Contra Bellum.

Via Anatoly Vorobey, Egor Trubnikov’s poem Илье ‘To Ilya [Muromets]‘ (who arose from the oven on which he had been lying for decades and became a bogatyr). My apologies to non-Russian-speakers; I thought briefly of trying to translate it, but the press of work makes it impossible to even consider expending that much time and effort. It’s an appeal to would-be warriors to turn off the television that’s filling their heads with warmongering lies and go do something better with their time: you’ve had two world wars, are you really so bored and restless that you want a third? But it’s filled with the most vile obscenities Russian has to offer; by my count, 28 of its 102 words are obscene, and many of the others are vulgar (often military/criminal) slang. The first line will give an idea: “Чо, зажрались, суки, бляди, пидарасы, мудачьё?” Чо, usually written чё, is the common/vulgar spoken form of что; зажраться is slang for ‘to be so glutted with food, and more generally the good things of life, that you become capricious’; сука is literally ‘bitch’ but is used far more widely than the English word as a term of opprobrium, for both sexes, and occurs in the phrase/oath (used later in the poem) сукой буду “I’ll be a сука [if what I say isn’t true]”; блядь literally means ‘whore’ but, as Alexei K. says in this comment, it “is used as a noun and as an expletive, similar to the double use of putain and kurwa, but more and more as an expletive and less and less as a noun” (as I said in that post, my unbelievably foul-mouthed pal Anatoly Lifshits included at least one блядь in every sentence — compare this line of the poem: “Захотелось блять медалей на могилу блять свою?”); пидарас is a regrettably common homophobic slur; and мудачьё is a delightful collective noun based on мудак ‘dickhead, asshole.’ The percentage of obscene language is far greater than in my previous gold standard, “A Ramble in St. James’s Park” by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (“he is as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry… In 1669 he committed treason by boxing the ears of Thomas Killigrew in sight of the monarch, and in 1673 he accidentally delivered an insulting diatribe to the King. He died at the age of 33 from venereal disease”). I have to agree with one of Anatoly’s commenters that выкинь/калики is a weak rhyme, but otherwise it’s a masterful performance.

I am posting it not only for its own sake but because it taught me some Russian I did not know: the indeclinable interjections ёба and ёбана, the slang term говноящик ‘shitbox’ for ‘television,’ and the dialectal verb мститься ‘to appear, seem.’ I was taken aback by the stress с пеЧИ in the last line, since my Словарь ударений [Dictionary of Stress] specifically mandates “с ПЕчи” with the stress on the penultimate; I wrote Anatoly, who responded with his usual prompt helpfulness, saying “I don’t think I’m familiar with the pronunciation с ПЕчи at all. I don’t know if it’s a recent development, but in my idiolect it’s strictly с пеЧИ and на пеЧИ.” He looks at the poetical corpus on ruscorpora.ru and finds that “counter to my expectations, the penultimate stress is much more frequent in poetry.” When I asked about stress with other prepositions, he said “I think I could say either из ПЕчи or из пеЧИ with no strong preference, but only от пеЧИ, not the penultimate variant.” All this is news to me (and the Словарь ударений), and now I’m curious about the usage of my Russian-speaking readers. Do you also use final stress in those phrases?

Comments

  1. Both ПЕчи & пеЧИ are attested in classic rhymes. In the eternal folk fairytale about Bunny’s Hut, the Rooster sings:
    – Кукареку!
    Иду на пятах,
    Несу косу на плечах,
    Хочу Лису посечи,
    Слезай, Лиса, с печи!
    Поди, Лиса, вон!

    which would indicate first-syllable stress. But a folk ditty,
    Все, что в печи, на стол мечи,
    is rhymed in a way which stresses the 2nd syllable.

    Dahl’s proverbs also show both stresses: Сижу подле печи да грею плечи but Лежи на печи да ешь калачи

    сука is literally ‘bitch’
    but not literally so in the exclamation “I’ll be a сука” which is alluding to the gang antagonism between [sellout] “Bitches” vs. [old style] “Thieves” which used to rage in the Soviet penal system.

  2. “A Ramble” isn’t really obscene, it just calls sexual things by their four-letter names. There are no real insults in it, and though the object of the poem is condemned, it’s for specific misbehavior.

  3. Dmitry Prokofyev says:

    My feeling (all I can offer, alas) is that пЕчи is a more archaic pronunciation, akin to the Church Slavonic form пещи (as in “три отрока в пещи огненной”). In my experience, печИ is definitely the dominant colloquial form for all relevant cases (genitive, dative, and prepositional), while the plural nominative is just as definitely пЕчи,

  4. Both ПЕчи & пеЧИ are attested in classic rhymes.

    Right, but what I’m interested in is what Russians today actually say. Also, there’s a difference between в печи, where you’d expect a stress in the locative (and in fact it’s so marked in my dictionary), and с печи, where you (or at least I) wouldn’t expect it.

    but not literally so in the exclamation “I’ll be a сука”

    I know, but there’s only so much I can cram in between a pair of semicolons!

    “A Ramble” isn’t really obscene, it just calls sexual things by their four-letter names.

    You’d have a hard time convincing Anthony Comstock or his present-day acolytes of that distinction, though.

  5. In my experience, печИ is definitely the dominant colloquial form for all relevant cases (genitive, dative, and prepositional), while the plural nominative is just as definitely пЕчи,

    Thanks, that’s just what I was looking for! But when you say genitive, do you mean only after a preposition, or in general?

  6. Dmitry Prokofyev says:

    when you say genitive, do you mean only after a preposition, or in general?

    Both, I believe. У него в доме даже печИ нету. Погреться у печИ.

    Then again, in most cases (unless it’s about a genuine full-scale Russian oven, which isn’t something one encounters very often – or ever – nowadays), the diminutive печка is much more likely to be used – and there’s no doubt whatsoever as to where to stress this one.

  7. Then again, in most cases (unless it’s about a genuine full-scale Russian oven, which isn’t something one encounters very often – or ever – nowadays), the diminutive печка is much more likely to be used – and there’s no doubt whatsoever as to where to stress this one.

    Good points, and the fact that the base word is semi-obsolete makes it understandable that the stress might shift.

  8. Dmitry Prokofyev says:

    I wouldn’t go as far as to call it even semi-obsolete, but it does tend to get a limited use: to be used specifically rather than generically or professionally rather than colloquially. E.g. an oven-building manual or drawing, even at the DIY level, would probably use печь rather than печка even now.

  9. Gotcha.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Захотелось блять медалей на могилу блять свою?

    That is fucking sublime.

  11. SFReader says:

    Couple of very kind Russian songs about future world war….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjJKV6fVvnM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXube-xhYyE

  12. Alexey says:

    Although пидарас is undoubtedly homophobic in its origin, in most cases it seem to have lost most of its negative connotations against gays, like here:

    – Сара, Сара, представляешь, Абрам-то, оказывается, пидарас!
    – Что, занял деньги и не вернул?
    – Нет, в хорошем смысле пидарас!

  13. I have to admit that gave me a laugh.

  14. -Sara, Sara, Abram the vision, it turns out, motherfuckers!
    -That took the money and did not return?
    -No, in the good sense of the bridge!

    Puzzling.

  15. Il vergognoso says:

    A GT-able version:
    Встречается Мойша и Давид.
    Мойша: ты представляешь что сегодня я узнал, а Лев, оказывается, пидарас!
    Давид: что – денег не вернул?!
    Мойша: да нет – в хорошем смысле этого слова.

    Meets Moishe and David.
    Moishe: do you imagine that today I’ve learned, and Leo, it turns out, pidaras!
    David: What – the money is not returned ?!
    Moishe: yes no – in the best sense of the word.

  16. @John Cowan

    -Sarah, Sarah, can you imagine, it turns out Abram is a faggot!
    – Why, did he borrow money and not repay it?
    – No, in the good sense of the word.

  17. What I can’t figure out is how пидарас became “bridge.”

  18. It is печИ definitely as spoken around here.

  19. >What I can’t figure out is how пидарас became “bridge.”
    on my Android GT translates пидорас as fag. It doesn’t understand пидарас.

    On a related note, there’s the famous saying “Один раз — не пидорас”. Hard to translate…

  20. marie-lucie says:

    пидарас / пидорас

    Could this word be a Russianized version of French pédéraste ‘male homosexual’? or of the Greek original? Could the o in пидорас be influenced by the one in pédophile ?

  21. SFReader says:

    yes, pidoras is a vulgar version of pederast which comes indeed from French pédéraste.

    Also commonly shortened to pidor (Serbo-Croat slang is more logical “peder”)

    -Один раз — не пидорас

    Being buggered once doesn’t make you a faggot!

  22. Marie-Lucie: it’s certainly from French and in Russian the borrowed form is педераст. The rest is usual adaptation to the Russian phonetics.

  23. I didn’t have access to GT when I posted that, so I was using a different online translator.

  24. Could the o in пидорас be influenced by the one in pédophile ?
    Could be, but part of it is just fluctuation between writing “o” and “a” in unstressed syllables of words for which there is no established orthography (like swear words) – the stress in пидорас is on the last syllable. Unstressed “o” and “a” are pronounced the same (anything between [ɐ] and [ə], depending on position and surroundings) and people get it wrong quite often even in words for which there is an established orthography. As an example, I have seen even well-educated Russian speakers mixing up kompániya “company” and kampániya “campaign” in writing – both are pronounced exactlky the same way.

  25. marie-lucie says:

    Hans, Thank you. I thought of the Russian o/a confusion, but I also wondered about a potential influence. The vowel confusion is probably the source of the difference.

  26. Yes, and online people deliberately use the wrong vowels because it looks cooler that way, sort of like omitting capital letters and using abbreviations like “omg” in English.

  27. I had my own pan-Slavic moment in Split when I saw football-related graffiti with the words prosrali and pederi.

    As far furnaces are concerned, instinctively, I would say “с печИ,” perhaps under the influence of the prepositional case (“всё, что есть в печИ, на стол мечи”) but, as Dmitry Prokofyev notes, it’s unlikely I would ever use this word at all. In an industrial context, perhaps (“из мартеновской печи”), but trade-speak stress can cause great offense to cultural enforcers (“дОбыча углЯ”).

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