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  • Thanks, rolig. I was wondering about Lavrov's reaction and the fact that it was presented in the Latin alphabet. Maybe the latter was actually the source of his pique?

    March 11, 2009

  • Perhaps the worst thing about this faux pas was not that the word was wrong (actually it's the kind of mistake I would expect a truly diplomatic Russian to overlook, since it's very understandable why someone, even with a good general knowledge of Russian, might think that peregruzka meant "reset" – and in "lazy" or colloquial Russian, people do say peregruzka to mean reboot; Lavrov was being an asshole), but that the word was written in the Latin alphabet, not in the Cyrillic. This is truly disrepectful of Russian as a language. For more on peregruzka / перегрузка v. perezagruzka / перезагрузка, see the discussion at Language Log, to which yours truly made a modest contribution.

    March 11, 2009

  • “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in greeting Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, presented him with a red plastic button emblazoned with the English word “reset�? and the Russian word “peregruzka.�?

    The gift was a play on Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call in Munich last month for the two countries to “press the reset button�? on their relationship.

    “We worked hard to get the right Russian word,�? Mrs. Clinton said, handing the button to Mr. Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?�?

    “You got it wrong,�? he replied, explaining that the Americans had come up with the Russian word for overcharged.�?

    The New York Times, Lost in Translation: A U.S. Gift to Russia, by Mark Landler, March 6, 2009

    March 11, 2009