GENERATIONAL SHIBBOLETH.

From ru_slang I got to this article (in Russian), which alleges (Russian readers can tell me how accurately) that the phrase na samom dele ‘in reality, in (actual) fact’ characterizes the positive, confident generation of intellectuals who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, whereas kak by ‘as if, as it were’ characterizes the uncertain, postmodernist generation that grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. Example: On prishel ‘He came’; Na samom dele on prishel ‘[There is an objective reality, and] he really came [—I know what I'm talking about]‘; On kak by prishel ‘It seems that he came [but reality is so fluid and indeterminate that there's no guarantee of anything].’ Interesting.

Comments

  1. I didn’t see this at all. The major generational distinction that I saw was that my generation says koroche all the time, and we’d always laugh whenever my host mom appropriated the term klassno.

    Then again, maybe Krasnodar isn’t cosmopolitan enough for the youths to be as postmodern as moskvichi. :-)

  2. Both na samom dele and kak by have been very much diluted in their meaning, when used in this way as sentence appetizers. I’d say that kak by roughly corresponds to American kinda, while na samom dele is more like actually.

    Just as “kinda” doesn’t really denote uncertainty in many contexts, neither does kak by.

    I strongly disagree with the heavy significance Rudnev ascribes to usage of these phrases; in my opinion it’s a typically naive application of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that’s generally characteristic of Rudnev’s work, BTW). It is true that kak by entered widespread use as a “slovo-parazit” later than na samom dele, but it’s not even true, for example, that na samom dele was replaced by kak by; some people who grew up during the ’80s and the ’90s are likely to overuse one phrase, others are likely to overuse the other.

  3. Aha! Thanks, Avva; I figured it was probably overstated, if not actual bullshit, so I’m glad to get the lowdown. (How would you say “the lowdown” in current Russian?)

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