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Looking into the Language of Russians | Clint Walker | TEDxUMontana

Translator: Alina Siluyanova
Reviewer: Denise RQ The Russians. When I say that phrase,
what image comes to your minds? What about if I say “the Soviet Union”? Do you see red? Words and images,
they’re linked in our minds, but the way that they are linked
is far from simple. I grew up in a small town
in the state of Maine. I remember ducking and cover drills
in the halls of my grade school. I remember watching a TV special
called “The Day After” about a massive nuclear attack
launched by the Soviet Union. I remember picturing in my mind: a black suitcase with a detonation device
and a red launch button. But even more
than my fear of a nuclear war, I remember my fascination
with that huge country called the Soviet Union. Who were they, the Soviets? I wanted to know. To find out I traveled to the USSR
in a student exchange. More recently, Americans
are having a good deal of trouble understanding the Russians. Some are even calling the current
cultural climate a new cold war. In the recent effort
to break the ice, in March, 2009, then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, handed the Russian Foreign Minister,
Sergey Lavrov, a box with a plastic red button. The State Department thought that the Russian writing
on the box said “Reset”, as in “Hey, things are getting
too tense here, time to press ‘Reset’.” Well, it turned out
that the writing on the box actually said “overcharged” or “overload”, as in “Danger! System overload!” (Laughter) Words and images. Fortunately, the Russians
like a good laugh, things turned out all right, but still, this episode highlights
the important role language plays in bridging cultures and promoting
global understanding. Language is one
of the most important tools created by human beings. But it is much more
than just a tool for communication, it’s a repository
for culture and for values. Each word-image in the Russian language
is like an icon portal opening up a window
into the Russian psyche. Take kissing, for example. When Russians kiss,
they don’t just lock lips, they are literally
making themselves whole, (Russian) они целуются, the idea is woven
into the fabric of the word “kiss”. Love feels a void inside you,
and you become whole. So go ahead, don’t be afraid, kiss someone like a Russian
and make yourself whole. Russian is filled
with word icons like “kiss”. In Russian language
words joined together to form families of words,
they breathe and come to life in the works of writers
like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov. Words allow us
to peer into the Russian soul. Russian is a Slavic language,
over a 1,000 years old. Slavic languages are spoken
by 315 million people today making the Slavic subgroup
the largest in all of Europe. The ancient Slavs originally
identified themselves as “slavonian”, a people linked through “praise”,
(Russian) “слава”, and the power of the “word”,
(Russian) “слово”. (Russian) Слава, слово, Slav, three word roots
at the core of Slavic identity. Orthodox Christianity
came to Russia from Byzantium bringing with it
a specially created alphabet that eventually became Cyrillic,
the alphabet used today by Russians. The Russian grand prince Vladimir
converted to Christianity in the ancient Greek city of Chersonese
located in modern day Crimea. After converting, Vladimir
returned to the capital city of Kiev where he baptized
his entire nation in 988 A.D. Vladimir’s conversion,
and the written language that came with it created a powerful sense
of shared believes and shared identity amongst the Slavic peoples. Elements of Russia’s spiritual legacy
are woven into the fabric of Russian like strands of DNA into a human body. The ancient Greek
for “Christ” is “Khristos”, giving us the Russian word “Христос”, but these links are much more
than just shared letters in an alphabet, these are shared beliefs. In the Christian belief system, Christ represents
the embodied word of God, “logos”. In the Russian language
the word for “cross”, “крест”, is connected
to the biblical Greek for Christ. Many words in the Russian
language have this root: “to baptize”, “крестить”,
“to resurrect”, “воскресить”, “Sunday”, “воскресенье”, even the word for “peasant”,
(Russian) “крестьянин”, contains the “крест” or “cross” root. Part of the cultural mythology is viewing peasants
as Christ-like cross-bearers whose suffering makes them holy. Russian is filled with words and ideas that are woven into the language,
the most simple words. Take the word for “good”,
(Russian) “хорошо”, it’s connected to the word
(Russian) “хор”, “chorus”. In the deep layers of Russian singing together in a group
is associated with goodness. In fact, collectivity as a positive value is woven in the many words in Russian. The word for a “cathedral” is
(Russian) “собор”, which connects to the word “собирать”
which is “to gather together”. So, worship in a cathedral for Russians is literally
a gathering together of the body. Even every day expressions,
the most basic ones, like “Thank you”, (Russian) “Спасибо”, can tell us
about values in the language. “Спасибо” is a truncated shortened form for (Russian) “Спаси тебя Бог”;
“May God save you”. The first part of “Спасибо”, “Spas”,
can be seen on many orthodox icons, it’s the reference to the Savior,
(Russian) “Spas”, “Christ”. The verb “to save”,
(Russian) “спасти”, can internally be connected
to the verb (Russian) “пасти”, “to shepherd a flock”. So, the phonetic link
between these two words emphasizes Christ’s dual role
as shepherd and Savior. I’ve only described
a few core values woven into Russian. These would include a deep spirituality, value of collectivity and song, belief in the holiness
of those who suffer, and a deep hunger for salvation
from a good shepherd. So, given these core values,
how did they fair in more modern times? The 18th and the 19th centuries
saw increased contact between Russia and Western Europe leading to the importation
of ideas and theories that often came in conflict
with Russia’s religious heritage. This shifting thinking culminated
in a revolution, Marxist one, that labeled religion
“the opium of the people”. Many Russians came to see
the tzar not as a shepherd but as the head
of the repressive political system. This culminated
in two Russian revolutions in 1917 that overthrew the tsarist power and replaced it
with a Soviet government led by Lenin. ♪ They say you want a revolution ♪ No, no, sorry, wrong one. That’s John Lennon. I don’t mean the Beatle,
I mean the Bolshevik. (Russian) Spasibo. (Laughter) Under Bolshevik rule, Communist party teachings
replaced the teachings of the church and the state assumed the role of bringing about
paradise on Earth, Communism. When it became apparent
that the Soviet experiment was actually not going
to bring about paradise on Earth, Russians turned
to the language for comfort. In the Brezhnev era, Soviets loved to tell highly politicized jokes called
(Russian) “анекдоты”. “Anekdoty” allowed citizens
who felt trapped inside the dysfunctional Soviet system to laugh at themselves
and their misplaced faith. A popular “anekdot”
about the garden of Eden asked: “What was nationality of Adam and Eve? Mmm? They were Russians. Of course. Only Russians could be forced
to run around naked, have no roof over their heads, have only one apple to share, and be told by higher power
that they are in the paradise.” (Laughter) (Applause) Even the most sacred symbols
of the Soviet power became the target of anecdotes. (Reads with Russian accent)
“Patent for a new Soviet bed for three”. You like, comrade? (Laughter) Ho, Lenin! He is always with us! Eventually, a 70+ year experiment
in an atheistic state ideology collapsed, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Today Russians
again stand at the crossroads, because they struggle to discover
who they are as a people. A little over 1,000 years
Russia has gone from the reign of Prince Vladimir The Red Sun
to the reign of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, to the present reign
of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. With each passing year,
President Putin has aligned himself more closely with the Orthodox Church. Putin has called
the break-up of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical
catastrophe of the 20th century”. Given the failure of Communism,
as a national idea, what is the ideological glue
that Vladimir Putin sees as bonding Russians today? The answer, at least in part,
is the Russian language. According to Vladimir Putin, Russia annexed the beautiful peninsula
of Crimea from Ukraine in the interests of protecting the violated rights of Russian speakers
who populate the peninsula, which is actually 60% Russian. Putin has gone on to vow that he will protect the rights
of Russian speakers around the globe causing discomfort in countries
with a large Russian speaking population. For Vladimir Putin, geopolitics has found
a soul mate in language politics. Putin is reclaiming the Russian language
as a kind of national glue to bond Russians
and reawaken their cultural pride. The Opening Ceremony
of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi prominently featured the Russian language by pairing achievements of famous Russians with specific letters
of the Cyrillic alphabet. For Russians language matters,
it’s part of who they are, but in the light of recent events,
perhaps it’s time to recall some very old words
from one of Russia’s most sacred texts, Primary Chronicler which calls upon
all the Slavic peoples to live together in love,
brotherhood and sisterhood, and peace, (Russian) “мир”. To quote an old Soviet phrase: (Russian)
“Миру Мир”, “Peace to the World”. Long live the language of peace, laughter and kisses that make us whole, long live the beautiful Russian language! (Blows a kiss)
(Russian) Spasibo. (Applause)

74 Replies to “Looking into the Language of Russians | Clint Walker | TEDxUMontana”

  • Great! I am Russian, and such simple elements are indeed for us daily. We all know the origin of these words, and glad that you know them too. Спасибо.

  • Мне понравилось. Анекдот про Адама и Еву раньше не слышал, а вот насчет того, что "хорошо" происходит от "хор", очень сильно сомневаюсь

  • Очень интересно! Мне очень приятно! Приятно видеть человека, который, так хорошо разбирается в русском языке.Тем более человеку, который изучил другую культуру, большое уважение! Даже мне носителю языка,очень многое открылось впервые! Спасибо.

  • Interesting conference, thank you, you got into something fundamental here but there's still a confusion between Russian speaking people the way we understand it in the West and how it is perceived in Russia and former USSR states. See, in Ukraine the far right extremists, most of them being Poles originally, want to get rid of all Russians on their soil (meaning Ukraine) which, in their minds, means Russian speaking people, no matter if they are Russian citizens or Ukrainians. In fact, and it demonstrates what you say, their first decision after the push in 2014 was to eradicate anything Russian beginning with the Russian language although it's been Ukraine's language for more than a thousand years and Ukrainian, actually a Polish dialect also spoken in Belarus and the Baltic states where they don't call it Ukrainian, only became a language at the end of the 19th century, for political reasons and with the help of Russian speaking writers and authors who based it upon the old Russian language to give it a proper structure. So yes the language is one of the things that bring people together in Russia but never forget that what made Russia as a whole is religion, namely orthodoxy, and, as you pointed out, it shows in the Russian language. Today Russia is a country where several religions and ethnies live together in peace and nobody wants to go back to the roots (that's in fact the Soviet heritage where all Soviets were equal), unless they're rejected and treated as if there was no common history, religion and culture with them. Finally, about Putin's quote, remember he also said that he who denies the right to feel nostalgic at times about USSR has no heart, but he who wants it back has no brains. Further more, when later asked by a journalist about it, he explained that what he meant was that after USSR's disappearance 25 million Russians (which, remember, means both citizens of the former Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and Russian speaking people) became strangers in the country they lived in (and most of the time in which they were born and grew up) overnight, without a chance to become citizens of any of these countries, with Russian language being banned as one of the official languages. Who pushed these countries to act so brutally? Well there has never been a vote from the people on this issue in any of these countries but they all became NATO members (without a democratic vote either) soon after. In other words, Americans knew what you just told us : the best way to destroy unity, History and culture in former USSR and isolate Russia so that it no longer stands in the way, is to eradicate the Russian language wherever it is possible to do so. In Caucasus they also worked on eradicating orthodoxy with the help of Saudi Arabia. Russian language and orthodoxy are what brought people together in Russia from day one, if you want to destroy Russia and divide it into multiple harmless (for the Anglo-Saxon imperialists) countries, destroy the Russian language and orthodoxy. It looks to me as if that's what some heartless and brainless greedy people have been working on for at least 25 years… The Russian anthem says : Russia, our sacred state, Russia, our beloved country, you are unique, one of a kind, our loyalty to the Motherland gives us strength, that's how it always was, that's how it is today and that's how it will always be…

  • Interesting idea about Russian language like a glue for unite people, but, unfortunately, most of lecture is a mess of misunderstandings and political/historical propaganda.

  • While I appreciate the overall sentiment that Russian is a fascinating language that holds key to understanding the history and culture of the people who speak it (so does English, mind you, or any other language for that matter), a lot of the examples he provides are complete bollocks. For instance, there’s no connection between ‘хорошо’ and ‘хор’ or between ‘крест’ and ‘воскресать’. They are what is known as folk etymology, ie misconceptions based exclusively on phonetic similarity of words and unsupported by any etymological evidence. So this guy is either seriously misinformed or just plain lazy and couldn’t be arsed to do any actual research. Our governments might not be on the friendliest of terms, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find joy in exploring and discovering each other’s language and culture. It’s just really odd that someone would try and prove this point by spreading such obviously erroneous information.

  • And this is kind of why Ashkenazi Jews barely consider ourselves Russian… even the language is based on Christianity.

  • funny how Russian history is about 1200 years old… and all Americans know is their communist time… (80-90 years)

  • Только путину совсем не это надо, что про него сказали. Ему надо усидеть на троне до смерти, подкупая своих дружков-олигархов и загоняя народ в дремучее мракобесие

  • I love such people, who sincerely try to speak publicly about the foreign countries, deeply knowing the culture and a believes of foreign nations.

  • Wow! Reading the comments of Russian speakers here I am again struck by how monolingual Americans who manage to blunder their way through the rudiments of a foreign language, immediately assume themselves to be authorities and experts. Even HRC who ostensibly had access to Russian translators didn't bother to ensure that she was using the correct word on her diplomatic 'gift. This speaker is typical of ignorant people, who nevertheless always presume to know more than they actually do, and then pass on to others their stupid misinterpretations.

  • Русский язык красивый, но Путин всё ровно придёт , заберёт вашу землю и убьёт вас – если вкратце.

  • A rule of thumb: if you want to learn about Russia, try to avoid Western "experts". With their long and rich history, Russians don't need "to discover who they are". And most of them certainly don't want to be part of the West(ern Cartel) which nowadays simply means dancing to the tune of Washington.

  • Спасибо! Очень профессионально! Полагаю, что иностранным студентам это весьма интересно. Вот только надо было бы привести в пример церковно-славянский алфавит: Аз, Боги, Веди, Глаголь, Добро, Есть, Живите…, а не советский урезанный и бессмысленный.
    Thank you! Very professional! I believe that this is very interesting for foreign students. Here only it would be necessary to cite the Church Slavonic alphabet as an example: Az, Gods, Vedi, Verb, Good, Yes, Live … and not Soviet cut-down and pointless.

  • Spanish is also a christian-rooted language. For example Goodbye= Adiós, literally To God. Or Gracias= thank you, literally Holy.

  • Nonsensical random association of uncollaborated 'ideas'. If this is all he knows about Russia his employer was conned.

  • Глубоко! Большое спасибо, очень интересно посмотреть на себя со стороны, удачи

  • Slavic scholars differ widely in both the terminology and periodization of the language development, the Common Slavic period comes after Proto-Slavic. The period Profesor Walker refers to, I suppose, is a period of Late Common Slavic as a spoken and Common Old Slavic as a written language. I would ask you to raise a thumb for his attempt to bring the Slavic spirit closer to the Western world.

  • Russian the first thing I thing is extreme sharp intelect.They ern 3x more than Americans
    Create walley and are dominant in mathematica.programins

  • Направление правильное но аргументы пальцем в небо.

  • LONG LIVE THE BEAUTIFUL RUSSIAN LANGUAGE!Vladimir The Great Sun Crimea was incorporated into the Russian Empire by Catherine the Great in 1783 from the defeated Ottoman Empire.

  • The author forgot to explain what the "scary" word Soviet means. This word comes from the verb "советоваться" what does it mean to consult. When a group of people gathers and consults with each other, these are the Soviet.

  • боюсь что половина или даже больше не соответствует действительности.

  • ¡Hola! Me llamo Vladimir y soy
    profesor del idioma ruso, rusohablante nativo. Los invito a mi canal de
    Youtube dedicado al idioma ruso para hispanohablantes que recién estoy
    También ofrezco lecciones particulares via Skype. Por más información me puede preguntar.

  • As a native Russian speaker, I can tell that this is utter nonsense. Hard to believe the shear absurdity of some of the folk etymologies the speaker mentions. Overall, the speech leaves you with a feeling that it actually serves political agenda, given its zero linguistic value, vague pseudoscientific passages and the final coda about "protecting Russian speakers around the world".

  • THis guy maby knows some russian language but if he knew also greek then he would understand how many mistakes he makes giving this speach

  • Nice lecture Clint but better check the origin of the Russian language. Simply put not correct information. Especially the origin of the Cyrillic alphabet and the Slavonic language. Please check sources.

  • I always thought the Slavic/Russian language would use 7 grammatical cases.
    Below, it might be the ones, but not sure at all.

    Just fills me with awe.
    The German language should use 4 grammatical cases which
    I already find hard to master.
    The Romans with their Latin also use a ton of grammatical cases.
    But how can it be that the common majority of the people would
    be able to use all these cases in the proper way?

    nominative, nominative case, subject case
    the category of nouns serving as the grammatical subject of a verb

    oblique, oblique case
    any grammatical case other than the nominative

    accusative, accusative case, objective case
    the case of nouns serving as the direct object of a verb

    dative, dative case
    the category of nouns serving as the indirect object of a verb

    genitive, genitive case, possessive, possessive case
    the case expressing ownership

    vocative, vocative case
    the case (in some inflected languages) used when the referent of the noun is being addressed

    ablative, ablative case
    the case indicating the agent in passive sentences or the instrument or manner or place of the action described by the verb


    DO NOT STOP TALKING.. for in Your voice there is the Most Urgent message to COUNTER the lies of the “Biased Indoctrinated West against Russia”
    Long Live Russia… Long Live Putin ..👏🏻👏🏻 THANK YOU .!!

  • Chinese since 1949 also had their religion beaten out of them. Chinese communist party is scared shitless so they control and dominate their people so that their fate is not turned into Soviet Union status

  • Yeah well I don't agree on statement that "Russia annexed Crimea". That's the world our western establishment wants us to use, but Crimeans actually voted to join Russia. And even according to Wikipedfia 77% of Crimeans are Russians, not 60% as he said.

  • !!Don't believe most of it – it's not a scientifically sound speech.
    As a native Russian speaker, I have to say that great imagination is woven into this speech. Full of ludicrous nonexistent word connections and clear misinterpretations.
    You actually do a disfavour to the language by basing argument about it's "beauty" on falsehoods.

  • It gets funnier and funnier. As kids in Yekaterinburg we used to joke that "лестница" (staircase) comes from "лесть" (flatter). But that was a kids joke and this guy makes a whole Ted speech using this technique seriously!

  • In the meanwhile, to celebrate Russian language, speaking Russian was literally made into a crime with the enactment of Ukrainian new language law a few days ago. And it is not a joke or exaggeration. I think it is a unique and commemorative event in all legal history on this planet. The law will be phased in in stages, coming into full force and effect in 2030. For now speaking Russian in Ukraine will be punished quite leniently, just with summary fines.

  • I've just found that video. I'm agree with Clint Walker the Russian language is amazing and interesting. A lot of expressions, proverbs and words have links with the religion. But in the other hand, I've found his (short) conference in certain ways an exaggeration. You can use the words and make them said what you want. Хорошо comes from Хор it is an over-interpretation. The word собор is the translation of the greek word of cathedral. In old Russian there was земский собор (zemsky sobor) and today's word is собрание (sobranie) which means assembly.

  • Я смотрю видео привлекло больше русскоязычных зрителей.

  • Oh gush… I’m native Russian speaker and I study languages: the linguistic “theories” of this guy aren’t worthy to be shared under TED brand, he speaks more about his linguistic fantasies, then about the academic studies of the object.

  • Slava also means "glory" in my language, and also Cirylic alphabet doesnt come from Byzantian empire but from Bulgaria, and it was made from bulgarian priests (Ciril and Methodi) so all the south slavs can have their own alphabet.Russian king adopted it becose languages are similar (same ethnic group) and it spread it across Kiev Russia first then whole country.

  • One hundred year ago Russian language still had two different words with meanings 'peace' and 'the world'. The same, as English and other languages. Bolsheviks deleted several letters from Russian alphabet, including letter 'i'. As a result both words got the same spelling – 'мир'.

  • God save us from the anglosax trying to understand us. Anglosax killing everything he understands, and dont killing something only because he dont understand how to di it.
    During the last "big understandment", usually called "perestrojka", Russia lost three times more lifes than during WW2.
    Russia should take law that every anglosax who trying to understand Russia is a war criminal, preparing to mass genocide, and must be dealt same way as Israel deal with terrorists.

  • I initially thought this guy was a stand up comic, but comments revealed he was a professor of russian in USA. Poor american students and poor we russians – those students will soon become kremlinologists.

  • Послушал этого "специалиста" по России, по русским, и понял: они никогда не понимали русских и никогда не поймут!
    Они видят лишь верхнюю часть, но не понимают сути.
    Эта суть ускользнула из рассказа автора как вода через пальцы.
    Он пытался зачерпнуть, удержать воду в ладонях, но она вылилась так, что он не понял и не заметил.

  • Поцелуй не от слова Целый.Были в РИ до 19 века целовальники.
    1. истор. в Русском государстве XV—XVIII веков — должностное лицо, избиравшееся из посадских людей или черносошных крестьян для выполнения различных финансовых или судебных обязанностей
    2. устар. продавец вина в питейном заведении, кабаке; кабатчик
    Итак, от поцелуев хмелело в голове и от хмельных напитков.Поэтому такое именование..

  • WRONG!!! Christianity came to Russia from BULGARIA. Bulgarian priests baptized the Russians. The so-called Cyril alphabet is actually Bulgarian alphabet created by the Bulgarian priest Kliment Ohridski. The first patriarchs of the Russian church were Bulgarians. The modern-day Russian language is very similar to Bulgarian not only because it's also Slavic, but because the Russian language was formed on the basis of old Bulgarian language used in Bulgarian Orthodox Christianity books, which are to this day used in orthodox churches in Russia for prayers. Actually modern-day Russian is almost identical to old Bulgarian language.

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