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

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20 February 2013

English Language and Etiquette for Russians

Given that the тираж is pretty скромный,
 I would advise rushing out to get your copy сразу.
A friend of mine, Professor Oksana Danchevskaya of the Moscow Pedagogical University, has recently published a book which I think will be of great interest to every Russian who follows this blog. It is called English for Cross-Cultural and Professional Communication.
     The format is unusual for Russian books of this sort in that it is not a text-book with lists of rules to be memorised. Rather it follows my ideas about learning English—maybe other languages require different approaches—in that it works by examples. English, as I cannot repeat often enough, is a language with customs rather than rules, and so requires practice rather than drill to master it.
     Oksana’s book is organised around thirteen texts, which are all taken from the real world—advertising brochures, newspaper articles, and so on—and are accompanied by exercises, vocabulary lists and some specialised translations into Russian of unusual words or phrases. 
     The choice of subjects is unconventional too. One covers cheating in university exams, another the etiquette of office life and a third the cultural value of language in general. This is very different from the drivelling artificiality of the general run of books (usually at ten times the price of this one) which purport to teach so-called business English.
     At the end of the book, Oksana even describes the “correct” way to lay tables for formal and informal dining. This will be useful to students who intend entertaining Americans of the more prescriptively Protestant sort, or those with particular social insecurities. In Britain, etiquette is, like the English language, a matter of custom rather than rules and, as such, varies from home to home.
     A CD is included with the book, and this will be highly useful for all who wish to improve their pronunciation, and to practice listening to a variety of different accents in English, which due to the lack of rules of speech can be a matter of serious difficulty to foreigners, especially in places like Glasgow, Belfast or Brixton. I myself, as a native Scot who once had relatives in the Northern Isles, remember visiting Shetland ten years ago and not being able to understand more than half of what the deck-hand on the Yell ferry said to me while we chatted on the twenty-minute crossing. So Russians should not комплексовать on this matter.
     Oksana’s book was published just a month ago and should be available in all the main bookshops in Moscow, or through Ozon.ru. For advanced level students who wish to get to know something of the cultural environment of English while learning the language, this book is a must.


  1. Thanks for recommendation, Ian!

    btw, I think you should have used комплексовать instead of комплексировать. I wanted to say what "комплексировать" does not exist, but fortunately looked it up in the dictionary. It does exist (although I never heard it), but have completely different meaning - more like "combine things".

  2. "i would advice?" I've always thought the verb is "advise".

    Thank you for the brilliant blog. I dare say the English speaking nations would benefit from it as much, if not more, than the Russians.

    1. Ooops! Mistake (you are quite right, I simply did not notice) now corrected. Thank you.

  3. It's not an unusual format, Ian :) It does look like one of many this kind.
    Oh, so Oksana gives advice on laying tables? How sweet! Cheeky Russians who want to sneak into British upper-class have to know that, that's for sure! :)

    And to listen to different accents I would rather recommend watching the infamous 'Hollyoaks' rather than spending money on the book:)