Having finished Sergei Aksakov‘s wonderful Семейная хроника, which I had read years ago in its English translation as The Family Chronicle, I’m now reading his follow-up, Воспоминания [Memoirs] (translated as A Russian Schoolboy), which oddly uses real family names instead of the “Bagrovs” of the earlier book — it must have been an odd experience reading them when they were published together as a book in 1856. At any rate, at the start of the book eight-year-old Sergei is taken by his parents to Kazan in the winter of 1799, and one night as he has just gotten to sleep he is dragged off to visit his parents’ friends the Knyazheviches, whose house “отличался вполне славянской надписью над воротами: ‘Добрые люди, милости просим!'” [was notable for the thoroughly Slavic inscription over the gate: “Welcome, good people!”]. A footnote explains:
Надпись по длинноте и крупноте букв не умещалась, а потому была написана следующим образом: “Д. Л. Милости просим”. Читая буквы по-старинному, то есть “Добро Люди”, получался почти тот же смысл, какой выражался бы в полной надписи.
There wasn’t room for the inscription because of its length and the large letters, so it was written as follows: “D. L. Milosti prosim”. Reading the letters the old-fashioned way, that is “Dobro [good] Lyudi [people],” the same sense was expressed as in the full inscription.