Furniture in Russian: I will have something to sit on in Russian and English
“Мама, а как по-английски табуретка?” (Mama, what is English for “tabuhretka”?)
And without event giving it a second thought I answered: “Stool”.
“Нет, не стул, а табуретка. Ты знаешь, такой стульчик без спинки.” ( No, not chair, taburetka, a chair without a back, you know).
I stopped feeding breakfast to the baby, looked at her and said: ” Стул по-русски, это по-английски chair. А табуретка по-русски, это по-английски stool, тот, который без спинки.” (Stool in Russian means a chair in English. And taburetka in Russian means a stool in English, the one that has no back.)
She looked at me and said happily: ” At least if I ask for a stool, I will have something to sit on in Russian and English!”
It’s a common thing in our household for me to find out that some vocabulary that she is familiar with in Russian is new or unknown to her in English and vice versa, but this was a particularly cute moment.
Another piece of furniture that constantly is misnamed in our household is my husband’s desk. I always call it a table.
His desk is located in a part of our dining room so when he asks me, “Where is X?” and I answer: “It’s in the dining room, on the table.” He comes back and complain that he did not find it there. Then when I go there, I will clearly see the item on his DESK and he starts explaining that ” It’s not a table, it’s a desk”.
And believe me, I know it’s a desk. BUT. In Russian it’s still a table, although it can be called a work table, it’s a table and if I am not thinking about it, I will still call it a table in English, totally forgetting that confusing point of it actually being a desk in English…
As you can see we clearly have furniture confusion in our bilingual household!
So, today I decided to go over some of the vocabulary for furniture in Russian vs English. By no means is this a full or comprehensive list, just something to play around with your kids or your students.
chair – стул
stool – табуретка
table – стол
desk – (рабочий) стол
student desk – парта
coffee table – кофейный столик
sofa – софа, диван
couch, ottoman – тахта
arm chair – кресло
bed – кровать
cupboard – буфет
wardrobe – шкаф
vanity – туалетный стол(-ик) с зеркалом
bedside table – тумба (тумбочка) прикроватная (но может быть и прикроватный столик)