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Michele A. Berdy

The Russian Word’s Worth

A humorous and informative guide
to the Russian language, culture and translation

with an introduction, eight thematic chapters, and a subject index

400 pp., ISBN 978-5-7172-0087-5

Michele A. Berdy has lived and worked in Moscow for most of the last 32 years, working in documentary film, television production, public health communication, and journalism. An accomplished translator and interpreter, she is best known for her popular weekly column “The Word’s Worth” on language and translation for The Moscow Times. Her articles on Russian culture, current events and various aspects of intercultural communication have appeared in the Russian and English-language press. She has written four guidebooks about Moscow, St Petersburg and Russia, and is co-author of a Russian-English dictionary.

Since 2002, readers all over the world have been enjoying and learning from Michele A. Berdy’s column, “The Word’s Worth,” in The Moscow Times. A quirky, opinionated, sometimes hilarious and yet always thoughtful and authoritative guide, Berdy looks at Russia’s changing culture, politics, and daily life through language and the art of translation. In the over 200 columns gathered in this volume, she explores the language of popular and youth culture, politics, the workplace, culture high and low, and the comical struggle of expats trying to feel at home in a foreign language and culture. She tackles subjects not found in any Russian textbook or cultural guide, from the serious (expressing condolences and mastering church etiquette) through the annoying (dealing with the plumber and writing the perfect robbery report), to the essential (excusing oneself – politely and not -- to use the rest room). Her columns clarify Russian grammar, provide translations of devilishly difficult words and phrases, and throw open a window on Russia in the 21st century.

This volume includes columns from 2002 to 2007, updated and organized into thematic chapters. An index of Russian words, phrases and expressions provides convenient reference.

The Russian Word’s Worth is essential reading for students and teachers of Russian, translators, Russia-watchers, foreigners in Moscow, and anyone who wants to understand Russia today.

Praise for Michele Berdy’s columns:

For those of us in the States dealing with contemporary Russian — newspapers, magazines, novels, movies — Michele Berdy's columns are so good, they've become addictive, providing in-depth insight into what's new, what's different, and what's stayed the same in today's language. Russian is changing at lightning speed, and her insider knowledge of how Russians actually speak is second to no one's. If I can't be on the streets of Moscow or Petersburg myself, at least I have Michele Berdy to be my eyes and ears.” — Marian Schwartz

Michele Berdy is to the Russian language what Julia Child was to French cooking: the same juicy, humorous approach, the same demystification of a daunting subject, the same message that ‘if I can do this, so can you’." — Joanne Turnbull

Michele has a truly unique gift for articulating the difficulties that Russians and English-speakers encounter while trying to understand each other's worlds. Her work is as entertaining as it is profound, and it will prove equally useful to beginning students and to advanced professionals.” — Robert Chandler