Russian Language Journal


Russian language learning, linguistic context, Russian language dictionaries


Russian for All Occasions is an ambitious book that places itself somewhere between a bilingual thematic dictionary and a grammar textbook, while covering an impressively wide range of linguistic contexts. Its authors describe it as “a new type of dictionary” (xxvi) intended to aid learners of Russian in comprehending and constructing idiomatic speech. Theoretically, the project is rooted in the concept of the “communicative fragment” as defined by Boris Gasparov—the idea that indivisible combinations of words, rather than individual words, “provide speakers with the base units for the mnemonic ‘lexicon’ of their language” (xxvi). With this theory in mind, the authors offer an extensive collection of “frequently occurring mini-contexts” (xxvi), which they organize thematically into four large sections: the person/the family, culture/technology/daily life, society, and the natural world. These sections are in turn divided into thirty-three chapters on more specific topics.