Monday, January 19, 2009

Things I miss about Russia

The other day I was going downstairs and someone said, "Oh, you're done with your shower." Yes, I was. But suddenly I wanted to be in Russia and hear someone say to me, "S'lyokim parom!"

That's my own transliteration, by the way, for С легким паром.

With the s, l, and y there it's quite the consonant cluster and pretty hard to pronounce. Then after a brief vowel sound there are a g and a k together. Impossible!

The first word means "light" and the second word means "steam," and you are basically congratulating someone after he/she comes out of the bath. The Russian banya (which is like a sauna, but different) had (has) a lot of steam, and that's where the term comes from.

I still haven't been to a banya. Hmmmm, I'll have to remedy that sometime in the near future.

When we were at camp we used to say it because the communal shower rooms there get pretty steamy with the heat from the boiler. We made up our own translation: "Congratulations, you are clean!" It's a pretty rough translation, but it worked for us. :)

(Ирония судьбы или) с легким паром is also the name of a classic Russian film that I had to watch in college. I had only studied Russian for about two years at that time and didn't understand much, but the professor did a good job of explaining. Now I can understand it on my own. :) It's an entertaining movie.


  1. Actually, Liz, i was wondering about this particular expression for some time - would it mean "Light" steam" or "Easy" steaming" as "легкий" means both. For some reason, in this context, "easy" seems to have more sense. What do you think?

  2. I thought it meant sort of "gentle." In that case, either would work. "Easy" would mean "not difficult," and that doesn't make sense to me. Like you are doing work.

  3. Elizabeth:

    "С легким паром!" is being both an expression of a kind of congratulation on one's having passed the "steam trial" successively, and the hope that one now feels relieved and alleviated.
    The Russian word "облегчение" = "alleviation" has the same stem as the word "лeгкий".


    Michael Kuznetsov

    P.S. Would you mind if I would add your blog to the LINKS page of my website Russian Victories:

  4. Yes, "alleviation" is a good translation! Thanks! Yes, you can add my blog to your links.


Just added word verification to reduce spam. Nothing personal!

You’re welcome to leave a link to your own blog here if it's relevant to this blog.

Please make sure that your comments are 1) relevant and 2) respectful (i.e. no cuss words, attacks on individuals).

Still here

Wintry postcard from St. Petersburg during some recent colder temperatures... I don't even remember how to edit on here! I hope to updat...