What this blog is for and about

I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

Remember: all pictures can be expanded to full page size by clicking on them.


09 February 2012

Common mistakes #1: "In the nearest future"

The previous post ends “in the near future”—which reminds me of a mistake that Russian speakers of English often make. They translate “в ближайшем будущем” as “in the nearest future”. Judging by how often I hear that phrase, the Russian equivalent must be popular. I even heard the presenter of the new English lessons programme on the Культура channel on the television use it last night. But there is no such English expression. Better to say: in the near future, very soon, or shortly, depending on the context.
     Russian is interesting in its rather “un-English” use of tenses and time, a subject I will return to. Right now, I am reminded of a comment on this subject made by one of the best-known speakers of Russian from Britain, Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart. Bruce Lockhart was Consul in Moscow at the time of the Revolution. He was a natural linguist, and a great lover of Russia. In his six years here, he acquired a nearly flawless command of the language, on occasion even interpreting for Trostsky. Yet in his book, Memoirs of a British Agent (1932, but  a classic which is still in print), he modestly comments: “I confess I never fully mastered the nuances of a language in which the word for ‘now’ means ‘later’ and the word for ‘tomorrow’ means ‘never’.”
     Your can listen to a radio broadcast I did about Bruce Lockhart on the Voice of Russia at this link:  http://english.ruvr.ru/radio_broadcast/28742746/38207054.html