CarolineJames

Caroline James

Caroline James is an Editor in the English Language Teaching division at Oxford University Press.

Articles by Caroline James


motherland

Identity crisis: motherland or fatherland?

In 2015, people across the globe will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In Russia, the grand public holiday that marks the end of this ‘Great Patriotic War’ (Velikaya Otechestvennaya voina/Великая Отечественная война in Russian) is one of the highlights of the calendar year. Victory Day (Den’ Pobedy/День Победы) […]

russian easter

Pancakes, eggs, and effigies: springtime in Russia

Russia is a notoriously chilly place. And while snow may have its appeal, there comes a time when even the hardiest Muscovite starts willing for the first signs of spring and the chance to pack away their fur coat (shuby/шубы) for a few months. As the saying goes: vesna ne prosto vremya goda, a sostoyanie […]

Russian_large

I object! (To the Russian case system)

Russian: what’s not to love? Alluringly exotic alphabet? Check. Tantalizingly challenging vocabulary? Check. Enough espionage associations to spice up even the dullest of online dating profiles? Check. But when you’re learning Russian, it’s the grammar that gets you. Like Latin, Tamil, German, and Finnish – to name a few – Russian relies on a complex […]

Russian new year_large

S novym godom: enjoy a Russian happy new year!

Forget Christmas! In Russia – and in some other former Soviet countries – Novyi God (Новый Год, ‘New Year’) is arguably the most popular holiday of the year. Christmas was banned by the Bolsheviks following the 1917 Revolution and, although it is celebrated nowadays (more on that later), Russia’s biggest winter holiday remains a secular […]

colours

Colourful language: colours in international idioms

Although we have a plethora of words in our vocabularies to describe colour, it’s unlikely that we each perceive colour in the same way. What if your red is actually my blue, or my yellow is your green? We may never know if a Parisian’s rouge is identical to a Varsovian’s czerwony, but we can […]

untranslatable

Translatable vs untranslatable

In a guest blog post, and following on from her article about ‘untranslatable’ Russian words, Caroline James questions the idea that some words are simply untranslatable. For most language learners and lovers, translation is a hot topic. Should I translate new vocabulary into my first language? How can I say x in Japanese? Is this […]

Russian

Russian? It’s child’s play!

Although Russian isn’t as far removed from many European languages as you might think, it can’t help but appear impenetrable. Those funny letters, long words… Once you’ve mastered Russian’s complex grammar and got your head around those tricky consonant clusters, it often feels as if your language-learning journey is complete. That is, until you encounter […]

leaves

Can a word really be untranslatable?

There’s no such thing as an untranslatable word. There, I’ve said it. Despite all the memes, blogs, and books to the contrary, all language is inherently translatable. However, whether the broader meaning of a text – the jokes, philosophies, and cultural peculiarities of its language – is translatable depends almost entirely on the individual with their nose […]

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