Princeton Russian in a zip file

Harold let me know that the Princeton Russian course, which I had made a torrent file for, is now available as a zip file from I can assure you from experience that getting it from that site will be 1) much faster and 2) much less hassle, than it would be if you got it via the torrent.  You can locate the zip file link here; just pay attention to the stipulations for the download. (Basically, contact the creator and let him know you’re using it.)

Thanks, Harold!

A torrent of the Princeton Russian courses

I posted previously about the wonderful Russian courses available for free from Princeton. They have, however, recently taken the courses down. This happened once before in the past, and the courses were later put back up, but there’s no real way to know whether Princeton will do this again.

However – I have come to the rescue! Before the files disappeared, I had downloaded them all to my hard drive. I was able to contact the creator of the courses, David Freedel, and asked if he had any problem with me sharing them. He said, basically, “Nope, I don’t work at Princeton anymore – feel free to share them however you wish!”

So, I’ve created a torrent of the files. You can download the torrent here. Please note that, since I just created the torrent, I’m the only seeder – so you’ll need to be patient with the download! I’d also ask, if it’s not too inconvenient, that you please help seed the files, at least for a while, once you’ve downloaded them. That way the whole brunt of the downloads won’t be placed on my internet connection.


UPDATE: I screwed up the creation of the torrent, using a tracker that won’t work. I’m recreating the torrent now; I’ll post a new link soon. Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE #2: Alright, here is the new torrent link. Please ignore the numbers (0 seeds, 0 leechers); I know for a fact they’re wrong. I checked the actual seeding files a few minutes ago, and there were 25 peers connected out of a total queue of 66. And I know there’s at least one seed – me.

Wheelock’s Latin Answer Key

Wheelock’s Latin is a great textbook, but it can prove to be a bit difficult to use on your own, especially if you can’t check a lot of your answers! While there are answers for some of the exercises in the back of the book, this isn’t true for those found throughout the chapters.

Thankfully, if you are an independent learner, a teacher,  or are homeschooling someone, HarperCollins will happily provide you with an answer key. You have to fill out a simple form to request access to the key; this form can be found here ( They do this simply to prevent people in high school or college Latin courses having easy access to the answers. A minor inconvenience to independent learners, but it makes sense.

Best of luck in your studies!

Google Translate now has a dictionary

Google recently released their new dictionary feature on their translate page. While they offer fairly simple translations (and don’t give any contextual information about the translations – yet), something I thought was pretty cool was that they do offer a large number of “related phrases” for whatever you search for. For example, if you search for an English-German translation for “language”, for the translations, you get:

1. Sprache f 2. (Fach)Sprache f 3. ordinäre Sprache 4. Spr, Sprache

While I won’t list all of them (you can see all of them here), here are some of the related phrases that are offered:

Certainly, it needs a lot of work – plural forms aren’t given, irregular verbs aren’t marked, nor are the irregular forms given, etc. But I think it’s a good start, and the related phrases thing is nice, even if the definition section leaves a bit to be desired.

The languages available right now are:

  • French <-> English
  • German <-> English
  • Italian <-> English
  • Korean <-> English
  • Spanish <-> English

Slow German podcast from Annik Rubens

I blogged earlier this month about listening to Schlaflos in München to work on your German listening skills. In my previous post, I neglected to mention that Annik also offers a special version of Schlaflos for learners of German, Slow German. With these, she selects a topic from one of her podcasts and does it again, except slowly (I bet you couldn’t have guessed that based on the title, huh? 😉 ). Each episode of Slow SiM (Schlaflos in München) also has a complete transcript, so you can hunt down the words you can’t quite understand while listening.

You can access all of the episodes of Slow German here, at You can access the latest episode, along with its associated transcript, at

The top 2000 words in Russian

I came across a good resource for learners of Russian just now: this page, which has the top 2000 words used in modern Russian. The words provided are based on The frequency dictionary for Russian.

According to the frequency dictionary, the top 2000 most used words in Russian account for 72% of the word forms used in texts, so if you learn these, you’ll be well on your way to being able to (slowly) work your way through many Russian texts. The site provides both lists of the words, coupled with their usage frequency, along with their parts of speech, and of course, the translations. Also available are quizes for all of the words.

While the frequency dictionary page doesn’t offer any definitions, they offer lists of Russian words beyond the top 2000. They offer one list of “32,000 words with frequency greater than 1 ipm (one instance per million).” They offer a second list, with the top 5,000 most often used words in Russian. I’d say the latter would be more useful for learners of Russian.

There’s a bit of “interesting” data on the frequency dictionary page which I enjoyed reading:

  • The average word length is 5.28 characters.
  • The average sentence length is 10.38 words.
  • 1000 most frequent lemmas cover 64.0708% of word forms in texts.
  • 2000 most frequent lemmas cover 71.9521% of word forms in texts.
  • 3000 most frequent lemmas cover 76.6824% of word forms in texts.
  • 5000 most frequent lemmas cover 82.0604% of word forms in texts.

I think it’s interesting to note that the first 2000 words gets you to 72%, and yet learning another three thousand words will only gain another 10%. Diminishing returns, ineed. 🙂

Russian grammar overview and dictionary from Cornell

Earlier today I was looking around online for some Russian material, namely a grammar overview. I ended up finding that, and quite a lot more!

For grammar, Cornell has the Beginning Russian Grammar page. While all of the essentials of Russian grammar seem to be covered there, the explanations might seem a bit short for beginners. However, it’s a good reference page if you’re already well along the Russian language road.

What I found far more interesting, however, is their Russian Dictionary Tree. It’s an expanded version of this book, 5000 Russian Words: With All Their Inflected Forms and Other Grammatical Information. The authors of the book, who apparently work at Cornell, have made the expanded online version available for anyone to use. Considering the stand-alone CD version offered by Lexicon Bridge Publishers costs $54.50, this is quite a deal, to have it online for free!

Here’s the description of the Russian Dictionary Tree from Lexicon Bridge Publishers:

This 12,000-entry dictionary allows you to search for a Russian or English word, and gives you all the forms and all the endings for every word. Unlike many electronic dictionaries, it is not an abridged version of a printed dictionary. On the contrary, definitions are far more detailed, and many entries contain examples and extensive notes on style and usage.

I’ve looked up a few words thus far, and they aren’t kidding – it’s quite thorough! All of the words I’ve looked up have had a complete declension table, but most of them also had example sentences showing how the word was used.

To use the dictionary, there’s only one thing you have to do: install one of Cornell’s Russian fonts. This is because they use a special font that allows them to place accent marks over letters. It’s not hard to install, though, if you follow their short instructions.