I realize that I use a lot of foreign words. Rather than my constant clarification, here’s a bit of a guide to some of the most common ones.

batkivshchyna (Ukrainian): Motherland/Fatherland. In a sense, “Parent-land.” Refers, obviously, to Ukraine.

Bayern Ticket (German): Probably singlehandedly the best part of my year in Germany, the Bayern ticket was a special deal by which up to 5 people could take all regional trains within Bavaria for an entire day (from midnight on Saturdays and Sundays, after 9 am on weekdays) for 28 Euros.

beshik to’yi (Uzbek): a celebration for the birth of a new child, generally sometime shortly after the child makes it to 40 days. Beshik means cradle, and traditionally, the new mother’s parents present the newborn with a traditional cradle, among other, generally quite lavish gifts.

blat (Russian): a word that connotes connections and getting things through them. Blat is a currency system of favors and connections. The adjectival form, blatnoi, is also common.

bog’ (Uzbek, Tajik: bogh): garden, yard.

Burg (German): castle.

dasturxon (Uzbek): tablecloth. Generally placed on a raised bed-frame like platform, with kurpachas all around, so that you sit on the same level as your food. Inside a home, these are placed on the floor.

döner (Turkish-ish): The standard German-Turkish sandwich eaten all over Europe, although really more a Berlin specialty than authentically Turkish.

dvor (Russian): courtyard, generally within an apartment complex. See also hovli.

Eiskaffee (German): Coffee and ice cream, together. Amazing.

EM (German): Europameisterschaft. European (Football/Soccer) Cup.

Feiertag (German): Holiday.

Gipfel (German): Peak (of a mountain).

Gipfelkreuz (German): Peak cross, the standard marker of any peak in Germany, and in much of the historically Christian world, for that matter.

Glühwein (German): hot, spiced wine.

grenki (Russian): (usually Russian black) bread fried with garlic and herbs. A perfect beer complement.

Hauptbahnhof (German): main train station.

hovli (Uzbek): courtyard. The “inside” of a one-story home, generally filled with a table for eating, a place for cooking, and a large garden.

Kaffee und Kuchen (German): Literally, Coffee and Cake. The German midafternoon snack of coffee and cake, only the best of all German traditions.

khoziaika (Russian): because official transliteration looks so weird, I am sometimes inclined towards spelling it in other ways (or even just leaving it in the Cyrillic хозяйка), this is a relatively untranslatable Russian word that encompasses the meaning hostess, landlady, and, in some instances, is used to describe a host-mother. It’s wealth of meanings has often proven very useful, as when used in the context of a homestay of some sort, there is a wide range of possible experiences, from the extremely warm, loving kind to the strictly professional (my past experiences have tended towards the latter).

kelin (Uzbek): bride or daughter-in-law. In (at least southern) Central Asia, this is the person on whom almost all of the household duties fall. In extreme cases, her job is not unlike that of a slave.

Kiste (German): Crate, a unit for purchasing beers. 20 half-liter bottles.

kolkhoz (Russian): short for kollektivnoe khoziaistvo. Collective farm, a Soviet institution.

kompot (Russian): A Russian version of juice, by which fruits are boiled in water and sugar. Served cold.

kumis (Kazakh): A Kazakh national drink. Fermented mare’s milk that tastes like a cross between lemons and smoke. It’s weird.

kurpacha (Uzbek): a cross between a mattress and a cushion.

kupe (Russian): From the French, the second class on Russian trains, comprised of four-person compartments that are closed, with a hallway that connects individual compartments. Generally costs approximately twice the price of a platskartnyi ticket.

lag’mon (Uzbek; also lagman): a (usually freshly made) noodle dish, linguistically related to lo mien, served usually in a soup-like form. A standard of Central Asian cuisine, particularly in Uighurstan (Western China).

mal sehen (German): We’ll see.

manti (fairly universal in post-Soviet languages): large dumplings, usually filled with spiced meat, although a pumpkin variant, among others, is also possible. Served pretty much throughout the former Soviet Union, although mostly a Central Asian (and Caucasian) dish.

marshrutka (Russian): microbus, a private form of transportation that generally costs slightly more than buses. Used for both within and between cities.

Maß (German): the one-liter size of beer. A requisite for all German festivals.

nikoh to’yi (Uzbek): wedding.

Oberbayern (German): upper Bavaria—the south part of the region, in the Alps.

oblast (Russian): region.

platskartnyi (Russian): Taken from German (seat-card), this is the lowest class in most Russian long distance trains. To travel platskartnyi is to ride in an open compartment, in which beds are organized in sets of six. See kupe.

paket (Russian): plastic bag.

pelmeni (Russian): Siberia’s answer to tortellini.

Pfand (German): deposit. Paid on most plastic bottles.

plov (Russian; Uzbek: palav or osh): a standard Central Asian rice dish prepared throughout the former Soviet Union. Although highly regionally variable, standardly made with meat, carrots, onions, and an assortment of spices.

Prost! (German): Cheers. Also Prosit, but that’s usually only at Oktoberfest and among snobby wine drinkers.

qishloq (Uzbek; Kazakh: qishlaq): village.

Rathaus (German): city hall.

remont (Russian): repair/renovation. Commonly used by Russian-speaking foreigners in the phrase “under remont.

rodina (Russian): motherland.

Schloss (German): Palace.

Schönes Wochenende (German): “Beautiful weekend.” Like the Bayern Ticket, this is a train ticket valid for one day for up to five people for all regional trains throughout Germany on either a Saturday or Sunday. For my year in Germany, this was a 37€ ticket.

shakarob (generally Central Asian): A salad involving tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.

shashlyk (Russian): meat on a stick, cooked over a flame. Originally from the Caucasus, pretty much a staple throughout the former Soviet Union, especially in summer.

somsa (Uzbek; Tajik: sombusa): a filled, savory pastry, generally with a mixture of meat and onions, although pumpkin and other variants are also possible.

to’y (Uzbek): celebration. These come in three forms: a beshik to’yi for the birth of a first-born child; sunnat to’yi for the circumcision of a male child (I believe around eight years old, too–that’s gotta hurt!); and the most common, nikoh to’yi, a wedding.

typish (German): typical.

unterwegs (German): on the road. And yes, this is how On the Road is translated.

varenyky (Ukrainian; also vareniki (Russian)): A Ukrainian version of pierogi. Most classically, with potatoes, and served with fried onions and sour cream.

vatan (Uzbek, Turkish, Tajik, etc.): homeland/fatherland.

Vaterland (German): Fatherland.

Vor allem (German): above all.

vyshyvanka (Ukrainian): embroidered shirt.

WM (German): Weltmeisterschaft. World Cup (football/soccer).


2 thoughts on “Glossary

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