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Connections Are Everything

Published: May 17, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



Photo: Mark Fischer / Flickr

Связи: connections

Back in the old days of Soviet rule, everyone needed one thing to survive: блат. This word, so satisfying to say — try it! — meant pull, an "in," connections. Блат got you tickets to a closed screening of a Hollywood film. Блат got you a tin of powdery but potent instant coffee from India. Блат got your kid a place in a preschool. But when the planned economy fell, it took блат with it. Now if you want something, you go buy it. You don't need блат with the sales clerk.

But if блат disappeared, связи (connections) are eternal. And luckily for all of us language-hoppers, they are pretty universal, too.

Связи — note the plural — are connections, contacts, people you know, relationships. Я хочу устроиться на работу в этой фирме. Нет у тебя там связей? (I'd like to get a job in that company. Do you have any contacts there?)

Sometimes the relationship connoted by связи is one of patronage. As usual, context is everything: Он поддерживает очень хорошие связи с местной администрацией (He's been cultivating an inside track in the local administration).

Связь (singular) is some kind of connection. It might be invisible: На сцене она умела сразу установить связь с аудиторией (On stage she could immediately establish a bond with the audience). It might be a bond of friendship or professional interests between individuals, institutions or countries: Количество внутренних и внешних — межрегиональных и международных — связей нашей компании постоянно возрастает (The number of our firm's domestic and foreign — inter-regional and international — relationships is constantly growing).

Or it might be something more intimate. Связь, sometimes modified with the word любовная (amorous), is any kind of extramarital relationship. Её муж, не зная о прежней нашей связи, старается познакомить нас (Her husband, who doesn't know that we had an affair, is trying to introduce us to each other). When связь is modified by the adjective половая (sexual), we are talking about a physical relationship without much emotional attachment. And случайная связь (literally an incidental contact) is what English speakers call a one-night stand.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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