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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Harvesting the Fruit of Your Labor

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???? ? ?????: It's in the bag

When I heard a Russian official announce that Russia might place nuclear weapons in Belarus, I did a double take. First reaction: Check the calendar and make sure it's 2007 and not 1977. Second reaction: Figure out how to wangle my way into the next Group of Eight meeting so I can scream ?? ??? -- ???????, ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ????????! (Are you guys nuts? What on earth are you doing?!)

But then a few days later another official announced ?? ??? ??????????? ?????? (You misunderstood us.) Well, that's certainly a relief.

Instead of worrying about an arms race, I can worry about a nice little phrase that came up in the apparently moot discussion of the nonplacement of nuclear weapons in Belarus: ??? ??? ?????, ????????? ????? ? ???????? (literally, One way or another, Lukashenko will be in chocolate.) When things are in chocolate, the things are usually nuts or dried fruit, like ????????? ? ???????? (chocolate-covered prunes). But the phrase ???? ? ???????? (literally, "to be in chocolate") seems to be a relatively new expression that means "to be rolling in clover," i.e., to be in a good situation, usually in the sense of having lots of money or other wealth.

I personally aspire to being in chocolate. To reach this sticky state of sweet abundance, first you have to cut a good deal. ????? ???????? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ? ???? ? ?????. (We just have to get one more signature and then the deal is in the bag -- literally, "in the hat.") The next step toward success is hiring a good staff. ??? ?????? ?? ?????? ?????? ????????? ?? ?????, ???? ?????. (As soon as we hired a new sales manager, business took off.)

When you're looking for a good manager, you want someone who's light-handed in Russian: ????? ?? ????. This should not be confused with someone who is light-fingered in English. You don't want a crook; you want someone who has a light touch for business. This is similar to the notion of a dab hand in English: someone who is an expert, who literally "touches things gently." ???????? ??? ? ???? -- ? ???? ?????? ????. (You ought to hire him -- he's a dab hand at this.)

Another person you might hire is someone described as ?? ???????, ? ?????? (literally, "not a man, but gold.") If this person shows up for an interview, get out your pen to sign on the dotted line. ???? ???????? -- ??????? ???????: ?? ??? ?? ?????????, ???? ? ???? ??? ? ?????. (Ivan Ivanovich has the Midas touch: Whatever he puts his hand to turns out to be a winner; literally, "starts boiling.")

Here's another talent you might also wish for in a business partner: Someone who makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The Russian version of this expression is a bit earthier and highly expressive: ??????? ?? ?????? ???????? (literally, "to make a candy out of crap.") ???????? is any kind of good job or great success, although it usually refers to a result of effort and skill, not the process itself. ????? ??????? ?? ???????? ????? ??? ????????! (After remodeling, their apartment is just a gem!)

When something is done really well, you can say it's done ?? ??? (literally, "to a hurrah.") ???? ?????-??????????? ?????? ?? ???. (Our press conference was a grand slam.) When a lot of things are done to cheers, hopefully your business will start to turn a profit and you can begin to rake it in. This is ???????? ????? -- literally, to harvest the fruits (of one's labor).

So the key to success in Russia is: Turn yourself into a solid gold, chocolate-covered candy, surrounded by bushels of fruit. This is much nicer than hosting nuclear weapons.

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