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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Springtime Just Gets This Stuff Flowing

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????? ?? ????: no matter what

Ah, spring. All the brightly colored little Zhigulis that have been buried under winter's snow are once again emerging on the roads, like vibrantly hued crocuses stretching their tender stems upward on sun-warmed hillsides ...

Yeah, right. Even though Russians call cars that have re-emerged after the winter ??????????? (snowdrops), it's hard to wax poetic over those mechanical demons belching black clouds as they putter and sputter to life on the city's highways.

But even the fair-weather traffic jams don't dampen my mood when the sun is shining and the moist, warm air hints of spring. The good weather has everyone jumping. When I told a friend about the crowd of teenagers drinking beer, carousing and flirting in my courtyard until all hours, she laughed and said: ?????! ????? ??????! (It's spring -- the blood is roiling!) This is a much nicer phrase for what we English speakers call "raging hormones."

All of this ???????? ????? got me thinking about blood in Russian, which is more than just the red stuff flowing through your veins. In fact, Russian blood is like a Moscow Art Theater actor: ????? ????? (boils), ?????? (literally "plays"), ?????? (rages), and ?????? (ferments) whenever you are excited or filled with energy and passion.

When you get upset about something, a friend might tell you: ?? ?????! ????? ??????? ???? ?????! (Forget it! Why are you getting yourself riled up -- literally "spoiling your blood"?)

Lately people have taken to describing a kindred spirit as someone who shares the same blood type. ????? ?? ?????????????, ? ????? ?????? -- ?? ????? ?????. (As soon as we met I realized that we were like family, literally "of one blood type.")

When you wish to express the notion that you managed something without much difficulty or harm, you can use the phrase ????? ?????? (with little blood). ?? ?????? ???????? ?????? ????? ??????: ??????? ?????? ????? ???????????. (We resolved the staffing issues without much pain. We only had to fire three people.)

If you want to describe an event that must occur no matter what, you can use the vivid expression ????? ?? ???? (literally "blood from my nose"). ? ??????, ????? ?? ????, ????? ??????? ???????! (I've got to finish the translation today even if it kills me!)

The adverb ?????? is used to describe anything that touches someone deeply. ?? ?????? ?? ??????. (He mortally offended her.) ?? ?????? ?????????????? ? ????????? ???????? ? ??????. (We desperately want to see an improvement of the situation in the country.)

The adjective ??????? can mean "united by blood": ?? ??? ??????? ???????????. (He's a blood relation.) But it can also be used to mean something that is crucial to someone, such as ??????? ??????? (a vital interest). ??????? ?????? -- often just ??????? -- is hard-earned money, i.e., ??????, ???????????? ????? ? ?????? (money earned by sweat and blood). "??????? ???? ???????!" ??? ???? ???????? ??????????? ???????? ????????? ??????????. (Investors who were cheated held a rally under the slogan, "Give us back our hard-earned money!")

And then there are ????????. This can mean a blood relative, but more often you read about ???????? in news from the Caucasus. In this context, ??????? is a sworn enemy, someone you are honor-bound to kill as part of ??????? ????? (a blood feud). ???????? ? ?????? -- ??? ???????? ? ????? ??????. (Maskhadov and Basayev are my sworn enemies and enemies of my people.)

????? can also be used as a synonym for nationality, blood relation, or some special knack or talent. ????? ? ???? ???????. (He's Russian.) ??? ??? ???????? ?? ??? ?????. (How can I abandon him? He's my flesh and blood.) ?? ?????????? ??????. ??? ? ???? ? ?????. (He's a great speaker. It's in his blood.)

Roiling, boiling, raging blood filled with ethnic markers and speaking ability? What does this stuff look like under a microscope?

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.