March 01, 2004

Flirting, Courting and Saying it Right

Flirting, Courting and Saying it Right

March 8 (Восьмое марта) known as International Women’s Day, is the Russian equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day (День Святого Валентина), except that presents (подарки) and compliments (комплименты) go only one way – from the citizens of Mars (Марс) to those of Venus (Венера).

Actually, for men, March 8 is a good day to appease the notorious heroine of Russian jokes – the тёща (a husband’s mother-in-law), along with other Venetians, by lavishing her with your attentions (оказывать знаки внимания). But interacting with the opposite sex (противоположный пол) in a foreign language can be tricky. So here’s a crib sheet for interplanetary communication.

On March 8, Russian men take their sweethearts on a date (свидание). Be careful, however, when transculturating the more direct English invitation, “Do you want to go on a date?” Russians tend to be more obtuse and avoid the word “date” by using invitation patterns such as: “Пойдём куда-нибудь сегодня вечером?” (“Shall we go somewhere tonight?”) “Ты пойдёшь со мной на вечеринку?” (“Would you like to come to the party with me?), “Я хотел (хотела) пригласить тебя в кино.” (“I would like to invite you to the movies”), etc.

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