Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Oksana: [Здравствуйте, меня зовут Оксана ]. Hello, my name is Oksana! Today we’re starting a new series of lessons in which we will learn Russian Idioms, the internal elements of the language, as well as one of the best guides into the Russian’s people mindset, values and beliefs. Now, I’ll introduce you to the first and very popular Russian idiom which has an interesting origin and is widely used by Russian people in everyday life. Here’s the idiom itself!
Oksana: One person says [Ни пуха, ни пера!], and the other answers [К черту!].
Oksana: The English equivalent of this idiom might be “Break a leg!”, and the general meaning is “Good luck!”. If we translate it word for word, it won’t make much sense. “Wish you neither fur, nor feather!” says the one who wishes luck. “Go to Devil!” answers the other one. There is a story behind this popular nonsense. The idiom takes its origin in hunter’s circles. “Fur” in hunter’s language meant “animals”, and “feather” meant “birds”. So, literally, the wish was far opposite from „Good luck!” not to catch any animals or birds while hunting. Why? Because Russian people used to be highly superstitious. They believed that wishing “Good luck!” directly could put an evil eye on the hunters and overlooked the luck. The rule replied “Go to Devil!” should make the hunter safer. The idiom is no longer just hunter’s lingo. [Ни пуха, ни пера!] was wished to students before exams, to job hunters going to interviews and in other situations where one could really use some luck. We can shorten the phrase to just [Ни пуха!], but the answer remains the same [К черту!], literally “To Devil!”.
Oksana: There is an easy grammatical structure worse remembering with this idiom: “neither”- “nor”. Luckily, there is not much to remember and it sounds really simple. [Ни, ни]. So, just put any Russian words do you know after this two [ни] and you’ll get a double negation. For example, [Ни я, ни ты], means „Neither I, nor you.” So, [Ни пуха, ни пера! Пока!].

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RussianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 6:30 pm
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Thanks! Nick job Oksana

Thomas
Sunday at 2:15 pm
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Hi Oksana, good lesson ... enjoy it. But am wondering: Ni pooha, ni pera! ..... why are the two nouns here in Genitiv (it's Genitiv, isn't it?) while the other examples just show Nominativ, e.g. Ni ya, ni ty. ... is there any logic to it?


Thanks in advance for an answer!