November 01, 2008

Mauvaix phone



Mauvaix phone

Ten years ago in this column (October 1998, to be exact), I raised the issue of phone etiquette (you’ll have to get the book to read it now). So it’s high time for an update, especially now that every Russian has a cell phone (and every second Muscovite has two!). 

One’s мобильный телефон is commonly called a мобильник (note the “rough” suffix ник), мобила, or, more tenderly, мобилка. 

Take note, however: today, no Russian under 30 uses the verb позвонить. Instead, it is the era of набрать (from набрать номер – to dial a number). A twentysomething says “набери мне” (literally “dial me”) instead of “позвони мне.” Or, worse, “набери меня.” A typical statement is: “Я ему набрал, а он не берёт.” This means, of course, “I dialed him, but he did not pick up.” Yet an unwitting translator, absent context, could correctly translate this as, “I picked some (flowers, mushrooms, whatever) for him, but he wouldn’t take them.” 


Digital Subscription Required

Get unlimited digital access for just $2 a month.

Don't have an account? signup

See Also

Gorod 312

Gorod 312

The band's anti-cellphone video, mentioned in this issue's Survival Russian.

About Us

Russian Life is a 29-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955