November 01, 2012

Friend or Foe?

Friend or Foe?

This fall, U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney termed Russia America’s “main geopolitical foe” – «геополити́ческий враг но́мер оди́н». Whatever the outcome of the election may be (this was signed to press on October 15), the comment offers an excellent pretext for a discussion of friends and enemies.

Russian is not short of words for “enemy” – such as вражи́на. There are also a couple of words meaning adversary: неприя́тель (a term that dates from Generalissimo Suvorov’s time) or the more folksy супоста́т. Other derivatives from враг include вражда́ (hostility) and вражде́бность (animosity).

There are also important enemy-related proverbs: Е́сли хо́чешь врага́ нажи́ть, так дай в долг де́нег! (If you want to make someone an enemy, lend him money) and За́втрак съешь оди́н, обе́д раздели́ с дру́гом, а у́жин отда́й врагу́ (Eat your breakfast alone, share your lunch with a friend and give your dinner to an enemy).

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