Six Russian Riddles for Children
A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Moscow to visit a good friend of mine, Olya, who lived in Saint Petersburg when I studied here a few years ago, and recently got married and had a baby. I tend to love all babies but am particularly taken with the babies of close friends, and was instantly obsessed with baby Zhenya, who is a magnificently chubby and happy Russian baby. After Zhenya went to sleep, Olya showed me some of the children’s books she reads to Zhenya, one of which was a book of riddles. We thought it might be fun to put my Russian to the test and see if I could solve any of the riddles meant for Russian toddlers. Naturally, I didn’t get a single one right. But the task was both fun and helpful for my language skills, and entertaining (for Olya). I’ve included six of the riddles below both in Russian and English, and challenge you, dear reader, to give them your best shot. If you’re feeling particularly brave, go ahead and ignore the English translations. Keep in mind that these riddles are, of course, Russian, and thus reflect aspects of Russian culture that a foreigner might not naturally think of. Good luck!
1. Без рук, без ног, а ходить умеют.
What has no hands, no feet, but passes by?
2. Он стоит среди травы
В шляпе, но без головы.
У него одна нога,
Да и та без сапога.
What stands among the grass
Wears a hat but has no head
And has one leg,
But doesn’t wear a shoe?
3. Рук нет, а строить умеет.
What has no hands but is able to build?
4.Шубу два раза в год снимает. Кто под шубою гуляет?
Who walks under a fur coat that is removed twice a year?
5. Зимой и летом одним цветом.
What is the same color in both winter and summer?
6. Самого чуть видно, а песню слышно?
What can you barely see, even though you can hear its song?
Give up? If you’re anything like me, your brain is currently in a state of shock. Take a look at the answers below, and let us know in the comments how many you got right!
Answers: 1. Часы (a clock) 2. Гриб (a mushroom) 3. Птица (a bird) 4. Овца (a sheep) 5. Елка (a Christmas tree). 6. Комар (Mosquito).
Emily, studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg