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Slava Paperno

Senior Lecturer

Overview

Teaching Russian language courses; authoring books, video documentaries, and other materials for learning Russian; developing software and websites for students of Russian and other languages.

Click here for full bio from the Russian Language Program website.

Research

Known on our Facebook page as "Slava's Black Swan Manifesto," here are a few notes on language learning that describe some of the principles that inspire my teaching.

Language is not arithmetic. You don't learn a language in a specific order, and you don't learn something once and for all. You can, and usually do, learn by performing a variety of steps; you learn a portion of each step at a time; you learn gradually, adding one layer after another. It's like making a snowball.

You are not a robot. Everyone learns at his or her own pace. The pace is uneven: you seem to be stuck for a week or two, then suddenly you feel that you can do a lot more now; then the learning slows down again. Some people learn to read sooner than they learn to speak; for some people speaking comes more easily than understanding spoken speech.

It is useful to have a foreign accent. You may take months to learn how to make certain sounds while others can imitate the natives with little effort. Do not lose your accent: in Russia, when you sound like a foreigner, people give you allowances for your mistakes, and they pay attention to what you are trying to say.

Languages are not governed by rules. A programming language is based on rules while a natural language is a living, breathing, and often unpredictable system that does not follow static paths. What some people call "rules" are our observations on the behavior of the language. Like everywhere in nature, we see variation, change, and quirks. Okay, perhaps capitalization is governed by man-made rules, but capitalization is merely a cosmetic detail of the language.

Where there are no rules, there are no exceptions. Russian may have fewer than a dozen nouns that end in -mya but that doesn't make them an anomaly. They are lovely nouns. Three of them are extremely common. Just because something is rare, we don't have to call it an ugly duckling. Some of the so-called exceptions are easily explained by the history of the language... and some, yes, some are accidents. Natural history is full of them, too.

Lists are useless. Trying to memorize series of endings or words is largely unproductive. Yes, most textbooks come with vocabulary lists and glossary pages. Use them to test yourself every now and then if you like, but don't try to learn from those lists. We learn by hearing, reading, writing, typing, speaking, and thinking meaningful phrases again and again--by exercising as many of our abilities as we can. Mechanical learning and creative learning both have their legitimate place in language study. Variety and context are the key.

Guessing is learning. In a mathematical formula, if you don't know the value of a variable, you don't know the value of the equation. Language is better: you can guess. Think of your daily interaction with the world: you are guessing all the time. When your guess is verifiable, you learn from your guess; when it isn't, you store the experience for later. Use that strategy while reading in a foreign language, and even while listening. If you look up and write down the translation of every word, you'll never be able to read War and Peace.

We are all authors. Every time you make a statement, in your first language or in a foreign language, you create fiction. Statements like 2 + 2 = 4 may be facts, but most of what we say and write are our own inventions. They may be very close to reality or quite removed from it. This is not because we lie. It's because we are all artists. As we describe reality we shape the language as well. Remember this when the textbook tells you that you are breaking the "rules."

Courses

Publications

BOOKS

·         An English-Russian Dictionary of Nabokov's Lolita, compiled and with an introduction by A. Nakhimovsky and V. [Slava] Paperno, Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1982

·         Intermediate Russian: The Twelve Chairs by Slava Paperno, Alexander D. Nakhimovsky, Alice S. Nakhimovsky, and Richard L. Leed, Slavica Publishers, 1986; 2nd edition, 2001.

·         5000 Russian Words with All their Inflected Forms and Other Grammatical Information: A Russian-English Dictionary by Richard L. Leed and S. Paperno, Slavica Publishers, 1987.

·         A Russian-English Collocational Dictionary of the Human Body, by Lidija Iordanskaja and Slava Paperno, English equivalents by Lesli LaRocco and Jean MacKenzie, edited by Richard L. Leed, Slavica Publishers, 1996.

 

ARTICLES

·         B. Gasparov and V. [Slava] Paperno, "The English Oral Text: A Typological Study," in Linguistics X, Tartu, 1978.

·         J. Hagopian and S. Paperno, "Official and Unofficial Responses to V. Nabokov in the USSR," in The Achievements of Vladimir Nabokov, 1984: Cornell University Press.

·         S. Paperno, "The Lexical Status of the Word sdacha," in Russian Language Journal No. 129-130, Winter-Spring 1984.

·         S. Paperno, "Lexical Functions as a New Tool in Designing CALI Systems," in Proceedings of the 1985 Academic Information Systems: University AEP Conference, 1985.

·         Richard L. Leed and Slava Paperno, "Corrigenda to A. A. Zaliznyak, Grammaticheskij Slovar' Russkogo Yazyka," in Slavic and East European Journal, vol. 30. No. 1, Spring 1986.

·         Deborah McGraw and S. Paperno, "An Authoring System as a Tool for Foreign Language Learning," in Proceedings of the 1986 Academic Information Systems: University AEP Conference, 1986.

·         Slava Paperno and Richard L. Leed, "Vocabulary Words in Elementary Russian Textbooks," in Slavic and East European Journal, vol. 32. No. 2, Summer 1988.

·         Slava Paperno, "Unrehearsed Interviews from Russia," in Consortium News Spring 1994, reprinted in AATSEEL Newsletter, vol. 37, issue 4, January 1995.

·         Slava Paperno, "Unrehearsed Interviews from Russia," in Consortium News Spring 1994, reprinted in AATSEEL Newsletter, vol. 37, issue 4, January 1995.

·    “Non-traditional presentation of entries” in International Journal of Lexicography, Contents, Contexts, Comments: Round Table Discussion. Vol. 28 No. 3, 2015, pp. 416-424.

 

SOFTWARE

·         Cornell Russian Support for DOS programs for the use of Russian on personal computers, published by Cornell University, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (DMLL), 1986 and by Exceller Software, 1989 (with Peter Cassetta).

·         LabLog: A Teacher's Utility for Written Language Lab for DOS, published by Cornell University, DMLL, 1987 and by Exceller Software, 1989 (with Ellen Vesey and Peter Cassetta).

·         LabIndex: A Vocabulary database for Written Language Lab for DOS, published by Cornell University, DMLL, 1987 and by Exceller Software, 1989 (with Ellen Vesey and Peter Cassetta).

·         Morphology Exercises for IBM personal computers, to complement Intermediate Russian by S. Paperno, A. Nakhimovsky, A. Nakhimovsky, and R. Leed (for DOS) published by Slavica Publishers, 1987 and by Exceller Software, 1989.

·         Graduated Word-Nest Generator for Intermediate Russian: Vocabulary-Building Tool (for DOS), published by Exceller Software, 1989 (with Richard L. Leed and Catherine Chvany).

·         Word-Nest Editor (for DOS) published by Exceller Software, 1989.

·         12 Stories by M. Zoshchenko: An On-Screen Reader for students of Intermediate Russian (for MS Windows) Lexicon Bridge Publishers 1989-97 (with Lesli LaRocco).

·         The Russian Dictionary Tree: A Combinatorial Computer Dictionary of Modern Russian, (for MS Windows). Lexicon Bridge Publishers 1992-2008 (with Richard L. Leed and Peter Cassetta).

·         3-D Keyboard (for MS Windows), published by Exceller Software, 1992 (with Peter Cassetta); version 2.4 and later published by Fingertip Software, 1995.

·         Cyrillic Support for Windows, published by Exceller Software, 1992 (with Peter Cassetta and Richard L. Leed); version 3.0 and later (renamed Cyrillic Support 2000) published by Fingertip Software, 1996.

·         Beginning Russian Quizzes (for MS Windows), a multimedia computer program for students of elementary Russian. Lexicon Bridge Publishers 1993-97 (based on a book by Richard L. Leed et al).

·         Intermediate Russian Exercises (for MS Windows). Lexicon Bridge Publishers, 1993-97 (based on Intermediate Russian from Slavica Publishers).

·         Little Vera: Episodes (for MS Windows), an interactive multimedia course for students of advanced Russian, published by Cornell University, DMLL, 1993 (based on a Soviet feature film).

·         A Forgotten Tune for the Flute: Episodes (for MS Windows), an interactive multimedia course for students of advanced Russian, published by Cornell University, DMLL, 1993 (based on a Soviet feature film).

·         Let's Get Acquainted (for MS Windows), an interactive multimedia course for students of elementary Russian, published by Cornell University, DMLL, 1994 (with Viktoria Tsimberov, based on a Soviet film series).

·         12 Chairs Interactive (for MS Windows and Macintosh), an interactive multimedia course for students of intermediate and advanced Russian. Lexicon Bridge Publishers 1997.

·         A Russian-English Collocational Dictionary of the Human Body (for MS Windows and Macintosh), a CD-ROM version of the book from Slavica Publishers. Lexicon Bridge Publishers 1997.

·         HTML Basics, a tutorial and workshop by Slava Paperno, with assistance from Lesli LaRocco. CD-ROM. South Central Regional Library Council, 1999.

·         Introduction to JavaScript, a Web-based tutorial and workshop by Slava Paperno, with assistance from Lesli LaRocco. South Central Regional Library Council, 2000.

·         Style Sheets for Better Web Pages, a Web-based tutorial and workshop by Slava Paperno, with assistance from Lesli LaRocco. South Central Regional Library Council, 2000.

·         Revolutions from Above: a CD-ROM for intermediate Russian students by Sergei Maksudov and Natalia Pokrovsky. Designed, edited, and programmed by Slava Paperno. FC-IZDAT Publishers. 2000-2008.

·         Smart Web Site Management: Introduction to ColdFusion, a video CD-ROM and interactive Web site by Lesli LaRocco and Slava Paperno. South Central Regional Library Council, 2003.

·         Modern Russian Culture: A Course of Ideas and Images, a multimedia course on CD-ROM and Video DVD by Lauren G. Leighton. Conceptual design, editing, and programming by Slava Paperno. Lexicon Bridge Publishers, 2004.

·         Rusian Short Stories On Your Screen, a series of three DVD video discs. Produced by Slava Paperno to accompany Advanced Russian: from Reading to Speaking by Sophia Lubensky and Irina Odintsova. Lexicon Bridge Publishers, 2005.

·         Advanced Russian: from Reading to Speaking, an interactive multimedia course on DVD-ROM. With Sophia Lubensky and Irina Odintsova. Lexicon Bridge Publishers, 2008.

 

TELEVISION DOCUMENTARIES

·         Recipe-Free Cooking, 45 minutes, in Russian; 2015.

·         The Anthrax Diaries, 30-minute pilot, in progress (with Slawomir Grunberg and others).

·         Life on the Atomic River, 56 minutes, in Russian; 1993 (with Slawomir Grunberg).

·         Children from Russia, 56 minutes, in Russian; 1994 (with Slawomir Grunberg).

·         Adopting Olya, 30 minutes, in English; 1994 (with Slawomir Grunberg)

·         Michael and Svetlana, 90 minutes, in Russian; 1995 (with Slawomir Grunberg)

·         Interviews from Russia, 110 minutes, in Russian, 1995 (with Viktoria Tsimberov, camera work by Slawomir Grunberg)

·         Video in 3rd-year Russian, 30 minutes, a teacher’s resource; in Russian, 1995 (with Viktoria Tsimberov).

 

MAJOR WEB SITES

·         Beginning Russian Through Film, a World Wide Web site for a course in the Russian Language, Cornell University, originally hosted by the Department of Modern Languages, later by the Department of Russian, Cornell University. With Viktoria Tsimberov and Lora Paperno. 1995-2009

·         Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life, a multimedia World Wide Web site for historians, anthropologists, and students of Russian literature and language. Hosted by Colgate University, created in 2006-2008. With Alice Nakhimovsky, Nancy Ries, and Ilya Utekhin.

·         Web Audio Lab, an online authoring system for developing interactive audio- and video-based language courses. Language Resource Center, Cornell University. 2003-2016.

·         Cornell On-Line Language Tests (COLLT), an online testing system for language teachers and learners. Hosted by the Language Resource Center, Cornell University, created in 2006-2016.

 

TRANSLATIONS FROM ENGLISH TO RUSSIAN

BOOKS

·         Herman Melville, Moby Dick, abridged translation for children by D. Dar and V. [Slava] Paperno, Izdatel'stvo Detskaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1968; reprinted by Komsomolskaya Pravda/Amphora, Moscow-St. Petersburg, 2011 (ISBN 978-5-367-01485-3 and 978-5-367-02003-8).

·         Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Russian translation by T. Golenpol'sky and V. Paperno, Sibirskie Ogni, 1971.

·         Arthur Hailey, Hotel, Russian translation by T. Golenpol'sky and V. [Slava] Paperno, Sibirskie Ogni, 1972.

·         Robert Penn Warren, Meet Me in the Green Glen, Russian translation by T. Golenpol'sky and V. [Slava] Paperno, Moskva, 1975; also published by Kartya Modavenska, Kishinev, 1978.

·         Farley Mowat, A Whale for the Killing, Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, Zvezda, 1976; also published by Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1977 and 1979; abridged version published in Ocean and Man, Dal'nevostochnoye Knizhnoye Izdatel'stvo, Vladivostok, 1978.

·         Henry James, Washington Square, Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in Selected Works of Henry James in Two Volumes, compiled by V. [Slava] Paperno, Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1979.

·         Edward Ricciuty, Killers of the Sea, Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1980.

·         Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno and N. Tolstaya, published after Paperno's emigration under the pseudonym Tolstaya, Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1981.

·         Victor B. Sheffer, The Year of the Whale, Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, published after Paperno's emigration under the pseudonym A. Slavinskaya, Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1982.

 

SHORTER WORKS

·         Frank O'Connor, "Guests of the Irish Nation," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in Awakening: Irish Short Stories, Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1975.

·         Sean O'Faolain, "Do Not Fear the Sun" and Tom McIntyre, "Fable," Russian translation by Slava Paperno, in Irish Short Stories, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975.

·         Farley Mowat, "The Last Husky," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in the Avrora magazine. Leningrad, 1975.

·         E. M. Forster, "Another Kingdom," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in Selected Works of E. M. Forster, Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1977.

·         Bernard Shaw, "Epistle Dedicatory to Arthur Walkley," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in Complete Collection of Plays by Bernard Shaw, vol. 2, Iskusstvo, Leningrad, 1979.

·         Bernard Shaw, "Annajanska, the Wild Grand Duchess" and "Inka of Perusalem," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, in Complete Collection of Plays by Bernard Shaw, vol. 4, Iskusstvo, Leningrad, 1980.

·         Rudyard Kipling, "Todd's Amendment" and "Death-of-Women," Russian translation by V. Paperno, in Selected Works of Rudyard Kipling, Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Leningrad, 1980.

·         Bernard Shaw, "The Village Wooing" and "Geneva," Russian translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, published after Paperno's emigration under the pseudonyms L. Galina and N. Rakhmanova in Complete Collection of Plays by Bernard Shaw, vol. 6, Iskusstvo, Leningrad, 1981.

·         Two dozen stories (fiction and non-fiction) in the U. S. Information Agency monthly America Illustrated, 1982-1986.

 

TRANSLATIONS FROM RUSSIAN TO ENGLISH

·         O. Neverov, "Antique Intaglios in the Hermitage Collection," English translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1976.

·         "Watercolors of Samokhvalov," English translation by V. [Slava] Paperno, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1977.

·         Alexander Knaifel, The Canterville Ghost: Romantic Scenes for Soloists and Chamber Orchestra, libretto by T. Kramarova, English version by V. [Slava] Paperno, printed edition published by Sovetskiy Kompozitor, Leningrad-Moscow, 1977, music with my text premiered and recorded July 14, 1980 (http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/2b716fb923c44752a1c7d38af7163eb8) at the BBC concert hall in London, with David Thomas in the lead role.

·         "Artists from Soviet Central Asia," English translation by V. [Slava] Paperno and R. J. Rosengrant, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1978.

·         Henry Matisse: "Paintings and Scepters in Soviet Museums," English translation by V. [Slava] Paperno 97 and R. J. Rosengrant, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1978.

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