It was in March of 2004 that the miracle with Buster the Russian Tortoise happened — and I don’t use the term “miracle” lightly. That’s what it was: a miracle. Trust me. You can read all about it here if you’d like.

BusterIn a nutshell, while Susan and I were out and about running errands all over town the normally heights-wary and edge-aware Buster somehow fell 15-feet off of the balcony of the apartment I was living in at the time, and a whole big series of events transpired to deliver us back to the building at the exact same very moment that a neighborhood kid was walking away with Buster in his hands, who had not only survived the fall uninjured but then managed to make her way around from the back of the building to the side of the building to the street where the kid found her a few moments before we drove  up with me saying something like “Hey, that’s my tortoise!”

Seriously, give or take a few seconds earlier or later and Buster would’ve been gone and I’d literally be spending the rest of my days perplexed and dumbfounded wondering how she just vanished. It would’ve driven me crazy.

So like I said: MIRACLE.

Shortly after that I decided to rename Buster, whose moniker had been bestowed because the tortoise’s expression resembled Buster Keaton’s famous stoneface, and also because back in our first days together I was incorrect in thinking she was a he.

Her new name? Simple and entirely fitting: the Russian word for “miracle,” which I set out across the internest to find. But the only thing I learned was that it was much easier read than said. See, the trouble was back in that time, there wasn’t one single translation service I knew of that offered anglicized phonetic pronunciations of words in Russian. Seeing as that alphabet is entirely different from our own, I would type in:

miracle

and after selecting English-to-Russian, would get back:

Which is absolutely lovely, but didn’t do a whole lot of good for someone trying to find out how the word sounded.

I guess I could have called the nearest Russian consulate or language instructor, or posted an ad on Craigslist begging to be told how to speak the word, but I didn’t. Instead I gave up and Buster, who of course couldn’t have cared less what we called her, stayed Buster. Occasionally I’d get on the web and try to find the answer again, but always ran into the same dead end.

Until yesterday, when I learned that Google’s released a mobile translator app that spoke the words and phrases, only to be disappointed that it wasn’t available for the iPhone. Shaking my head I went to Google Translate and for the countless time entered “miracle” into the appropriate box. Then I selected the proper “from” and “to” languages and sure enough all I got was:

But wait a minute… what was that and where did it come from? Before my eyes was a “show romanization” text link and when I clicked it — wait for it… it was a miracle, Below the cyrillic version was how it sounded out:

So. FINALLY. After five years of occasionally wondering and ever-failing to find out how it is one pronounces my miracle tortoise’s long sought-after name, I’ve found it. It’s Chudo!

Kinda catchy!