April 29, 2016

Do I Really Need Idioms? Yes, You Do!

Do I Really Need Idioms? Yes, You Do! 1

Russian idioms

Common Russian idioms still sound foreign to you? You are not sure when it’s time to learn them and how to approach them?

There are tons of idiomatic expressions in Russian, and some are more common than others. Russian love idioms and use them all the time because the idioms make Russian speech more expressive: they add emotions and convey a specific attitude to the subject.

It’s important to recognize Russian idioms and understand their meaning when you read or listen in Russian. It becomes absolutely essential to learn common Russian idioms when you move up to the higher levels at the ILR scale (Level 3 and up) and need to understand the tone of the text. Idioms could often be your only hint about the author’s attitude.

Two Russian styles of speech are especially heavily idiomatic: a colloquial style and a high register style, so the majority of Russian idioms will be either colloquial or of Biblical and ancient origin (higher styles).

While recognizing and understanding idioms is the first step, it’s even better when you can use at least some of them in your own speech. Learning common Russian idioms will add to your range of expressions so you could sound more like a native. Using at least one good idiom in the proper context can impress your tester on a speaking proficiency interview and help A LOT with your rating.

However, when you will start using them, always pay attention to the context of the conversation and check with native speakers if that’s the way they would use those idioms.

One of the places where you will probably least expect colloquial idioms – and where you can find A LOT of them – is media.

Here are 5 idioms from just one editorial (in blue):

Застать врасплох кого (разг.) –  застать кого-л. где-л. неожиданно, когда он к этому не готов; to catch one off guard. Как и в ситуации с Крымом, с операцией в Сирии Путин застал США врасплох.

Дойная корова (разг., ирон.) – обильный и безотказный источник материальных благ, дохода; meal ticket, a cash cow. Нашему народу выгодно изменение нынешнего уклада, т. к. в этом случае мы перестанем быть “дойной коровой” Запада.

Не чета кому (разг.) –  при сравнении: о том, кто/что значительно выше по своим достоинствам, качествам, чем кто-либо/что-либо;  one completely outclasses the other, one is completely above the other. У Азарова есть результаты деятельности, на посту премьера Украины он не чета Яценюку.

Менять шило на мыло (разг., шутл.) – менять плохое на худшее, out of the frying pan into the fire.  Азаров – такая же марионетка Запада. Ставить его сейчас на место Яценюка – менять шило на мыло.

Идти на поводу у кого – подчиняясь чужой воле, быть в полной зависимости у кого-л., blindly or mechanically follow a leader.  Янукович с Азаровым пошли на поводу у Нуланд и позволили Западу под видом демократических реформ провести цветную революцию.

Thank you for reading and learning Russian.


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