While frantically searching for participants in a study that Just Won’t Cooperate (that fact may or may not have to do with my having exactly 0 training in empirical methods beyond freshman biology), I wrote some of my favorite Russians. In the note, it occurred to me that I should use the diminuitive form of the word “place” to make my request “please fill in the blanks” friendlier and more polite. Having studied Russian for 4 years, you’d think I’d be equipped to deal with this seemingly simple task. Mesto = place, so I figured mestechko was a likely guess for the diminuitive and plugged it on in.

Then I Googled. That was the fatal mistake. Always Google first.
This is a mestechko:
And that is the story of how I asked my Russian friends to help fill up the shtetl.