I was reading a horrifying and depressing discussion (in Russian) of what a great many women have to put up with in the way of male attitudes and behavior when I hit a comment that started off: “Вышла у меня как-то стори. Подходит ко мне на Зиланте один смутно знакомый мэн…” ‘Once [this] story happened to me. A guy I vaguely knew came up to me in Zilant…’ (Note the borrowings from English: стори [stori—why feminine gender, I wonder?] and мэн [men].) I thought at first “Zilant” must be Zeeland, but as I read on I realized the setting had to be somewhere in Russia (and it turns out Zeeland is Зеландия [Zelandiya] in Russian anyway). So I went to Yandex and after a little searching discovered that Zilant is a dragon from Tatar legend (the Tatar word is yılan ‘snake’) and has been since 1730 the symbol of Kazan.
Clearly, it is in slang use as a way of referring to the city of Kazan, which made perfect sense in context since from a comment earlier in the thread I had learned that Kazan is a major center of male thuggishness. [Update: As commenter Dmitry points out, it actually refers to a role-playing convention in Kazan.]
What struck me forcibly was that if I had encountered this usage before the internet, I would have had no way of finding out what it meant. It’s not in any of my dictionaries; a form closer to the Tatar original, зиланъ [zilan], was in Dahl, but I would have had no reason to connect the two. (I wonder when zilan changed to zilant, and why?) Anyway, it gave me yet another occasion to be profoundly grateful to the sea of information made accessible to us by the internet.
Addendum. And after writing that I hit a phrase (in the same comment) that defeated me. Anybody know what is meant by неферский прикид? I know прикид [prikid] is slang for ‘clothes,’ but although the adjective is used a lot online (modifying ‘forum,’ ‘style,’ ‘exclamation,’ etc.) I can’t find a definition. Заранее спасибо!
By the way, from the Wikipedia article on Zilant I got to an interesting one on the İske imlâ alphabet used for the Tatar language before 1920, when it was replaced by the Yaña imlâ (which only lasted until 1927).