Welcome back to DeepRussian.net issues!

Today we'll talk about the shift in word meaning which happens by someone's mistake, which, in turn, is being cloned by mass media. This article was inspired by news appeared today in multiple places.

The news was about Moscow's metro system. First, some brief information about it. Moscow metro's modern topology is quite straightforward: there is one circle line; the rest lines, which are more or less straight, cross that centrally located cycle.

Moscow metro map

There are also permanent plans to build up one or two new circle lines. The news I'm talking here is just about that.

So, let's go to news lines appeared on 21st February 2011.

Москва начинает строительство третьего радиуса метро Интерфакс 12:58
Столичные власти начинают строительство нового контура метро - от "Авиамоторной... NEWSru.com 15:25
В Москве началось строительство третьего радиуса метро Irn.ru 15:01
Станции метро избавят от перегрузок Дни.ру 14:56
Новому кольцу в метро дали зеленый свет Утро.ru 14:56
В столице начинается работа над третьим радиусом метро BFM.ru 14:28
Инициировано строительство третьего радиуса мосметро Взгляд.ру 14:09
В Москве начали строить новый радиус метро Lenta.ru 13:40
На "Планерной" развязали транспортный узел. В будущем в Москве построят еще 40 ... Известия 13:24
В Москве начинается строительство третьего радиуса метро REGNUM 13:22
От "Авиамоторной" начнут строить третий радиус московского метро GZT.RU 13:16
В Москве начали строить третий контур метро РБК 13:15
Работы по стройке III радиуса метро начинаются в Москве РИАН Недвижимость 12:47
Кузьмин: в Москве начинаются работы по созданию третьего радиуса метро РИА Новости 12:46
В метро начинают строить третий радиус - от станции "Авиамоторная" - главный ... ИТАР-ТАСС 12:45

As you may notice, most of these headlines say about opening of the third radius of Moscow's metro (третий радиус Московского метро).

Comparing that with a real map of Moscow's metro, you may notice that there are really more than three radiuses there. All the lines crossing the circle ones are called radial lines.

So, what was really meant by all those news?

Actually, it is not that easy to answer even for a native speaker. Having the news ordered by publishing time, it seems that the source of this confusion was based on the words of metro representative, whose quote is available in early articles:

«Мы начинаем строить новый третий радиус, от станции «Авиамоторная» в зону Кожухово, а дальше в зону Люберецких полей. Мы сегодня получили добро на первый участок третьего контура метрополитена, чтобы разгружать не только хвосты — дальние районы, но и снять нагрузку в центре», — сказал Кузьмин. (ИТАР-ТАСС)

«Мы начинаем строить новый, третий радиус, от станции «Авиамоторная» в зону Кожухово, а дальше в зону Люберецких полей. Мы сегодня получили добро на первый участок третьего контура метрополитена, чтобы разгружать не только хвосты — дальние районы, но и снять нагрузку в центре», — сказал Кузьмин. (РИА Новости)

Having two absolutely identical passages, we can assume that it is either exact quotation or copying from a third place. It has no practical meaning for us now.

News articles also mention that that new line is really a circled one, which makes everything clearer, as there are plans for building a second circle line, part of which is already operating for years.

Let's recap the words which may be used for describing metro lines:

кольцо — circle

радиус — radius

диаметр — diameter

хорда — chord

контур — contour

All of them are used for talking about Moscow's metro as well. What we see in today's news is occasional shift in meaning, when what is named by радиус really means кольцо.

Ad hoc explanation of that strange shift may be the following. Both радиус and контур are part of professional slang and suddenly appeared in the interview. I have no idea how that line is really called among metro people, but in public use it can only be кольцо or хорда. As it was said about the third radius, and there are already one full circle and the part of the second one, that may stand for the third circle line, or short: the third circle.

Thus, radius in this particular case means circle. Weird, incorrect, but used in multiple articles just in one day.

By the way, the meaning of radius itself is already shifted, as all the lines crossing the circle one are not really radiuses: they do not start in the centre, but rather cross it and go further. Diameter would be more correct word for that :-)

An announcement about the station in metro

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Listen to what you may hear in the carriage of metro train in Moscow:  .

Here is a full transcription: Станция Багратионовская. Уважаемые пассажиры, при выходе из поезда не забывайте свои вещи.

There are two parts in the message. Let's analyze them separately. The first sentence is about the next station (this announcement is played before the train arrives to the station). The second one is a reminder not to forget your belongings (usually played not at every station, once per two stations or more seldom).

So, the first sentence. Станция Багратионовская (station Bagationovskaya). It is so simple: just say the word ‘station’ followed by the name of the station. Both words are in nominative case.

Unlike English, the first noun here does not become an attribute of the second. Just two words, a noun and the name (personal noun). Such a construction often happens when you point to something, or name it. For example, you may say: город Москва (literary: city Moscow), or улица Сагайдачного (street of Sagaidachny). Note that in the case with naming a street you have to think whether to put the word ‘street’ before or after the name itself (although in formal language putting it always before is OK).

The second phrase. Уважаемые пассажиры, при выходе из поезда не забывайте свои вещи (Dear passengers, when leaving the train do not forget your belongings). It definitely is more complex than the first one, but it can be split into three shorter parts for better understanding.

Уважаемые пассажиры (Dear passengers) is a form of addressing to people. Note that both adjective уважаемые and a noun пассажиры are in plural. Note also that the plural form in Russian does not distinguish male and female.

При выходе из поезда (when leaving the train). Here the speaker specifies the moment for which the next part of the announcement is applicable. This half of the second part of the sentence may be put both to the beginning of to the end: не забывайте свои вещи при выходе из вагона is also correct. Literary при выходе means ‘during the exit’. You may also use an adverb выходя (exiting) instead: выходя из вагона.

Не забывайте свои вещи (do not forget your belongings). Nothing difficult here, maybe except the personal pronoun свои. In Russian you say this word when you refer to something that someone's own when you speak to that person. Thus an English phrase ‘take your stuff‘ is converted into Russian возьми свои вещи, not возьми твои вещи.


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The word открытие (opening) has two distinct meanings in Russian. First, it is a process of making something open. Second, it is a discovery.

Открытие might often be seen if its first meaning on the doors and windows of new shops, which are going to launch soon. Here is an example:


Photo: Moscow, Novinsky boulevard, 5th of September, 2009.

The phrase скоро открытие literary means “opening soon”, with a difference that an adverb скоро (soon) looks better when it stands in the beginning of a phrase.

Another example of the same usage:


Photo: Ryazan, 5th of March, 2006.

Here we see the words Праздничное открытие (festival opening) in the middle part of the sign (in black). In fact, this is not too correct Russian, as I'd probably say Торжественное открытие (grand opening) to express the same meaning. The word праздничное supposes that an opening is either a kind of a holiday or at least coincides in dates with any existing holiday. Торжественное would be more appropriate in that case because they probably only meant that the opening would be a ceremony. Just a ceremony, not a holiday.

And finally, yet another picture from the streets of Moscow with our today's word. It was placed on the side wall of a building and it was not obvious what they were going to launch.

opening3.jpgPhoto: Moscow, New Arbat, 5th of September 2009.

In reality it was not any launching, it was just the name of a commercial bank an a financial corporation.

Bakery and food

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This auxiliary label was found on the window of one of the food shops.


Photo: Moscow, New Arbat, 4th of September 2009.

Let's get deep into these three words. These are КОНДИТЕРСКАЯ, БУЛОЧНАЯ and ГАСТРОНОМИЯ. To avoid following that bad style of capitalizing everything, I will use lower cases where it is applicable from now on.

So. Кондитерская is translated as confectioner's. If you'll look into the dictionary, you will find that this word is both an adjective and a noun. In the usage shown above it is a noun.

The second word булочная means the bakery. It also may be considered in some seldom occasions as an adjective, but here it is a noun.

And the third word гастрономия is groceries, or just food. This is a noun only.

As you could notice, each word ends with . But this fact alone gives nothing about the grammatical category of the words. We need to consider two letters in the endings of these words. For the first two ones they are -ая, and for the third one -ия.

The ending -ая usually indicates that a word is an adjective, and more precisely—feminine adjective. Compare, for instance, красная (she) red, or высокая (she) tall. In Russian, there is a category of adjectives which may be used as nouns. These two words are the examples. Being grammatically adjectives, the words change their form according to the rules for adjectives, even if used in a sentence as nouns.

With the word кондитерская as an adjective you may expect to encounter it preferably in plural form when someone says about the final production, for example: кондитерские изделия (plural: confectionery, literary: confectionery items). Single form is normally used when referring to things which take part in the process of creation, for example: кондитерская фабрика (confectionery plant) or кондитерская промышленность (confectionery industry).

The word булочная, which is of dual nature as well, might be used as an adjective even to refer to the baker's shop as well. Thus you may say both булочная (noun: bakery) and булочная лавка (adjective: bakery small shop). Not that in both cases the form of the word remains the same, while its grammatical category changes. An adjective is often used in a compound word хлебобулочная (literary: of bread and of bakery), for instance: хлебобулочная промышленность (bakery industry).

And finally, another ending, -ия, indicates a feminine noun. Compare the word химия (chemistry), which has this ending as well. Гастрономия is also a common word for referring to a department in a store, where they sell food. There exists a single word гастроном (food shop).

All those three words on the photo can be used separately, for example they are used as generic names of the food shops (each one specifying the type of food you may buy there). Note also that the lack of punctuation and small letters converts the three separate words into grammatically correct (but having no meaning) phrase «кондитерская булочная гастрономия» (confectionary bakery groceries), where only the last word is a noun, and the first two ones are its attributes (attributes are then adjectives).

‘Working hours’ sign

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The sign at the entrance of any shop usually contains the information about working hours of that place.

This is how a typical sigh looks like.



Photo: Moscow, New Arbat, 3rd of September 2009.

(Click the image to enlarge it.)

What we see here first is the title ЧАСЫ РАБОТЫ (Working hours). Literary it means “Hours of work”, the phrase contains two words: часы — plural form of час (hour) and работы — genitive of работа (work). Don't be confused that this genitive form coinsides with the plural form of работа (work) in the nominative.

It is followed by the time interval from 9 a. m. to 11 p. m. These refer to Monday through Friday, as the next two lines specify the working hours for the weekend days: СУББОТА Saturday and ВОСКРЕСЕНЬЕ Sunday.

Generally we do not use any kind of “a. m.” or “p. m.” notes after hours, and official signs tend to use 24-hour format. Although 12-hour format is very common in colloquial language, when you either use 12-hour scale if it is obvious of what half of the day people are talking about, or mention literary “of morning”, “of evening”, etc. For example, 9 a. m. would be 9 утра, and 11 p. m. — 11 вечера.

Here are the names of week days in Russian:

понедельник Monday
вторник Tuesday
среда Wednesday
четверг Thursday
пятница Friday
суббота Saturday
воскресенье Sunday

Shortened form of the names are often used:

пн — понедельник
вт — вторник
ср — среда
чт — четверг
пт — пятница
сб — суббота
вс — воскресенье

A week always starts from Monday.

I'd like to put a special attentional to the fact that you will encounter capital letters on most signs. It is not a normal usage of the language, and that form of making the text look stronger comes from the time of mechanical typewriters and teletypes, where the number of opportunities to change the view of text was very limited. Correct form of the above fragments are Часы работы, Суббота and Воскресенье. The last two words may have a capital letter in the beginning only when they start the sentence, as Russian does not capitalize the names of days and months.

Note that there are different variants of presenting the timetable.

What is it about?

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This is a blog of one author. The blog is devoted totally to learning Russian language.

Russian is a language used in Russia :-) In addition to this obvious fact you might know that the language is, according to Wikipedia, an official language in 13 countries. And it also is widely used in several other countries, mostly in the territory of the former USSR.

Elderly people in the countries which belonged to the Soviet world used to learn Russian at school. When I was in Albania, I met a number of people who learned it either, or whose parents were in close relation to Russian language at their job.

Russian is my native tongue, so I may assure you that all the Russian you meet here on this website is correct. Please don't be confused by possible mistakes, erros and typos in English explanations and don't hesitage to correct me in that. I also understand Ukrainian and some Belarusian, and am in the process of learning German and Italian currently.

Russian language is one of those which does not have dialects gone too far from each other. That means that if you speak any Russian, you will be clearly understood in any part of the country. There are multiple regional variants of how to pronunce vowels, or how to stress words, or even which word to chose for particular things, but in general those differencies are non significant and are vanishingly small.

I live in Moscow, the capital of Russia, and the sounds used here tend to be more open and long. People from internal parts of the continent, rather, speak a bit closer to what is written. And yes, Russian is a language where you don't need to learn rules of reading. As soon as you become recognize the letters, you can read. Almost as easy like in Finnish, for example. Although there are no way to learn out from written text which syllable is under the stress: you always have to remember it or have to consult the dictionary (but don't be afraid: often it is possible to spread the knowledge of the stressing in words already been learned).

In this blog I would like to make two types of postings. The first one is a series of signs and labels which you may encounter with in the city. The other one will be about the language itself, its grammar and structure. Your feedback in the comments here or direct to my e-mail address mail@andy.sh will be very helpful.

Good luck with learning Russian.

Andrew Shitov.