Anatoly has a hilarious post describing his desperate attempts to figure out what was amiss with his incorrectly remembered Russian word дикозабр [dikozabr]. He saw a picture of one, wanted to know how to say it in English, looked it up, and quickly realized he must be mangling the true word… but he couldn’t for the life of him figure out what that was. He tried changing some of the sounds around in his head, but got nowhere. Googling only got four results, but one of them was very promising; a woman wrote: “Сказала слово ‘дикозабр’ и долго не могла понять, что же в нем не так….” (“I said the word ‘dikozabr’ and for a long time couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it…”). However, when he visited the site, he discovered that the end was “…and only by looking through an alphabetical encyclopedia of animals was I able to find it”! He objurgates her for not writing down the word, adding “How are we to build a brighter future with such people?” Then he asks his wife, and she tells him the answer. He ends his post:
In a minute I’ll click on the Publish button, this entry will appear in the journal, and soon it will appear in search results on the word “dikozabr.” I know, I believe—there will be someone tomorrow, or next month or next year, who will be as I am today, rushing around the net to find the correct name of the dikozabr. I can see him opening this post, impatiently scanning the text, getting a sneaking suspicion that I will spite him the way devushka.ru did me and I won’t say the secret, coveted word here… Fear not, future reader! To describe the whole story only to maliciously stand you up in the end—I couldn’t do that. The word you’re craving is дикобраз [dikobraz, ‘porcupine’].
The odd thing is that дикобраз has never seemed a suitable word to me somehow. I absorbed other animal names without a problem: sobaka ‘dog,’ koshka ‘cat,’ loshad’ ‘horse,’ sure… but for some reason dikobraz just didn’t sound like a porcupine.