Comrade Borodin is a very cultured person
October 11, 2006 7:51 PM   Subscribe

In 1974 Alexander Lipson wrote an excellent Russian language textbook: scanned highlights, complete book. However, its value goes beyond the merely pedagogical. via our very own metafilter udarnik languagehat.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen (24 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
What is decadence? Decadence is to lie on the beach by the Great Blinsk Swamp and watch television. In tuxedos.
posted by Wolof at 8:09 PM on October 11, 2006

[tenderly] ... What happiness!
posted by trip and a half at 8:37 PM on October 11, 2006

Ech, what a crap post. They already printed the lyrics to all the Gang of Four records in the liner notes. I've read 'em a billion times, anyhow.

Actually, this is awesome. I am a young shock-worker!
posted by koeselitz at 8:44 PM on October 11, 2006

Laying on the grass is niekulturno? Learn something new every day.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2006

The site you have attempted to access has been classified as ADULTSEX.

Work firewall 454,000,000,469, metafilter 0.

posted by oxford blue at 9:05 PM on October 11, 2006

Sorry about your ADULTSEX, oxford blue, 'cause this is mind-bendingly awesome. Happiness is to sit by the Great Blinsk Sea and build hydroelectric power stations!

[he weeps]
posted by mr_roboto at 9:38 PM on October 11, 2006

When are we going to bomb the hell out of Schminsk? Those fuckers have it coming. Bezdelniki, every last one of them.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:07 PM on October 11, 2006

Awesome post, btw. Thanks for the freshman-year memories.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:08 PM on October 11, 2006

In a strange coincidence, a friend of mine tells me he went to college with Lipson's daughter. He reports a quirky sense of humour ran in the family, and that Lipson unfortunately died quite young. A little searching through the comments in LH's post reveals that he did much more in the field of Slavic studies, but this is definitely the most accessible for those of us with little or no Russian.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:34 PM on October 11, 2006

Oh . . . Oh my God. Lipson. Lipson.
posted by Anonymous at 11:22 PM on October 11, 2006

Very cool, thanks spleen.

FYI, the (Весь учебник в формате djVu) link at the top of the "complete book" link is the full download and requires a djvu reader from

Seems to be like basically like pdf, though it loads a lot faster.
posted by jjb at 11:23 PM on October 11, 2006

I don't like to conduct myself badly.
God only knows why I conduct myself badly.
I'm not a bad person. [he weeps]

Existential theater!
Thanks, i_am_joe's_spleen and languagehat.
posted by hippugeek at 11:31 PM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

What does our brigade do when we finish working?
We read magazines in the club of the plant.
What do we read about?
We read about concrete.
Which magazines do we read?
The young female concrete-workers read the magazine, "Young Female Concrete-Worker."
The young male concrete-workers read the magazine, "Young Male Concrete-Worker."

The Russian sentences are (hilariously) correct; it's the English versions that bear little resemblance to "English As She is Spoken."
posted by rob511 at 11:50 PM on October 11, 2006

[eto horosho]
posted by graymouser at 4:18 AM on October 12, 2006

Do you remember old Doctor Gubkin?
Of course I remember him.
Everybody remembers old Doctor Gubkin.
He is both a philosopher and a writer and a great enthusiast.
Nobody works as much as old Doctor Gubkin.
That man is a real enthusiast.

Do you remember my golden apple?
Of course I remember it.
Everybody remembers your golden apple.
That apple is not a real fruit.

As I said in my post, I would have learned Russian much better in college if I'd had this book. It's as if Daniil Kharms wrote a language textbook. (In fact, I see now that in that thread I wrote: "His stories are like little exercises for language students, full of repetitions and simple dialogue, except that people keep dying and going mad and disappearing.")
posted by languagehat at 6:35 AM on October 12, 2006

jjb: Спасибо болшое! Я не увидел...
posted by claudius at 6:56 AM on October 12, 2006

why don't you have to have a yazik after the ruskii in the lead sentence (ili kak amerikanstsi uchat ruskii)? I was taught that when referring to the language it always had to be followed by yazik. Is it a colloquial vs. grammatically correct issue?
posted by spicynuts at 7:38 AM on October 12, 2006

It's standard spoken/colloquial Russian. I just ran across this in Solzhenitsyn: "кроме него никто ж китайского не знает" [he's the only one who knows Chinese].
posted by languagehat at 10:10 AM on October 12, 2006

Wow, am I glad to see this. I'm going to go have it printed tomorrow.
posted by fake at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2006

I saw the word "Tape" a time or two.. was there originally audio accompanying this book?
posted by fake at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2006

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a shock worker.
posted by Sparx at 2:25 PM on October 12, 2006

Brilliant! This certainly would've livened up my class (instead we read about unscrupulous flirtatious Russian women and clueless American boys...)
posted by somethingotherthan at 6:30 PM on October 12, 2006

This is by far, far, far the best language book I have ever seen. This man is a genius. It is so oddly bizzare, pithy, and hilarious that I can't stop laughing. And I am talking tears-in-my-eyes-I-can't-stop type of laughing.

This is the best thing I have seen on Metafilter since I've joined. Awesome, awesome stuff. Bol'shoe spasibo, languagehat i i_am_joe's_spleen.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2006

This reminds me of a wonderful book I picked up in a secondhand bookshop a few years ago, Octobriata: Primer for Anglo-American Schools in the U.S.S.R. by S. Ritzlin and S. Hollander (Moscow, 1932):

How busy we are!
We are making banners for Red October day.
The banners are finished.
We are taking them to the workers.

Ting-a-ling, there goes the lunch bell.
There come our hungry comrades.
How good the hot soup smells!
It will keep us warm the rest of the day.
After a hot lunch, children can work much better.
Do workers' children in America get hot lunches in school?
Do workers' children in England get hot lunches in school?

(And my personal favourite:)

We work on X-mas Day.
X-mas is not a workers' holiday.
Communists do not celebrate X-mas.
Komsomols do not celebrate X-mas.
Pioneers and Octobriata do not celebrate X-mas.
Down with X-mas!

(I'd like to know more about these 'Anglo-American Schools': can anyone tell me anything about them? It looks as though they must have been intended for the children of British or American parents working in the Soviet Union, as all the Young Pioneers in the book have names like John, Nancy, Betty and Fanny, which makes the whole thing even more surreal.)
posted by verstegan at 3:44 PM on October 13, 2006

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