July 01, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside

Baby It's Cold Outside

When i first arrived in Moscow, I couldn’t say much in Russian, but I could talk about the weather. I had mastered phrases like идёт снег (it’s snowing) or на улице ливень (it’s pouring out there), and I could tote them out when required. But, as with so many other topics, it turns out that there’s classroom weather Russian and actual weather Russian. And it’s the latter that you need to know to stay warm and dry, especially in Moscow, where глобальное изменение климата (global climate change) is making a hash of the weather patterns everyone has come to expect.

The first thing to know is the concept of перепад температуры, which any dictionary will helpfully translate as a “drop in temperature.” This is not wrong. A Russian family member or friend, congenitally skeptical of foreigners’ ability to dress appropriately, might say: “Одевайся по-теплее. Ночью был большой перепад температуры.” (Put on something warmer. The temperature really fell overnight.)

But the word is usually used in the plural – перепады – and actually means: sudden, enormous swings in temperature so drastic that you might leave for work in a t-shirt and need to return home in three layers of sweaters you borrowed from your coworkers. “Терпеть не могу эти московские перепады температуры! Температура упала почти на 20 градусов в течение рабочего дня. Вышла в лёгкой куртке, а все уже ходят в шубах.” (I can’t stand these Moscow temperature jumps. The temperature fell by almost 20 degrees during the workday. I went out in a light jacket and everyone was already in fur.)

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