A nation’s phraseology can tell us a lot about its representatives. Be home and dry,
an Englishman’s home is his castle could only be invented by the Brits, right? Not at all. And though «мой дом – моя крепость» does not have a Russian origin, it is still in our language and thus reflects our mentality in some way. So the perception of a home is the same in this country and in England, isn’t it? No, it’s not.
What is a home for a Brit? The concept of home is broader than a physical dwelling. Many people think of home in terms of where they grew up, or a time rather than a place. It is something precious, something that stays with one forever and is not likely to change. And it should not be changed, since the English are known for their wish to keep everything the way it is. “Home is where the heart is” is perfectly true on the one hand, but on the other it might be changed to “my heart is where my home is”, which reflects real life still better.
The attitude of the Russians is slightly different. Of course, our home is a nice place which we have tender feelings for. We spend lots of time and money on repairing everything in our flat. “Current repairs” or “preventive maintenance” are the collocations favoured by many in this country. And yet many people are devoid of the pleasure. They would have gladly refurbished their flat, painted the walls anew, or whitewashed the ceilings once again – if only a home of their own were not a dream unattainable. To my mind, one of the greatest problems the Russians face is not Putin’s policy (do we really need democracy after all?), not the price for oil and not even the rather strained relations with the EU. We don’t care much about the depletion of the ozone layer. We only need a place of our own, which is at our disposal, reflects our lifestyle and meets our requirements – and a lot of Russians spend all their lives saving money to buy one.
A typical Brit would have been happy to lead the life of a recluse in his own house. A typical Russian would have given parties at his place every other day. The difference between the English home as a castle and Russian home as a stronghold is in the way of life of the peoples and in the level of security. The English protect themselves from their neighbours, the Russians take in account police and services of the kind as well – who knows what these guys are up to, especially if you have a son who is older than 17 and younger than 27 and hasn’t served in the army yet?
The differences between us and the Brits in this respect are immense. But there’s one point in which we are united and which cannot be found in any phraseological dictionary: each person needs a home to live in, to hide himself from other people and to repair from time to time.