LINGUIST List 25.1402

Mon Mar 24 2014

Welcome Aboard to Eastern Europe!

Editor for this issue: Sarah Fox <>

Date: 24-Mar-2014
From: LINGUIST List <>
Subject: Welcome Aboard to Eastern Europe!
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Region 6 | Eastern Europe | Fund Drive 2014

Welcome back to the TraveLING Around the World! This week we will be heading to Eastern Europe.

And today we are going to start with the most most eastern part of it - the Russian Federation. Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area; extending across much of Eastern Europe and the entirety of northern Asia, Russia spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms.

Though the Russian is the most widespread and also the official language, there are more than 100 indigenous languages that are spoken by over 185 ethnic groups designated as nationalities. 27 different languages are considered official languages in various regions of Russia, along with Russian. Another interesting fact is that the languages of the Russian Federation belong to 14 language families: Indo European, Altaic, Uralic, Yukaghir, Kartvelian, Abkhazo-Adyghean (Northwest Caucasian), Dagestanian (Northeast Caucasian), Sino-Tibetan, Eskimo–Aleut, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Yeniseian, Austroasiatic, Ainu; Nivkh (language isolate).

If you want to learn more about the languages spoken in Russia as well as about the ongoing research of the Russian linguists you should definitely visit the Institute of Linguistics (ILING) at the Russian Academy of Sciences, that is located in Moscow. The Institute of Linguistics was founded in 1950 and is one of the oldest linguistic institutes in country. It conducts extensive, in-depth study of theoretical problems in linguistics and researches languages of the Russian Federation, CIS as well as other world’s languages. A lot of attention is paid to the current socio-linguistic problems (language situation, language policy, language conflicts in different regions of the world), historical and comparative linguistics, as well as the theory and methods of sociolinguistics.

Moscow is one of the largest science centers in Russia. The Lomonosov Moscow State University and Russian National Research Medical University are located in Moscow as well as numerous other research and applied science institutions. There are 452 libraries in the city, including 168 for children.

But besides being one of the main scientific centers of the country, Moscow is famous for being the center of the Russian historical heritage. Don’t miss to visit the heart and soul of Russia, the Red Square. It is the main city square in Moscow that separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from an historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Being there you also won’t miss Moscow's most recognized building, Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Up north is located the “cultural capital” of Russia, Saint Petersburg. Just like Moscow, Saint Petersburg is a large scientific center and has its own linguistic research institution the Institute for Linguistic Studies that also belongs to the Russian Academy of Sciences. So if you are in the area, don’t forget to say “hi” to your Russian fellow linguists. No matter whether you are a museum person or a “walk through the city” type of tourist, Saint Petersburg will satisfy your wanderlust. The city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes, and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. It has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas, and around 80 other cultural establishments. What some of you may not know is that due to the intricate web of canals, Saint Petersburg is often called Venice of the North.

Let’s now go the the Nevsky Avenue (Russian: Nevsky Prospekt [ˈnʲefskʲɪj prɐˈspʲekt]), the main street in the city. The Nevsky Avenue is, in some ways, the Russian version of the Times Square in New York city. Planned by Peter the Great as beginning of the road to Novgorod and Moscow, the avenue runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station. The majority of the city's shopping and nightlife are located on or right off of the Nevsky Avenue.

While taking a stroll along Nevsky Avenue you cannot fail to notice the impressive Kazan Cathedral. It is my most favorite, absolutely breathtaking sight of St. Petersburg. Kazan Cathedral was built to an enormous scale and boasts an impressive stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain. It was inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome and was intended to be the country’s main Orthodox Church.

From the 1760s onwards the Winter Palace was the main residence of the Russian Tsars. Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this Baroque-style palace is perhaps St. Petersburg’s most impressive attraction. Many visitors also know it as the main building of the Hermitage Museum. The green-and-white three-storey palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and is definitely worth visiting.

Food: If you got hungry in the middle of our trip, don’t worry - Russian cuisine is as diverse as the country itself and will definitely be able to satisfy your taste buds. Here are a few thing that traditionally represent Russian cuisine:
- Shchi [ɕːi] (Russian: щи) is a Russian soup with cabbage as the primary ingredient. Its primary distinction is its sour taste, which usually originates from cabbage. When sauerkraut is used instead, the soup is called sour shchi, and soups based on sorrel, spinach, nettle, and similar plants are called green shchi. Linguistics fun facts: the two-letter word щи contains the letter щ that represents the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative /ɕ/, which is absent in most non-Cyrillic alphabets and is transcribed into them with several letters. For instance, In German, щи becomes eight letters, Schtschi.
- Pirozhki [pʲiroʂˈkʲi] (singular: pirozhok; diminutive of "pirog" [pie]) are small stuffed buns (pies) made of either yeast dough or short pastry. They are filled with one of many different fillings and are either baked (the ancient Slavic method) or shallow-fried (known as "priazhenie", this method was borrowed from the Tatars in the 16th century). One feature of pirozhki that sets them apart from, for example, English pies is that the fillings used are almost invariably fully cooked. The use of chopped hard-boiled eggs in fillings is another interesting feature. Linguistics fun facts: the stress in pirozhki is properly placed on the last syllable: [pʲiroʂˈkʲi]. Pirozhok (Russian: пирожок, singular) is the diminutive form of the Russian cognate pirog (Russian: пирог), which refers to a full-sized pie. The Russian plural of this word, pirogi (Russian: пироги, with the stress on the last syllable [pʲiroˈɡʲi]), is not to be confused with pierogi (stress on "o" in English and Polish) in Polish cuisine, which are similar to the Russian pelmeni.
- Blini [blʲinɨ] are thin pancakes made with yeasted batter which are often served in connection with a religious rite or festival. The word "blin" (singular of blini) comes from Old Slavic "mlin", which means "to mill". Blins had a somewhat ritual significance for early Slavic peoples in pre-Christian times since they were a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of the winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun during Maslenitsa (Масленица, Butter Week; also known as Pancake Week). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox Church and is carried on to the present day.

We thank you for traveLING to the Eastern part of Russia with us! We touched upon the a few possible destinations to visit,I hope you enjoyed it. Next we will have lots of fun by exploring landmarks and attractions of other countries of the Eastern Europe. We’ll have lots to do and lots to see, so stay tuned!

Page Updated: 24-Mar-2014