SPONTANEOUS METEORITE REACTIONS.

Like everyone else, I’ve been mesmerized by the video clips of the recent meteorite that streaked over Chelyabinsk and exploded, and as a student of Russian I’ve taken particular note of the expressions that burst from the mouths of the people recording the event. In English one would expect “holy shit!” or “(what the) fuck!”; the three most common Russian exclamations used, in my totally unscientific estimation, have been ебать! [ye-BAT], ни хуя себе! [ni-khu-YAH-si-be], and пиздец! [piz-DETS], all of which could be rendered “Oh, fuck!” (the first one, ебать, is the infinitive of the verb ‘to fuck’; the morphology and etymological semantics of the other two would lead us too far astray). I was a bit surprised not to hear what I think of as perhaps the most common spontaneous outcry of indignant surprise, блядь [blyat] (literally ‘whore’), but this elegant explanation by fad_gel in Anatoly’s thread on precisely this topic (meteorite swearing) cleared it up for me:

Забавно, что реакции “бляТь!..” и “ебать!..”, видимо, противопоставлены как ближний и дальний локусы ) То есть “бляТь!..” используется как спонтанная реакция в ситуациях, которые затрагивают (или могут затронуть) “произносящего”, тогда как “ебать!..” — скорее, наблюдение за событием с безопасной (по мнению “произносящего”) дистанции.
[It's amusing that the reactions "blyaT!" and "ebat!" are evidently opposed as proximal and distal locus; that is, "blyaT!" occurs as a spontaneous reaction in situations that affect (or could affect) the speaker, whereas "ebat!" is rather an observation on events from a safe distance (from the speaker's point of view).]

For more on the linguistic aspects of the meteor event, see Elif Batuman’s A Meteor in the Russian Sky (on the New Yorker blog—I thank Ben Zimmer for the link); at the first video clip embedded there (the 49-second one), you can hear the driver using some of the cited expressions with admirable clarity and imperturbability.

Comments

  1. So you’d say “Blyat’!” if the meteor appeared to be directly overhead, and “Ebat’!” if it was lower in the sky?

  2. In English one would expect “holy shit!” or “(what the) fuck!
    Oh no; hereabouts it would be “Christ Almighty!”, “Hell’s bells!”, or even “Goodness me!”

  3. the morphology and etymological semantics of the other two would lead us too far astray
    Who are you and what have you done with Language Hat?

  4. As far as I am concerned, I’m more mesmerized by the fact that the Urals are plural in English, something I never realised. In fact most chains of mountains have a plural name in English. All of them maybe? (Not always the case for the Himalaya(s) though.)

  5. The Sierra(s) are like the Himalaya(s) in that way.

  6. The Sierra(s) is like the Himalaya(s) in that way.

  7. As one who grew up in the shadow of the Sierras, I would say that they are always plural.
    And thank you, Hat, for this useful explication of expletives. I had seen some of the videos and, though the explosion is impressive, it was the choice of verbal commentary that kept me wondering….

  8. But “the Sierra Nevada is beautiful”, no? What about the Hoggar massif, or the Tibesti or the Pamir?

  9. > > the morphology and etymological semantics of the other two would lead us too far astray
    > Who are you and what have you done with Language Hat?
    Seconded.

  10. Thirded. You really can’t tease us like that.
    Sierra Nevadas, I think. The Front Range, the Massif Central, and the Black forest are all singular, if you’re looking for counterexamples.

  11. i thought russians would say usually something like boje or gospodi or chert or batyushki or even mama rodnaya, something like that when surprised or terrified, maybe those are more like women’s expressions though
    no, gospodi and chert maybe when more like irritated
    but i dont know any russian drivers, or younger people in the last decade, so maybe now mat is more popular to express surprise or it was always like that, just not among my acquaintances

  12. maybe those are more like women’s expressions though
    More like old women’s expressions. Russian males of all ages have always been quite wonderfully foul-mouthed when in their own company, but these days younger Russian women of my acquaintance are also beginning to hold their own, and it’s no longer the taboo it once was to curse in mixed company.
    The funniest videoed outpouring of Russian gutter slang after the meteorite has to have been the one mock-translated on this page.

  13. Not sure about my esteemed colleague’s interpretation (on Anatoly’s thread) that ebat’ and blyat’ are used depending on the speaker’s location. I mean, how can he tell their location? And how can he determine the speaker’s sense of danger?
    I was actually surprised by ebat’ — in most of the mesmerizing dashcam tapes (like the 14-minute tape of Russian Road Accidents: The Greatest Hits) you don’t hear that at all. I even asked my favorite sample of native speakers — dog walkers — and no one would shout ebat’. So I think it’s either newish or a regional take on all old fave.
    BTW I love the dash cams. After watching that 14-minute road accident tape (there are a bunch of them called Russian Car Crash Compilation), I considered getting one. Or never driving again.

  14. @read
    If an asteroid were to fly over Ulaanbaatar tomorrow, Mongolian drivers would very likely use the third word (without the nominal suffix)

  15. @Siganus Sutor
    I’ve seen Caucases spelling quite a lot.
    Maybe they are plural, after all

  16. @mab
    I think use of ebat’ as an exclamation is actually a recent loan translation from English.

  17. Surely Himalayas is always plural, Sig?
    If I saw a meteorite, I’d probably start with “Gosh”. But then I’m a dog walker.

  18. Ahoy, Hat. Seen this morning: “Guns For Bikes Exchange In Uruguay” – in Brenglish, that would mean that you hand in a bike and they give you a gun. In that Murkin example the meaning is arsey-versy. But is that standard Murkin?

  19. “Caucases”, SFReader? I doesn’t sound right somehow. But what do I know about this? There might be many of them after all.
    AJP, it does seem that the Himalaya can be singular in English. At least on the web, Wikipedia included.
    For my part on seeing a meteorite like that behind my windscreen I would probably have shouted “liki so omaaaa!” Or, maybe, due to a few years spent in France some 20 years ago, “putaaaiiin!” — Back to the whore mentioned by LH above.

  20. i would say something like pöööhhh! or paaakh! ( expressions of surprise without word meaning) or khuuyee, ter yu ve (wow, what’s this), etymologically speaking hopefully our khui, khui-khui and the russian word are unrelated, cz it doesnt have any expletive meaning, just calling for one’s attention
    men perhaps would indeed say the third word as SFR mentions, some people can’t say a word without saying it, i think it’s something like a brain damage that makes them to utter it as if like compulsively every other word, just purely physiologically speaking about the reason why one cant contain self from saying obscene words, like, what kind of reward it brings something, i am not prude, just curious
    but it’s good that they dont have any such native word, but use a loan word
    japanese would say perhaps just ara! or ara-ara, or are?!

  21. @SFReader
    Use of “ебать” as exclamation is not new, but older uses that I’m familiar with are always in pleonastic form (what’s the proper term for it?): “ебать-колотить“, “ебать-копать“, etc. Do image search for these two to find rather obvious “funny” pictures. The skill then is in coming up with a novel second component, e.g. “ебать-контузить“.
    This usage seems to be quite in line with the tradition of such pleonastic forms used in folklore: “жить-поживать“, “тоска-печаль“, “роду-племени“, etc, etc.
    We really should read more Russian fairy tales to our kids :)

  22. @read
    Etymologically speaking, Russian “khui” is perfectly native Slavic form and represents an imperative form of verb “khovat’” (hide) in 2nd person singular ;-)

  23. @read
    I do have a link to Mongolian-English swear words glossary.
    Mongolian doesn’t seem to be deficient in this area from English (but Russian mat is definitely more sophisticated than both)

  24. @Siganus Sutor
    —”Caucases”, SFReader? I doesn’t sound right somehow. But what do I know about this? There might be many of them after all.—
    Yes, technically there are two mountain ranges – Greater Caucasus (in Russia) and Lesser Caucasus (in Georgia and Armenia mostly).
    Thus, using a plural form to designate both Caucases is perfectly correct ;-)

  25. The funniest videoed outpouring of Russian gutter slang after the meteorite has to have been the one mock-translated on this page.
    That is truly a masterpiece of mat and should be made part of the curriculum of advanced Russian courses. “Нахуй эту стройку, нахуй” is a beautiful example of sentence construction (and proof that you don’t need a verb to have a complete sentence).
    Thirded. You really can’t tease us like that.
    Heh. Well, пиздец [piz-DETS] is simple enough: it’s just пизда [piz-DA] ‘cunt’ with the ending -ец [-ets], which is usually affectionate/diminutive, though I wouldn’t venture an explanation of how it works here. Besides the basic (Ой/полный/просто) пиздец! “Oh fuck!” it can mean ‘enough’ (Ну, пиздец, пора кончать “OK, that’s enough, time to stop”) or express an urgent threat (Мне пиздец “It’s all over with me, I’m fucked”).
    But ни хуя себе (such a fixed expression that it is sometimes written as one word: нихуясебе), which can also mean “Great!” or “Incredible!” or “What next!” depending on context (Ни хуя себе пиво! “I can’t believe how fucking good this beer is!”) is part of a whole constellation of expansions on the single most basic Russian swear word, хуй [khui] ‘cock, prick’; by itself it can mean ‘nothing’ (Без словаря хуй поймешь “Without a dictionary you won’t understand jack shit/a fucking thing”) or express general negativity (Хуй тебе/там “No, you’re wrong/I refuse”) or indifference (Один хуй “It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same”), and it can even serve as an obscene substitute for бог ‘god’: Хуй его знает “Who the fuck knows,” Хуй с тобой “God help you, you poor fucker,” Хуй с ним “The hell with him.” But it’s the idiomatic use with prepositions that truly exhibits the staggering breadth and flexibility of mat: на хуй “to hell with (it), (it’s) irrelevant/doesn’t matter” (В такое время твои книги и на хуй не надо “At a time like this your books are fucking useless”), common in послать на хуй “to tell someone to fuck off”, and по хуй “a matter of utter indifference” (Мне по хуй “I don’t give a fuck”)—in those expressions, the prepositions (на, по) are stressed; до хуя (do khu-YA) “lots” or “enough” (Там пиво до хуя “There’s plenty of beer there”); за каким хуем “why? what for?”; видеть на хую (VI-det na khu-YU, literally ‘to see on a cock’) ‘to despise/reject’ (Я видел твои обещания на хую “Fuck your promises/I spit on your promises”); Иди к хуям (i-DI k khu-YAM) “Go to hell!” And that’s not even to get into the many derived words like хуйнуть ‘to hit/beat,’ хуйня ‘nonsense/bullshit,’ хуёвый ‘shitty/crappy’… well, as you can see, it’s a virtually infinite field that deserves it’s own monograph, parallel to Jesse Sheidlower’s magisterial The F-Word (see this LH review).

  26. >But “the Sierra Nevada is beautiful”, no?

  27. paaah is more like the expression of disgust, peeekh is more like of surprise too, to pöööhhh!
    khovat’ sounds a perfectly normal ukranian word to me, i would think it should change like khovai as an imperative
    our word khuuee, khui, is the shorter form from khuush, khuushee, so it’s just calling for one’s attention, something like hey
    the Altai mountains, or Khangai or Khentii or Sayan or Khyangan are all singular, fyi

  28. it does seem that the Himalaya can be singular in English.
    You’re right, although I can’t see how I’d ever be able to use it. There’s a lovely (compared to today’s crap) old P&O ship from the 1940s called SS Himalaya and it apparently gave its name to some contract legalese called a Himalaya clause

  29. Oh good, Hat’s back. (I think so, anyway, although that possessive it’s does leave a nagging doubt.)
    The multifarious uses of хуй remind me of the broad semantic spectrum of Hebrew benzona, which expresses strong disapproval when stressed finally (“son of a whore” and strong approval when stressed initially (“awesome”).

  30. @SFReader: Caucasi? Actually I suspect that people who use “Caucases” are being affected by “caucus, caucuses.”

  31. cherie, I’m happy to hear it. “Himalayas” and “Sierras” are what come naturally to me, but I am aware of the other usages. And this question came up recently here: Fritinancy criticized the poet who read at Obama’s inauguration for saying “the Sierras”.

  32. about mountain range, in my language uul nuruu means the mountain spine meaning the mountain range, so to say the Altai mountains it would sound Altain nuruu, in russian also gornui khrebet is an accepted expression to say about the chain of mountains, i wonder whether it’s a translation from our language, maybe the russian word comes from our nuruu as if like translated, no? cz it seems in other languages there is no such wording, like english doesnt have that khrebet-spine meaning to the mountain range expression
    or in japanese mountains will be just yamayama, i would think regardless of languages the concepts of naming some basic things and phenomena would be almost the same across many at least similar or close geographically languages, no?

  33. Should etymology affect the singularity-plurality of mountain ranges? ‘Rocky Mountains’ is obviously plural, but ‘sierra’ is Spanish for ‘saw’ (from Latin serra as in ‘serrated’) and I’ve always taken it to refer to the entire range as a unit. The range is the saw, while the individual mountains are the sawteeth. Or is that too pedantic? (I am a Latinist.)

  34. Jeffry House says:

    I agreed with that, Michael. To me, sierra is a unit, as is “la cordillera”.

  35. LH: it’s a virtually infinite field that deserves it’s own monograph
    - and at least one such exists: Алексей Плуцер-Сарно, Большой словарь мата. Т. 1. Лексические и фразеологические значения слова “хуй”
    It can easily enough be found online and, while certainly not absolutely complete and not always irrefutable in its interpretations, it does make a fascinating reading.

  36. Many thanks!

  37. David Marjanović says:

    за каким хуем “why? what for?”

    Masterful.
    That’s хуём, right?

    Иди к хуям

    Compare Czech jdi do prdele, “go to the ass”. (Loan-translated into Viennese as “go into the ass”, perhaps under Hungarian influence.) I wonder how many other of these expressions work in Czech with this substitution of body parts.

  38. David Marjanović says:

    Ah, I forgot:

    Or, maybe, due to a few years spent in France some 20 years ago, “putaaaiiin!”

    The Swiss would still do that. But the Parisians would say ô putain about 10 times fast in the same amount of time, the [y] shrinking to [çʷ] or thereabouts.

  39. I suppose it should be “the Himalaya” in English, if you wanted to capture the sense of the word’s Sanskrit origins. “Him” = snow or ice, “aalaya” = place or home, so “the Himalaya” is the “place of snow,” singular. “Pustakalaya” = pustak (book) + aalaya (place of) = library, sing., works the same way.

  40. “Нахуй эту стройку, нахуй” is pretty much standard Russian – with нафиг instead of нахуй it’s acceptable colloquial speech. What’s interesting I think is that блядь and putain mean basically the same thing and are used in very similar ways as interjections. In pre-Petrine Russian “блядин сын” was a strong enough insult but it’s no longer in use while сукин сын can express appreciation (“ай да Пушкин, ай да сукин сын!”).
    I recall the pleasure of stumbling upon стоптанный хуй in Plucer’s tome, but Gogol’s заплатанной (хуй, most likely) is as good.

  41. read, in Moscow “language culture” has really changed. What was rarely heard on the street is now so common, no one blinks.
    A few years ago I walked out of my apartment house to find a van parked in front of the entrance. It was winter, so I was blocked on the sides by high snowdrifts. I stood there for a second, and then mildly asked the guys unloading the van: A kak mne vyiti? (How can I get out of here?) One of the guys said, a chto, blyad’, khodit’ ne umeesh’? (What’s wrong, cunt, can’t you walk?)
    And a fine good morning to you, too!

  42. @languagehat
    In written Russian (mostly on the web, naturally), when you use хуй in simple word combinations with prepositions, it’s mostly forming a solid word (нахуй, нехуй, дохуя, похуй), except some more complex expressions (ни хуя себе).
    BTW, you would rarely hear ‘I’ve seen it on my cock’, but ‘I twisted it on my cock’ (‘..на хую вертел’) is much more common -)
    Good luck with exploring the Plucer-Sarno’s enchanting tome -)

  43. mab, I doubt he was referring to you as a блядь (that would be over the top even for Russia); rather, the блядь was an interjection – “fuck! can’t you walk?” You must have visited a less gentrified part of Moscow.

  44. There’s a ‘bozhe moi. Chto eto takoi?’ here after the explosion, and a rather sweet ‘aah mama’.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36w4Lh44dZg

  45. “Нахуй эту стройку, нахуй” is pretty much standard Russian
    Oh, I know, I was just admiring the beautiful construction of it. It has the same irrefutable perfection as “Call me Ishmael.”
    One of the guys said, a chto, blyad’, khodit’ ne umeesh’? (What’s wrong, cunt, can’t you walk?)
    I agree with Alexei K.—based on my experience of hearing блядь used in every conceivable syntactic position (much as “fuck” is used in English), I’m pretty sure it was just an intensifier and not an insult, unless intonation/stress and body language made it unmistakable that it was used that way.
    BTW, you would rarely hear ‘I’ve seen it on my cock’, but ‘I twisted it on my cock’ (‘..на хую вертел’) is much more common -)
    Thanks, I’m always looking to improve my understanding of these matters!

  46. David Marjanović says:

    rather, the блядь was an interjection – “fuck! can’t you walk?”

    Or perhaps rather “can’t you fucking walk”.
    Compare Polish a co to kurwa jest, “now what the fuck is this”. Grammatically, I’d put kurwa between commas, but that’d give a completely wrong impression of the pronunciation; also note that it’s the nominative and not the vocative.

  47. Kate Morlie says:

    My aunt taught me to cuss loudly to stop horses from charging me when I had sugar cubes in my pockets for them. I found that actual profanity was not necessary. Just using the same tone and volume was equally effective. I used this to stop big charging dogs when I ran in the country.

  48. “an intensifier”
    maybe people really use profanities like that, innocently, to just emphasize what they express, their emotions, or some people perhaps use it as if like some kind of protest against the social norms which are felt by them like too strict and oppressing
    but mostly people seem to use such words to show their affiliation to their chosen or given peer group, young people, young women for example everywhere, one would think they wouldnt have any that much emotional need to express themselves that way, but they feel as if like some pressure from their peers to use profanities to just belong to their group or to look tougher or independent or funny or cool or whatever they think they are perceived to be
    just instead of looking tougher it seems to me they look suggestible and too susceptible to the peer pressure, definitely not independent minded or just not very choosy about their friends

  49. i meant to say hi to mab, which i read as monoclonal antibody every time

  50. even use of profanities becomes nowadays such a “language culture” thing, that it sounds kinda funny and as if like paradoxical

  51. i thought maybe it’s a bit rude to sound as if like judgmental in the thread where people clearly admire the richness of the language expressions which is justified in the meteorite case
    but not maybe in the mab’s interlocutors’ case where it’s used something like display of power or simply the street rudeness
    i think if old men use profanities it’s perhaps okay as long as they dont abuse verbally anyone, i think they don’t care to belong to anything or anywhere, so if you need to release your stress that way and it makes you feel better, then, as they say, more power to you? so it’s okay if one uses swearing for one’s individual amusement, young men also maybe need their aggression and sexuality to be released some or other way, the hormones drive them that way i guess, so the society of course would prefer them to be swearing, not going around fighting or raping people i guess, though if one can contain self from such verbal releases that’s more praiseworthy of course, then women would feel compelled to use it for the feminist reasons, i mean any individualized like usage is okay i guess even for profanities, just when it becomes something like a group belonging marker, or mass culture, or just simply abuse of someone, cz verbal abuse is maybe even more powerful and damaging than the physical one, then of course it’s better to be avoided and not be encouraged too, in the mass media including

  52. @read
    I was told that nobody in Mongolia (except those who studied Russian or been to Russia) knows what p*zda exactly means. It doesn’t stop them from using it, though…

  53. @mab
    It’s now a common experience for visitors to Moscow to mistake ordinary Muscovite speech for cursing.
    Even simple “I have no change” from saleswoman can be spoken in such a tone

  54. ii think you are misinformed, surely the swearers know the meaning of the word to use it, just the social norms are pretty strict to not allow them to use the native word as freely as the borrowed word
    it’s the same situation with the slaughterhouse/ abattoir, i guess
    the direct usage of the native word is avoided and the foreign word with a more seemingly obscure meaning is preferred instead
    anyway, i can trust LHers with their use of profanities of course
    ans just to make that, as if like amends, this is funny http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zr6mh3kgjc
    the jokes about adding syllables or placing thes anywhere in the sentence, adding ings etc, haha, praise the jesus!

  55. @read
    In Soviet times public (or even private) cursing could bring a criminal prosecution. It seems current proliferation of profanity is linked to this liberalization.
    @David Marjanović
    In a Shukshin’s story a poor guy got into trouble by using exactly this word in a family argument

    – Молчать! — строго осадила Лизавета Васильевна. — А то договоришься
    у меня!.. Молокосос. Сопляк.
    Веня взмыл над землей от ярости… И сверху, с высоты, окружил ястребом
    на тещу.
    – А ты чего это голос-то повышаешь?! Ты чего тут голос-то повышаешь?!
    Курва старая…
    Соня еще не поняла, что за это можно сажать. Она только очень обиделась
    за мать.
    – Ох, молодой… — воскликнула она. — Да тебе двадцать восемь, а от
    тебя уж козлиным потом пахнет.
    Теща, напротив, поняла, что за это уже можно сажать.
    – Так… Как ты сказал? Курва? Хорошо! Курва?.. Хорошо. При
    свидетелях. -Она побежала в горницу — писать заявление в милицию.

    (c) Василий Шукшин. Мой зять украл машину дров

  56. “It seems current proliferation of profanity is linked to this liberalization”
    oh, that is a very probable cause, so maybe in some time the culture will again become more like refined just like a counterreaction to that over-liberalization
    i wonder how in the muslim or some other more religious countries people curse, maybe their too strict morality wouldnt allow them to swear freely and then people would perhaps start over-using religious words and expressions instead, as if like substituting the swear words with those, no? human nature is human nature anywhere

  57. @read
    In a traditional Christian culture using word “God” (or Christ) in vain (as an exclamation, for example) is a great sin.
    There were strict penalties for that.
    Such attitudes still survive in more Christian parts of America, hence word “Gosh!” – in my experience used exclusively by girls from strict religious families.

  58. @read
    Regarding Muslims. I’ve watched quite a few of Youtube videos from Syrian war and noticed extensive overuse of phrase “Allah akbar”. (Like, literally dozens of times in a 3-4 minute clip)
    It was explained to me that the rebels who use it are not necessarily terrorists or even islamists.
    They just use “Allah akbar” when they are scared (and there are many occasions to be scared in a war)

  59. so it’s bc they knew that substitution is possible, right?
    or maybe using god’s name was prohibited just out of respect, that is also understandable, in my culture we don’t call out loud our elders’ names, so when russians or americans, westerners, call their parents by their names and na ty, that sounds strange and unusual to us, but, okay, understandable too, different cultures different norms

  60. nda, seems like a bit similar situation, with the meteorite or the war, and when one is scared perhaps whatever is the habit to say comes first i guess, not even meaning anything much

  61. @read
    –about mountain range, in my language uul nuruu means the mountain spine meaning the mountain range, so to say the Altai mountains it would sound Altain nuruu, in russian also gornui khrebet is an accepted expression to say about the chain of mountains, i wonder whether it’s a translation from our language, maybe the russian word comes from our nuruu as if like translated, no? cz it seems in other languages there is no such wording, like english doesnt have that khrebet-spine meaning to the mountain range expression
    Similar overlap of meanings “spine, hill, top of the ridge, mountain” are attested in almost all Slavic languages.
    See Fasmer’s explanation
    хребёт, род. п. хребта́, укр. хребе́т, хрибе́т, род. п. -бта́, блр. хрíбiт, др.-русск. хрьбьтъ, ст.-слав. хрьбьтъ νῶτος, αὑχήν (Супр.), болг. хръбе́т “позвоночник”, сербохорв. хр̀бат, род. п. хрпта “спина”, словен. hrbǝ̀t, род. п. hrbtà – то же, мн. ч. hrbtì “решетчатые борта телеги”, чеш. hřbet, род. п. hřebta “спина”, стар. chrb “гора”, слвц. chrbát, др.-польск. chrzbiet, род. п. chrzebta, польск. grzbiet, род. п. grzbietu, кашуб. kšерt, н.-луж. kšebjat. Др. ступень вокализма: цслав. хрибъ “холм”, хрибътъ “хребет”, сербохорв. стар. хриб “холм”, словен. hríb – то же, hríbǝr – то же, чеш. chřib “холм”, др.-польск. chrzybiet, в.-луж. khribjet.
    PS. Interestingly, Croat comes from
    Serbo-Croatian Hrvat “a Croat,” from Old Church Slavonic Churvatinu “Croat,” literally “mountaineer, highlander,” from churva “mountain” (cf. Russian khrebet “mountain chain”).

  62. thanks, SFR, good to know, never knew about croats, sounds very convincing, i guess then all the turkic languages too have perhaps a similar expression

  63. mab, which i read as monoclonal antibody every time
    LOL do you know what TLA stands for ;) ?

  64. Там пиво до хуя “There’s plenty of beer there”
    should be: Там пива…

  65. Being pedantic, I can’t help pointing out that блять with a t is really a non-standard phonetic transcription of блядь with a d. It’s shown in Mayakovsky’s line:
    Я лучше в баре блядям буду подавать ананасную воду! (I’d rather serve pineapple drinks to whores in a bar)
    A lesser known verbal derivative from блядь is блякать (blyakat’) which means to swear, to curse.

  66. No, as I recall the intonation was such — a pause after blyad’ — that made it clear he was calling me a cunt. But what’s the difference between calling me a cunt and growling “can’t you fucking walk?” Both are wildly inappropriate in the situation.

  67. While ebat is an interjection here, it’s one of those with a phraseological root. I’d link it to ‘ебать тебя конем’ – fuck you like/with a horse, or ‘ебать тебя в рот’.
    I remember a Czech or Polish version of the horse phrase was quoted in a LH discussion some time ago?

  68. Good tidings: the Plutser-Sarno dictionary of mat is planned in 12 volumes. Two are out and available. Check out plutser.ru.

  69. But what’s the difference between calling me a cunt and growling “can’t you fucking walk?” Both are wildly inappropriate in the situation.
    Oh, sure, they had no business talking to you like that and I hope karma kicks them in the ass. But linguistically there’s a difference, and the linguistic aspects are important in these parts.

  70. There are two vehemently opposing schools (camps?) of swearing aficionados in Russian. One supports ye/yo in ebat’, the other insists it should be pronounced as yabat’. While the yobari scoff at yabat as a paysan-speak not worthy of true Russian, the yabari insist that only the ya variation has the full force commensurate with the great language.

  71. SFReader: And so does cravat, hence the joke about the Croats having all Europe by the throat.

  72. I would add that even as a plug-in word, блядь can be sometimes emphasized so it stands out in a spoken phrase, but not as a term of address would.
    “There are two vehemently opposing schools” – that yabat’ form must be Ryazan’-speak. I mean, as Edvard Grieg described one of his Peer Gynt pieces, “it smells of cow dung and the national character.” It’s completely unacceptable if you ask me. Also in keeping with other Slavic languages, it’s got to be ye-.

  73. I would add that even as a plug-in word, блядь can be sometimes emphasized so it stands out in a spoken phrase, but not as a term of address would.
    Really? Fascinating.

  74. completely unacceptable if you ask me
    neither is acceptable in polite speech anyway.
    Ryazan-speak
    I’d go with Grieg and say that ya- form sounds more authentic.
    As I say, the ye/ya debate is for aficionados, but there’s a real competition in Muscovite-speak between ee-speak (иканье) and ye-speak (еканье). Muscovites here may try and check themselves, how do you say (if you do) ob-yee-bat’ or ob-yeh-bat’ (объебать – to cheat someone out of smth), nahyeebat’ or nahyehbat (to cheat someone)?
    By the way ya- dialects are strongest in North-West (Pskov). In Ryazan it’s mild and the town only pops up because of the ya in it’s name which Muscovites pronounce either Rehzan’ or Reezan’.

  75. Cherie, it appears that Mark Twain, another person who used to live in that area, also said the Sierras.

  76. marie-lucie says:

    mab: fascinating :
    I think Alexei is telling you that the foul-mouthed guy who told you to walk was not addressing you by the offensive word, just expressing displeasure. I bet that if you listened to him talk with his fellow workers he uses that word all the time, just as in North America some men will use the F word in just about every sentence, as the equivalent of a growl.

  77. A couple of popular euphemisms for modern russian net slang aficionados )
    Х.з. ['Хэ-'Зэ] – (хз, х/з, hz etc) an abbreviation for ‘хуй знает’, ‘cock knows’, ‘dunno’. Handy for messengers and mildly crowded conditions, keeping just the right part of expression.
    Бладжад [,bla-'djad] – comes from ‘bljad’, a transliteration of Б-word from early 90s networks. Keeps all the expression, mostly from islamic (linked with terror in the unconscious of Moscow, still) connotations of ‘djad’, while escaping rudeness.
    And some of the popular (acceptable in public) synonyms of ‘пиздец’ – пипец, трындец, кабздец, шандец..

  78. also капец – kapets. From the neutral konets – end, finish, which probably explains pizdets as something final.

  79. And don’t ever forget
    Pesets

  80. *Sings* The final cuntdown …

  81. mab, I didn’t mean to defend the wretch, who deserves a serious spanking, just not the sort of flogging he’d deserve for calling you names. On the language side, m-l out it better than I did.
    Sashura: I prefer “ye” to either “yi” or “ya” but I seldom use the еб- vocabulary – only when talking to myself or telling a joke.
    Russian euphemisms can wander far from the original – for example, I use икс-три (“ex-three”) pretty often. It comes from treating ХЗ as a piece of mathematical notation (X being the variable and 3 an index, ideally in subscript).

  82. - I would add that even as a plug-in word, блядь can be sometimes emphasized so it stands out in a spoken phrase, but not as a term of address would.
    - Really? Fascinating

    I would side with mab’s incredulity.
    Putting an emphasis on b-word while addressing a woman appears to be a direct insult rather than a plug-in particle. As if it wasn’t already insulting that this culture observes pointed use of whore-words to silence women / to remind them of “their proper place” with morbid fascination.
    Of course we are all mere observers and interpreters of languages and cultures here, but one can’t help making unfavorable conclusions about the culture by observing not just this language, but the manner in which it is observed.

  83. Actually, what I should have written in reply to Alexei was: Don’t try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.
    I’ve been listening to people swear in Russian, being sworn at in Russian, and swearing in Russian longer than some of you have been on earth. That doesn’t make me the Last Word on Russian swearing — for one thing, there are new variations all the time, regional and otherwise — but in most cases it does allow me to know how outraged I should be.
    The guy called me blyad’. But here the problem was probably in my translation. In most cases the Russian obscenity is stronger than the English equivalent, but in this case it’s the opposite. Blyad’ for him was “just an insulting word for a woman,” maybe the way some urban cultures use the word “bitch.”
    My overall point was: in the last 20-30 years, the norms for using obscenity in public and private have changed tremendously.

  84. Latest Bykov’s on pizdets:
    И я, смотря с родимого бугра
    На русский круг, что мы замкнули снова,
    Сказал бы: “Апокалипсис” вчера,
    А нынче я скажу другое слово.
    http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2133412

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Она побежала в горницу — писать заявление в милицию.

    *facepalm*

    hence word “Gosh!”

    Joke: “I don’t believe in God, I believe in Gosh. If you don’t believe in Gosh, you’ll be darned to heck!”
    Also “H-E-double hockey sticks”.

  86. mab – I have to apologize then. It’s hard for me to accept that people sometimes fall that low.

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