A reader (thanks, Bill!) sent me this piece by Will Englund from the Washington Post about the linguistic changes that have accompanied or prefigured recent political upheavals in Russia; here’s the core of it:
But if there’s a single word that stands out day after day as people denounce, lambaste and lampoon the Russian authorities, it’s an old one that over time has taken on a new meaning. The word is dostali, and it means “fed up.” […]
More recently the faddish response was voobshche, a word that literally means “in general” but took on a sense akin to the English “You gotta be kidding me!”
But now Russians are fed up. From passively standing by while a nightmare enveloped them, they moved into a state of incredulity. Now, faced with mushrooming corruption, arrogance and stupidity, they say, “Enough. We’re fed up.” And when people are fed up, the implication is that they’re not going to take it anymore. […]
In Soviet times, dostali meant getting something that was hard to obtain. Now it has been flipped around and literally means that something or someone you don’t like has gotten to you.
It’s nice that they’re doing a piece on Russian usage and citing actual Russians, like Olga Severskaya and Mikhail Epstein, but is this really a new development? I know достать [dostát’] ‘to fetch; reach; get’ has had the slang sense ‘to irritate (someone), get under (someone’s) skin’ for some time; has it acquired the stronger sense ‘to make someone fed up (so that they won’t take it anymore),’ or is that just an overinterpretation by the reporter?