Edodoi.

From Lev Oborin’s FB post I learned about a delightful phenomenon, the spread via graffiti of the enigmatic word едодой [edodoi] across the streets of Krasnodar and then via social media throughout the Russian-speaking world, even turning up in the US scrawled next to a Trump Tower. There were plaintive tweets like “Так, а вы знаете, кто такой ЕДОДОЙ? Почему он везде пишет?” [So, do you know what this EDODOI is? Why is it written everywhere?] One person suggested it might be an ad for a pizza chain, another thought it was a mythical bird of the Kuban marshland. You can see many such questions and hypotheses, as well as lots of images, at Maria Vlasova’s Medialeaks write-up, where she quotes the solution to the riddle, as provided by Prost Post of Krasnodar:

На самом деле слово «едодой» (или «одедодой») означает «Это да!» ( «Вот это да!») Существуют и другие интерпретации перевода. Почему? Потому что это слово пошло из новояза, который придумал переводчик и поэт Валерий Нугатов.
В этой белиберде и смесь языков советского пространства, и элементы шифрования, и протест, — как говорят поклонники автора.
На его странице в фейсбуке можно наблюдать, как фанаты перекидываются односложными фразами секретного новояза, который, если приноровиться, легко поддаётся пониманию. Делают они это со скуки или всерьёз — неизвестно.

In reality, the word edodoi (or odedodoi) means Eto da! (Vot eto da!) [exclamation of enthusiasm and/or amazement that could be rendered “how about that!” or “that’s really something!”]. There exist other interpretations of the translation as well. Why? Because the word came out of the newspeak invented by the translator and poet Valery Nugatov.
In this nonsense and mixture of languages of the Soviet space there are elements of both encryption and protest, say the author’s admirers.
On his Facebook page you can see how fans toss at each other terse phrases of the secret newspeak which, if you accustom yourself to them, are easily understood. Whether they do this out of boredom or seriously is unknown.

Not only is it satisfying to learn the solution (I am not one of those who prefers mysteries to answers), I learned the word новояз, translating Orwell’s Newspeak; the first citation in the Национальный корпус русского языка is from Гибель Джонстауна [The destruction/death of Jonestown] (1978-1980) by Boris Vakhtin (son of the writer Vera Panova [thanks, Alex!]): “В этом тумане, среди неясностей, недоговоренностей, неконкретностей растет и развивается безликий, безнациональный, неукорененный и неплодный «новояз» («ньюспик»), тот «язык», в котором слово «мир» означает «война», слово «счастье» ― «горе», «совесть» ― «обман»…” [In this fog, among unclearness, unspokenness, lack of concreteness, there grows and develops a featureless, nationless, rootless, and fruitless “newspeak,” that “language” in which the word “peace” means “war,” the word “happiness” “grief,” “conscience” “deceit”…].

To quote Gregory of Tours, “a great many things keep happening, some good, some bad” [cum nonnullae res gererentur vel rectae vel inprobae] and to my mind edodoi is one of the good things.

Comments

  1. Novoyaz (Newspeak) has it’s own Wikipedia page in Russian (as well as in English), which states (quite correctly) that the meaning of the word is indeed extended to argots of recent vintage. I always thought that Newspeak should be tinged with “language of the news” meaning (in English, not in Russian). Is it?

  2. If it were ёдодой (yododoy) it would be a phonetic palindrome (and, of course, йододой is a bit foreign looking, but acceptable).

  3. I always thought that Newspeak should be tinged with “language of the news” meaning (in English, not in Russian). Is it?

    Nope, it’s used purely for Orwellian purposes.

    If it were ёдодой (yododoy) it would be a phonetic palindrome

    I love it!

  4. John Cowan says:

    The English word quiz, originally meaning ‘mock(er)(y)’ and only later extended to ‘test, examination’ is vaguely similar: its etymology is unknown (the OED says the noun is from the verb and that the verb is from the noun, a causal loop), and there is a story about it that Richard Daly, a Dublin theater owner, to win a bet paid a group of street urchins to chalk the word on walls around the city, and it caught on. Alas, there is no evidence for this story.

  5. Boris Vakhtin (1930-81), not Bakhtin. The son of Vera Panova (the Soviet author) and Boris Vakhtin (a journalist, executed in 1938). Boris Jr., an academic Sinologist, wrote some first-rate fiction, most of which was only published posthumously. One Absolutely Happy Village is probably the best known of his novellas thanks to Petr Fomenko’s dramatization.

  6. Woops, how did that happen? I’ll fix it, thanks!

  7. Rodger C says:

    I’ve seen at least one article that gave Orwell’s word as “news-speak,” but I think that qualifies as a simple blunder.

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