Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Y'all are by now aware of Friday's meteor, which busted a million square feet of windowpanes in Chelyabinsk, Russia. And I know what y'all are thinking: what a great opportunity to learn some Russian! Yes!

Chelyabinsk was a small town before WW2 turned it into a huge weapon-manufacturing city, beyond the reach of German bombers. Like most Russian, Chelyabinsk, Russia is pronounceable (and maybe understandable) if you know the letter-sounds. And you know most of them already: 

Ч   е  л    я   б  и   н  с к,      Р  о  с  с  и  я
Ch e   l  ya   b   i   n  s  k,      R  o  s  s   i  ya

Not too bad, especially if you've had some exposure to Greek letters via math, physics, or fraternities. BTW, a Russian C always sounds like S.

Chelyabinsk churned out so many tanks that it was nicknamed Tankograd, Tank City.  Yes, the Russian word for 'tank' is 'tank.'

 Т а н к о г р а д
 T a n k o g r a d

It's all Greek and Roman letters, not too tough. Tankograd made thousands of tanks at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory:

Челябинский  тракторный  завод
Chelyabinskiy   Traktorniy   Zavod

The 'iy' on the end makes the nouns into masculine adjectives because zavod / factory is masculine. But a Chelyabinsk newspaper might be called the Chelyabinskaya Gazette:

  Челябинская     газета
Chelyabinskaya   Gazeta

because a gazette, a newspaper, is feminine.

Among other weapons, Chelyabinsk made Katyushas, trucks mounted with rocket-launchers:

К а т  ю́ ш а
K a t yu sh a

The Katyusha rocket-launcher was named after a girl in a popular wartime song who misses her soldier boyfriend. Katyusha means 'beloved Katie,' a diminutive term of endearment for a woman named 


It's pronounced "Yekaterina." 

And last is this easy one, which prompted the post. I expect you can figure it out on your own:

 PHOTO: In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen.