Chernov, Ghelly V. (2009). Amerikanskii variant: English-Russian / Russian-English Dictionary.
Moscow: ABBYY Press, pp. xxvi, 1062. USD 8.69. ISBN: 978 5 391 00023 5.
Professor Ghelly V. Chernov's English-Russian / Russian-English second revised, updated and expanded version of the two-way bilingual dictionary Amerikanskii variant, edited by S.G. Chernov, was published recently by ABBYY Lingvo (Moscow).
Just as languages are continuously evolving, so too are the dictionaries that seek to keep pace with new developments. This new dictionary, like the previous edition (published 2001), has a purely practical purpose: to record the current state of the American variety of English—its lexical and idiomatic stock.
This dictionary, on the one hand, serves as a general-purpose guide to lexis in everyday use in the USA; on the other hand, it abounds in examples of current American realia, colloquialisms and idioms. Very many of its entries are not to be found in other reference resources of comparable size, in terms of socio-cultural content.
The creation of this dictionary is both a response to ever-changing events in political, economic and cultural life in the USA and an attempt to capture the variety of English in which American people discuss these events. The irreversible trend for American usage to establish itself in varieties of English spoken elsewhere around the world was identified by Professor Ghelly V. Chernov some decades ago, and he devoted much of his time and energy as a professional interpreter and scholar to cataloguing the changes. His findings and observations have been recorded successively in the encyclopaedic dictionary "Amerikana" (1996) and the two editions of the bilingual compact dictionary "Amerikanskii Variant" (2001 and 2009) which grew out of it.
Amerikanskii variant has a number of distinctive features. Although small in size, it contains detailed entries—in many places, more detailed than in the larger dictionaries—for all words which are the basis of set expressions and phrases. This applies in particular to phrasal verbs, such as: make (up), get (in), set (off), put (away), which are highly numerous in idiomatic English. Such combinations are frequently used in everyday speech—in the home, in the street, etc. In the English-Russian section the author has included examples that reflect contemporary American life and reality and, in the Russian-English section, those which reflect Russian realia. This is achieved through numerous explanations (italicised or bracketed) given after the respective translation or example.
The dictionary's special virtues are its compactness (two dictionaries in one volume), clarity of presentation and attractive layout. It is user-friendly—expressions are introduced by headwords and in many cases supplemented with background (historical/cultural) information, for example: (1) Bonanza [transcription and definitions] // Bonanza State "Ore State" (a nickname for Montana) (47); (2) the expression Put your John Hancock here is familiar to Americans but requires explanation for non-Americans. The entry appears thus: John Hancock [transcription] = personal signature (named after the first American signatory of the Declaration of Independence)// Put your ~ here (Russian paraphrase—literally "sign here") (227). In addition, frequently-used acronyms are listed as ordinary word entries, e.g. the culture-bound acronym B.Y.O. immediately follows by-election (58) in the alphabetic sequence; the entry contains the expansion bring your own, the explanation (in Russian) "a restaurant not licensed to serve alcohol" and the clarification "customers may bring their own alcoholic drinks".
The readership of this dictionary includes schoolchildren and students, tourists, business people and all who are professionally involved with English and Russian. It contains 50,949 words and expressions—27,700 in the English-Russian section and 23,249 in the Russian-English. It also provides a phonetic transcription scheme and pronunciation guide, orthographic tables, and a list of abbreviations; and it contains both a world gazetteer and a gazetteer of the Russian Federation.
This edition is a worthy successor to the edition published eight years earlier and an invaluable companion for anyone engaged in Russian and American matters.
Dr. Nelly Chachibaia, Department of Humanities, Arts & Languages, London Metropolitan University