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From Why Dont Russians Smile The definitive guide to the differences between Russians and Americans
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Words which I didn’t know:

- Stark differences – жесткие разграничения …stark discipline…stark realities of life

- Enlightenment – просвещение

- Blunt American way of speaking – грубоватый, резкий, тупой…blunt angle – тупой угол, scissors with blunt ends – ножницы с тупыми

- Callous – грубый, бессердечный, нечувственный, мозолистый, огрубевший (о коже)

- концами, a blunt answer – прямой ответ, the blunt facts – упрямые фактб rude and blunt people – грубые и резкие люди

- A trait Russians share with Americans – характерная черта, особенность. The chief traits of a person’s character – главные черты характера

- Life is compartmentalized – жизнь делится на отсеки/ячейки

- Impenetrable – непробиваемый. Impenetrable armor. Cloth impenetrable to water - не пропускающая воду. Impenetrable jungle – непроходимые джунгли.

- Russians are difficult to penetrate at first – просочиться, прорываться, постигать-понимать. To penetrate into secrets of nature – постигать тайны природы.

- American smile is disingenuous – неискренняя

- A counterpart – двойник (a double, a twin). She is a counterpart of her twin sister.

- To quip – саркастически подмечать

- Alacrity – готовность. He accepted an invitation with alacrity.

- Willingness- готовность

- Scowl (аu) – to look at somebody with a scowl – грозно посмотреть на кого-то, to scowl at somebody – грозно смотреть на кого-то

- Sinister – дурной, мрачный, темный. Sinister face, sinister influence, intentions

- Agitrop – пропаганда, агитация

My impressions about chapter 1.

First I started reading a book I read Churchill’s famous phrase about Russians “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. I always say it to my Italian tourists when I tell them that Russia is a huge country, on the territory of RF more than 40 different nations live and socialize between each other. Among them there are muslims, buddists, orthodox people with their unusual traditions and customs, some of them have their own language and a constitution. That’s why I always quote Churchill and say that “La Russia e’ un’enigma dentro un rebus infilato in un indovinello”.

First I visited the US (NY and Atlanta) with my family when I was 12. First we knew from a Russian guide (who in fact wasn’t a professional guide but just a guy who had been living in the US since the beginning of 1990s) about American smile. That really surprised us. A woman in a shop was working with a strict face, but when we came closer to her to ask a question she smiled with all her teeth. That was and remains unusual for Russia, although I believe that not all Russian are severe, but …many of them are. The guide told us that all americans smile because of politeness. But that is inner politeness, at work it may be just a bit fake, but in normal life it’s something which is inside them.

Although I don’t know americans well, I can’t believe, that according to the book americans make personal questions to the person they don’t know well. I always found American people correct, too polite, people who respect one’s privacy. I can’t believe that americans would ask an unknown person about his/her wage, a private life and so on. Questions about politics is ok in my mind. Meanwhile Russians adore asking private questions to a person who is really interesting for them. Especially women. Russian men are usually calm, meanwhile women can be too curious and envious. If a person represents a kind of an interest for Russian, they would immediately ask him or her, if he/she is married or single, with who he lives, does he or she rent or whether he has his own apartment. Questions about kids, family status, political visions, salary are normal for Russians. Especially people who live in provincial regions do not hesitate at all to ask such questions to strangers. Of course they wouldn’t ask all these questions if they know a person only 5 minutes, but a bit later Russians will ask them, if a person is interesting persona according to their view point. Moscovites and people from Spb usually are a bit reserved in spite of provincial Russians, still all of them are very curious.

Americans are more individualistic, meanwhile Russians were raised in collectivism. I agree with this, but I would add that a Russian people was raised in in a collectivism of big fear. All Russian history is based on fear and aggression. Numerous wars, revolutions, repressions, strong and aggressive leaders did their best to wipe off a smile from Russians face. Obviously a climate plays a big part in creation of callous Russian character. Moreover it’s a well-known factl that salaries in Russia are not high enough and earning money is a big deal a part from Moscow. Salaries in Moscow are ok, but many people come to Moscow from other cities, so they are obliged to pay a high rent or a high mortgage. Especially men, men usually smile seldom, because in our country men get married young, they don’t posses a lot of money, after one or two kids they understand that life is a kind of a routine with everyday household chores, earning money in a country where is really hard to earn honestly explains lack of smile. Still I think women, better say young girls and ladies before 40th (especially those ones without kids and family problems) smile more often.