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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

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27 February 2012


The Voice of Russia continues to take an unusual position on current affairs. A correspondent alerted this blog to an item posted yesterday on the station’s website, entitled Farewell to Political Winter. It mainly described the anti-Putin protest staged in Moscow last Sunday, in the course of which tens of thousands of protesters wearing white ribbons and other white garments made a ring round the Kremlin by standing shoulder to shoulder all round the 16-kilometre Garden Ring road. This was known as the White Ring, and was described by the Moscow Times in these terms:
“It was a festive atmosphere, and its success may provide a boost for the opposition's plans for further demonstrations after the March 4 election. People smiled and spoke with strangers or wore home-made costumes (see post 21 February, Common Mistakes #2), like pensioner Tatyana Kulyagina, 59, who came in a hat she had made herself with models of a riot policeman and Vladimir Putin and others perched on top. ’It has been much more successful than I expected,’ said Alexander, a member of the Solidarnost opposition movement as he handed out white ribbons near Tsvetnoi Bulvar. ‘I expected far fewer people. It is a wonderful atmosphere.’”   
     The Voice of Russia had a different take. This is an edited excerpt from the story (full text at http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_02_26/66956473/ ):
“The riot’s participants did not manage to cover the whole Garden Ring… As far as the riot had not been sanctioned by the authorities, the participants did not chant any slogans. Some people on cars who were driving by expressed their solidarity with the rioters with signals of their cars’ horn, and the rioters answered with whistles. An 18-year old girl called Olga says that she came to this riot because she had learned about it from the Web… ‘I realised from what I saw that the [December] election results were falsified. What I felt of this can be qualified as nausea. After that, I became interested in politics. I believe that if you don’t support the current authorities, it is your duty to take part in riots of protest…’ Participants of the other riot, called ‘Farewell to political winter’, were probably more passionate, though also not aggressive. The riot was organised by a movement called the Left Front. This Sunday, many Muscovites were celebrating Shrovetide. In Russia, Shrovetide traditionally is the holiday of parting with winter and welcoming spring. That is why the riot’s organisers named it ‘Farewell to the political winter’. Like the White Ring, this riot has not been sanctioned by the authorities either, but its organisers ignored the ban. The place where the riot was to take place, the Revolution Square in Moscow’s centre, was encircled by so many police cordons that only a small space which could hardly hold 1,000 people was left to the rioters.”
     The motto of the story of these two stories is surely UTFD—a variation on RTFI. Every Do-It-Yourself enthusiast who has erected his flat-pack shelf unit upside down, or assembled a new mirror with the glass facing the wall, knows that before starting work you should Read The Fucking Instructions. In the case of Russian web editors, when it comes to English-language texts, the same idea ought to be adopted only with the words Use and Dictionary substituted for Read and Instructions. UTFD, товарищи!

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