Russian Language Journal


Russians, life, language


Now in its fourth edition (first published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1974), Gerhart’s and Boyle’s encyclopedic catalogue of “common knowledge” among “Russians” is a classic; readers of this review likely have at least one well-worn edition of The Russian’s World on their bookshelf. Where else under one cover can one find the rules for “gorodki” (240–1), a guide to (Soviet) Russian clothing sizes—“take the bust or chest measurement and divide it in two” (111), or the how-tos on visiting a Russian Orthodox church (270–80)? Abundantly illustrated with no-frills line drawings and black-and-white photographs (of uneven quality), with two color maps on the inside covers, the book’s seventeen chapters and multiple appendices range from the physiological (“The Human Being/ Челове́к”) to the abstract (“Numbers/ Чи́сла”), with “Conduct/Поведе́ние,” “Names/Имена́, О́тчества, Фами́лии,” “Speech/Речь,” “Clothing/Оде́жда,” “Housing/Жи-ли́ще,” “Food/Ру́сская пи́ща, еда́,” “Medicine/Медици́на,” “Shopping/По магази́нам,” “Play/О́тдых,” “Holidays and the Church/Пра́здники и це́рковь,” “Education/Образова́ние,” “Work and Money/Рабо́та и де́ньги,” “Comunications/Связь,” “Transportation/Тра́нспорт,” and “Nature/Приро́да” in between. The “verbose” table of contents lists chapter topics by key concepts in English and Russian; it is supplemented by a thorough index, and key words in Russian appear in bold print with accents. For its intended audience (“the traveler who might be happier or even healthier knowing what to expect” and “for those studying the language who are blessed with curiosity and [temporarily] tired of verb forms” [xxvii]), in terms of breadth of coverage or ease of use The Russian’s World has no equal.