24 votes

Драже means pretty much the same as English "dragee": a candy covered in solid sugar shell, like an M&M or a Jordan almond. Jelly bean is not a dragee as its shell is soft. Since "The Nutcracker" ...

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What nuances does the term "тугрик" have?
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23 votes

It usually metaphorically means "some obscure local currency", hardly known and hardly usable outside the country of origin; "some kind of monetary surrogate of limited use and ...

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The history and meaning of "ни фига себе"
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23 votes

Ни фига́ себе (or a more vulgar ни хуя́ себе) is a dysphemism of ничего себе, an interjection expressing amazement or astonishment. Such dysphemistic expressions are quite common (compare English my ...

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Which word in Russian has the longest consonant cluster?
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23 votes

Let's face the truth: we're all from Stack Overflow here. $ egrep '[бвгджзклмнпрстфхцчшщ]{6,}' lopatin.txt адъюнктство, —а попразднство, —а предпразднство, —а

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What does "-с" suffix mean?
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22 votes

It's a so-called словоерс, from слово and ер (names of the constituting letters с and ъ) — a contraction of сударь. Used to express self-effacement, servility or respect (as when adding sir to each ...

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Are there loanwords from English where "h" is transliterated to "х" rather than "г"?
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22 votes

The transliteration rules changed with time in Russian. For instance, Daniel Defoe is Даниэль Дэфо (but Daniel Craig is Дэниэл Крейг); Thackeray, Disney and Halley are Теккерей, Дисней and Галлей (...

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Why do Russians add -то behind a word?
21 votes

This is a particle which puts some shared context or knowledge of the conversation as a theme (topic) of the conversation and expects some development (rheme) on that topic. It's a description in very ...

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What is the meaning of "понаехать"?
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20 votes

Понаехать here is used in the sense 4 in Wiktionary: "to come in big numbers, not being welcome". It's usually used when talking of big cities, like Moscow or St. Petersburg, because that's where ...

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Do Russians really use "Расход!" to say, "Let's go!"?
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19 votes

The character is saying расход! indeed, which is supposed to mean "scatter!", as a command. This is not a mainstream word, but its meaning is obvious to a Russian speaker. Russian sports and ...

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What is the etymology of "грёбаный"?
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19 votes

It's a euphemism of ёбаный ("fucking", literally "fucked"), same as in English "frigging" instead of "fucking". The root itself is a descendant of a PIE root meaning "to dig, to scratch". This word ...

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The Russian equivalent of 'meeting', as in team meeting
19 votes

A short everyday meeting to discuss some pressing matters in a face-to-face talk would be планёрка. A more serious meeting, like the one to define a middle-term strategy, would be совещание. A ...

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Difference between "даже" and "аж"
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19 votes

Аж is indeed etymologically connected to даже, however has nuances in usage. When used with measurable quantities it means "no less than", "as many as", "whole" etc., ...

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What is the difference between ы and и?
19 votes

All vowels in Slavic languages come in three varieties: open, closed and iotized (closed following the palatal approximant j) Russian phonetics requires that all open vowels follow non-palatalized (...

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Why do some Russian words look similar to English ones?
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18 votes

The influx of Latin words into what is now the Russian language happened in several waves: VII-X centuries, direct contact of Slavic people with the speakers of Romance languages: вино < vinum, ...

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What is this Russian word which means "just a sec"?
18 votes

You're probably looking for щас which is just a lenient rendition of сейчас. It's the same as saying "wassup" instead of "what's up" or "ain't" instead of "am not&...

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Russian equivalents of 能骗就骗 (if you can cheat, then cheat)
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18 votes

Не наебёшь — не проживёшь This literally means "if you don't fuck people over, you don't survive". The meaning of this proverb is slightly different from the Chinese one, as it's more about moral ...

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Why do verbs in past tense—and not other parts of speech—have gender?
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18 votes

Because historically what we call past in modern Russian is perfect, and what we believe to be past forms of the verbs are in fact participles (adjectives formed from verbs). Compare: Он пел / она ...

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How would you translate "I'm rusty" (in relation to a skill) to Russian?
18 votes

Забыл (or позабыл) is perfectly OK when you are talking about "really rusty". "A little rusty" would be подзабыл. Я совсем позабыл, как играть в шахматы // I'm really rusty at ...

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female “стрелец”?
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18 votes

According to paradigm for words in -ец (when used to form an agent noun), it's replaced with -ица in feminine: певец/певица, красавец/красавица, ленивец/ленивица etc. So feminine for стрелец would be ...

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Is it temperature or something else?
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18 votes

In this context the degree (градус) means volume fraction of ethanol (alcohol) in a beverage. One percent of ethanol by volume corresponds to one degree on Tralles hydrometer, so historically alcohol ...

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