“Quite” seems a very British word.  It’s used a lot here.  Americans think of the sophisticated Englishman in the movies saying a bitingly sarcastic “quite” in response to… probably something an American said.  It’s used often in common speech as well.

As an American coming to Britain, I used the word “quite” more than I did in the US as I heard it used all around me and I wanted to fit in.  But it was only after several years in the country that I realized I was often using it wrong.

Continue reading

Ukraine is Just the Beginning

Russia has now proposed an easing of tensions with the West over its ambitions for parts of Ukraine, including Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  But even as relief is in sight there, we must realize that Ukraine is only the beginning of the list of European trouble spots with connections to Russia.

The former Soviet republic of Moldova has a breakaway Russian-speaking region called Transnistria that has 1600 Russian troops stationed within its borders.  There are fears that Russia could invade Western Ukraine in order to reach Transnistria.  Or put another way, Russia could use Transnistria as an excuse to invade much more of Ukraine than simply its Russian-speaking eastern and southern parts.

If fears of Russia reaching across other territories to come to the aid of Russian speakers are to be taken seriously, then Transnistria is small potatoes.  The real problem of Europe is Kaliningrad.

Continue reading