December 30th, 2017

Russian nicknames for siblings, family friends, parental figures, and one's children

I'm writing a modern story taking place in Eastern Canada, but it's set around two siblings discovering who they are as people and learning more about their Russian heritage. Both brothers (Stepan and Yakov) are eighteen, and have just been drafted into the NHL. For context, Stepan and Yakov were both orphaned at a young age and raised in the foster system (losing their heritage along the way) before being drafted into a team in Eastern Canada. Most new NHL players live with an older player for the first few years, and for my purposes they are living with Nikolai Alekseevich Stepankov, a Russian player. Nikolai will take up a vaguely parental role for Stepan and Yakov.

I am looking for information on nicknaming all three characters, how Stepan and Yakov would address Nikolai when they first met, and after they became closer, and what Nikolai would call Stepan and Yakov.

Right now I'm calling Stepan 'Stepka' from Yakov (as I read that the -ka endings come off as teasing and were generally used between close friends, but please tell me if I have misunderstood this), but I'm not sure what to call Yakov from Stepan's perspective. Would Yashka or Yaska be appropriate from Stepan's perspective? I've read that -enka and -ochka come off as parental in Russian, so would Nikolai call Stepan 'Stepenka' or 'Stenka' and Yakov 'Yashenka'?

I've done a lot of reading on Russian nicknames. I've found an article that straight-up lists diminutives for hundreds of Russian names, an article about using diminutives as a foreigner and Russian expectations, and other similar articles- they generally list a few diminutives and what would be appropriate for strangers, friends, and family. None of these articles have contained the sort of specific information I'm looking for in terms of appropriate nicknames from siblings. Furthermore, I am still unsure of how Stepan and Yakov would address Nikolai after they became closer (my understanding as that they would call him Nikolai Alekseevich at first). Is there a specific title for older family friends, or does aunt/uncle work in that role as it does in the Philippines?

Abseiling questions

Abseiling questions that are too elementary / naïve for Google to be of much help:

  • What happens if you panic and let go of the rope? I know there's a device that prevents you from plummeting to your doom, but at what point does it kick in - do you drop a few centimetres, half a metre, more? Do you spin? How easy/difficult is it (in practical terms not psychological) to resume your descent?

  • Apparently long abseils and potholers use something called a brake bar rack, a device for controlling descent. I watched a few videos and have a vague idea of how it works, but are there e.g. any bits you should never let go of when using this method?

  • Is military equipment significantly different in this regard?

  • If abseiling with others, how do you prevent your ropes from getting tangled? (Unless sharing a rope is an option, in which case whoopee.)

  • What other minor problems might arise during a descent? Assume equipment is in good condition and was set up by someone who knew what they were doing.

Context: character is abseiling freely into a deep (100-150m), very wide cave (no wall-hopping), accompanied by three others. All are using specialised military equipment. The rope is safely fixed near the roof/mouth of the cave, with people watching over it at the surface. Speed is not of the essence: they just need to reach the bottom without being pancaked. They also can't descend one by one, as there's a chance those left behind might be arrested (long story). Wind may be an issue: it's a closed cave, but with a very large space and several small openings to the surface.

Character is a soldier who hasn't practised in years and is currently discovering a previously-unknown fear of heights, which is not a good thing to discover when you're 120m above the next solid surface. He's not going to go over the edge (ha) but I do want to have an idea of what can happen to make him twitch, besides my overactive acrophobic imagination.

[crossposted from TV Tropes]
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