Thomas Mackenzie (1740-1786)
Фома Фомич Мекензи
Another prominent Scottish name in the military history of Russia and a true defender of our Fatherland is Rear Admiral Thomas Mackenzie, better known as Фома Фомич Мекензи (1740-1786).
He was born in Russia to the Scottish family of Thomas Mackenzie – Фома Калинович Мекензи (his father’s name was Colin, but it looks like the spelling with an ‘a’, that brings to mind a certain berry, appealed to the Russians more), and Ann Mackenzie, the granddaughter of Admiral Thomas Gordon – another “Russian” Scot who lived in Peter the Great’s time and was Governor of Kronstadt.
Thomas Mackenzie had a brilliant career in the Russian Navy starting as a midshipman and rising through the ranks to rear admiral.
Thomas Mackenzie took part in many battles in the Russo-Turkish Wars (1768-1774). But what he is most famous for is the fact that it was him who founded the city of Sevastopol on 14 June 1783. It happened when he had to spend the winter in the uninhabited bay of Akhtiar on the Crimean Peninsula. He had with him nine frigates and several smaller ships. The city he had in mind was a base for the navy that would have a shipyard, a hospital, barracks for the sailors and living quarters for the officers. Thomas Mackenzie successfully implemented his plan; and today, the Mackenzie heights (Мекензиевы горы) on the outskirts of Sevastopol remind us of the brave and insightful Foma Fomitch.
Here are some navy words used in the post!
'midshipman - try saying this word very quickly and you will get its Russian translation! (мичман). In fact, this is a fantastic example of trans-language assimilation (not that the term really exists!) Midshipman is a compound word made up of three little ones: mid+ship+man, all three monosyllabic with short vowels. The middle one - ship - is the least noticeable out of the three due to the voiceless consonants and a clipped vowel. [p] becomes completely assimilated with the following [m]; -sh- together with [d] form the voiceless affricate -tch-; [i] becomes voiceless and disappears altogether. So what is left to the Russian ear? Мичман. That's what.
rear admiral - a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral (контр-адмирал).
My name is Elena Rafaelevna Watson, I have been teaching English as a foreign language for over 25 years now. I have also been translating and interpreting (English/Russian) for over 20 years.