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Не всё коту масленица January 7, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

…which translates, rather clumsily, as, “It’s not all Shrovetide for the cat”. (Can someone give me a 1st year secondary school refresher course in punctuation? Full stop after quotation marks or within the buggers? (I’ve always been a within-man myself, but see without more and more often.) Is this something where Brits and Americans differ? Or are rules passé?) Which translates from Russian-English to English-English as, “After Dinner Comes the Reckoning”. And even if it’s the wrong feast, it’s fully appropriate that this proverb should be in Russian. Because the Russian’s got a bee in his bonnet. Now for those of you with limited access to our post-Soviet pals, there’s something you need to bear in mind if you’re going to get involved in a deep liaison with them. Between you and me, they find straightforward, unadulterated old fun a bit of a sin. I don’t mean they’re against it altogether. Au contraire. They can party like the best of them. (I rather like generalising about the inhabitants of the largest country on earth. It’s a perfect reflection of my laziness and simplicity.) But they’re a superstitious old bunch, the Russkies, and the overwhelming majority of Russians, to this day, will have led pretty tough lives. So straightforward, unadulterated, long-lasting fun is a bit of a novelty. And that’s pretty much what we’ve had from late December to this very day. (Imagine, fun with blogging reduced to a starvation portion. It’s possible, boyz and gals.)

But, my oh my, is our Shrovetide well and truly over. The Russian has a good ten days’ worth of guilt at all that fun to expunge. Luckily for him, having had guests for ages provides an easy penance. The flat is utterly filthy. And those dreaded three little syllables – уборка (pronounced uborka) – have wormed their way into his fun-addled brain. And a Russian uborka isn’t a little bit of a rub-round with a duster and doing the washing-up. No, an uborka is the bollocks. It’s unscrewing U-bends and fingering out the amassed filth of the last few months. It’s taking down curtains to get to grips with the months of dust that has gathered nicely and patiently. It’s opening the cassette-decks of a hi-fi to have those rotatey bits wool-free. It is, in short, major cleanage. So far, I’ve managed to get away with the washing-up, putting on and hanging out a wash – thank god we’ve got a washing-machine and I haven’t got to do it by hand, or rather, by foot, in the bath. And we don’t have a bath – and mopping the kitchen floor. But I just know he’s going to come up with an operation of some sort any second now, which is why I’ve slipped away for some emergency bloggery while there’s still the chance, before he’s got that insane, Rasputin-like look in his eye, a sweat up and is on his knees with a bucket of luke-warm, grey, acidic water, guaranteed to take your skin off, and a cloth which is miraculously hidden for the non-uborka days of the year – perhaps in the U-bend – and has clearly seen better days.

Well, I am currently being deafened by the sound of some old-fashioned hoovering and have been set my next task, which is of a pleasantly technical, rather than physical, nature, so shall bid farewell. The post-fun hiatus could be just as long as the fun hiatus. Depends on a highly unpredictable guilt-dirt ratio…



1. Bren - January 7, 2006

Ha ha.

First thing’s first; I love a blog written under the influence. This comment is penned in the same condition, but I can’t throw in tricky Russian vocab.

Second, I tend to spell Rusky with only one s. Not sure if there’s an official nomclamenture.

Third, um, shit. Forgotten. Oh yeah. In strictly, ridiculously (and can someone please tell me why ridiculous isn’t spelt r-e, because in Australian, that’s how we pronounce it). Anyway, in super correct stuff, the full stop should be inside the quotation marks, UNLESS you’re quoting something and the something you’re quoting isn’t the end of a sentence, but YOUR sentence ends at the end of your quotation. In that case, the full stop lies without the quotation marks. I think.

At least, that’s what I did in my thesis.

2. BiB - January 9, 2006

Bren, you must thank your lucky stars every day that ridiculous isn’t written – I wanted to write spelt, but then wasn’t sure it wasn’t spelled – rediculous. One of English’s joys is that the written language is such a poor reflection of the spoken and anyway, what with the language having gone round the world, there’s no way it could accommodate all our local variants without becoming a squillion different languages in the process. I know oddnesses like through/though/ought/cough/bough/tough and the like are sort of ludicrous, but if you try to rein it in, you end up with bonkers situations such as in Germany, where some group of academic oddballs decides to introduce spelling reform and folk are stumped as to whether they should be writing Chauffeur or Schofför. English’s wealth is in its chaos. And flexibility. And the fact that Americans speak it.

3. endrus - January 10, 2006

Hi there,

A very nice blog you have!

As for commas and periods, yeah right, there’s a different between AE and BE. In British English they go without the quotation marks, and Americans have them within.

4. BerlinBear - January 16, 2006

About the commas and full stops in quotations, I’m afraid endrus has it wrong when it comes to British usage. Bren had it sort of right, but I suspect under the influence the explanation got a bit wonky. Here’s the rub: Americans always put the punctuation marks inside the quotation marks, whereas British put the punctuation inside the quotation marks *if the punctuation belongs to the original quotation* but outside otherwise. Here’s an explanation. So, in your Shrovetide example, without was fine for British usage.

As for spelled/spelt, both are perfectly acceptable. I prefer spelt myself, but that’s just personal.

5. Blonde at Heart - October 3, 2006

I am sure you will not get to read this, but Bren, ridiculous came from the Latin word “ridiculus, -a, -um”.

6. BiB - October 3, 2006

…but, BAH, does it mean the same in English as it meant in Latin?

7. Blonde at Heart - October 4, 2006


8. BiB - October 4, 2006

My Latin is a dim and distant memory. Greek even dimmer and distanter.

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