BUSINESS IS IN THE HAT!

An LJ post by glo_ku (in a sort of English after the first paragraph) reveals a wonderfully Joycean sense of wordplay, and would make an excellent test of a student’s mastery of Russian idioms, colloquialisms, and slang. The “Russian” part starts off “Глад бонжурствовать юс апресле лунгаминного абсенствия” [Glad bonzhurstvovat' yus apresle lungaminnogo absenstviya], which when looked at through multilingual glasses translates as “Glad to greet you after the long absence,” and proceeds to become too multilingual even for me (I have no idea what “взыл мучень бешафнят” means). The “English” part starts “The events I’d like to tell you about took place in a small town of Derry Vushko right after the old fart Party Zahn have thrown away the hooves”; “Derry Vushko” is the Russian word деревушка [derevushka] ‘small town,’ Party Zahn is партизан [partizan] ‘partisan’ (the partisan fighting behind enemy lines is a familiar figure in Russian/Soviet life and literature), and “thrown away the hooves” is отбросил копыта [otbrosil kopyta (thanks, Valera!)], a slang phrase comparable to “kicked the bucket.” Similarly, later on дифирамб [difiramb, 'dithyramb, eulogy'] becomes “Dee Fee Rumba” and катить бочку [katit' bochku, 'to take action to harm someone else's career'] is literally rendered as “to roll a barrel.” It’s lots of fun if you like that sort of thing. (Via Anatoly.)

Comments

  1. Valera Fooksman says:

    “взыл мучень бешафнят” = “was/был mucho/очень beschäftigt/занят”
    А также, не “бросил”, а “отбросил” копыта.

  2. ha-ha! the nickname of the blogger is a giveaway – it’s a tribute to the famous Glokaya Kuzdra by Academician Lev Sherba, a nonsensical but grammatically correct sentence.

  3. marie-lucie says:

    Sort of like Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky:
    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/Did gyre and gimble in the Wabe. /All mimsy were the borogoves/And the mome raths outgrabe..
    The poem, especially the first stanza, is quoted in almost every textbook in linguistics, to make the same point as Glokaya Kuzdra.

  4. Thanks for both the explanation and the correction, Valera, and thanks for Sherba, Sashura!

  5. m-l: A closer analog to the Russian is “The gostak distims the doshes,” less well known (obviously) to the public at large than Jabberwocky but well known to anyone concerned with semiotics and designed to make the same point Sherba was making.

  6. oh, thanks, I didn’t know about gostak and have never thought of Jabberwocky in this sense.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    The gostak distims the doshes
    There is a difference between this sentence, which is grammatical but uninterpretable because it uses unknown words, and Chomsky’s Colorless ideas sleep furiously which is also grammatical, but nonsensical because the words, which are part of general English vocabulary and individually easily interpreted, are semantically incompatible.
    For a sample of uninterpretability I do prefer Jabberwocky.

  8. And here’s an interpretation of Jabberwocky into mathematical jargon — unfortunately still nonsensical:
    ‘Twas Euclid and the theorem pi
    Did plane and solid in the text,
    All parallel were the radii,
    And the ang-gulls convex’d.
    “Beware the Wentworth-Smith, my son,
    And the Loci that vacillate;
    Beware the Axiom, and shun
    The faithless Postulate.”
    He took his Waterman in hand;
    Long time the proper proof he sought;
    Then rested he by the XYZ
    And sat awhile in thought.
    And as in inverse thought he sat
    A brilliant proof, in lines of flame,
    All neat and trim, it came to him.
    Tangenting as it came.
    “AB, CD,” reflected he —
    The Waterman went snicker-snack —
    He Q. E. D.-d, and, proud indeed,
    He trapezoided back.
    “And hast thou proved the 29th?
    Come to my arms, my radius boy!
    Oh good for you! O one point two!”
    He rhombused in his joy.
    ‘Twas Euclid and the theorem pi
    Did plane and solid in the text,
    All parallel were the radii,
    And the ang-gulls convex’d.
         —Emma Rounds, “Plain [sic] Geometry”

  9. While The gostak distims the doshes has something to commend it self: it’s remade into a classical game. I didn’t finish this one, though.

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