Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Mon Dec 20 22:15:39 UTC 1999

With apologies for taking "thread drift" one step further (and for mixing
three mataphors at last count), I, too, had a "pedantic accuracy attack"
and didn't think we had got it quite right yet, so I consulted my resident
Russian language and etiquette expert (who as a child growing up in
communist Czechoslovakia took so many years of Russian in school that she
became fluent out of self-defense).  Her contribution:

There is a sort of hierarchy or "ladder of respect" to Russian names. If
you know somebody really, really well, you call them just by their first
name. The first name + patronymic is a little more formal, but still
friendly. For example, Russian/Soviet schoolchildren call/ed their teachers
by their first name and patronymic: Anna Ivanovna, Mikhail Sergeyevich,
etc. (NOT "Comrade"--or "Mr./Mrs."--Pushkin/a ... or whatever the last name
may be). Calling somebody by the surname alone is very formal and is almost
always preceded by a "Mr./Mrs." (Gospodin/ Gospozha) or "Comrade"
(Tovarishch--same for both genders) or "Citizen/ess"

--On Fri, Dec 17, 1999 5:04 PM -0800 "A. Vine" <avine at ENG.SUN.COM> wrote:

> Joseph McCollum wrote:
>> In Russian, the patronymic is the middle name and not the surname.
>> Mikhail Sergeivich Gorbachev's father was named Sergei.
>> In the last days of the Soviet Union, C-SPAN televised the proceedings of
>> the Soviet
>> Parliament.  Members would get up and say, "Mikhail Sergeivich, you're
>> ruining the country!"  Now, no one ever called me by first and middle
>> names except my mother.
> Well, you could call it a middle name because it sits in the middle, but
> the form of address given-name + patronymic in Russian is the equivalent
> of the English "Ms./Mr." + family-name.  In the communist era, you would
> hear "Citizen" + family-name.
> Andrea Bernardovna
> --
> Andrea Vine, avine at
> Sun-Netscape Alliance i18n architect
> Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.
> -- Dr. Dave Farber (father of SNOBOL and one of the creators of Token
> Ring)

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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