Slyug, Khvikh.

A while back, Anatoly Vorbei linked to V. N. Makeeva’s Материалы для толкования устаревших слов, which lists words that occur in Lomonosov’s Russian grammar and related materials that are difficult for modern readers to understand, with explanations taken from early dictionaries and from literature of the period. There follows this hopeful sentence:

Будущие исследователи раскроют, надо надеяться, значение тех, очень немногих слов, для толкования которых не удалось подыскать пока ни словарных, ни литературных материалов; таковы, например, слова артовль, ахидъ, березгъ, горлъ, слюгъ, хвихъ, хогъ, устрецъ, которые встречаются в черновых списках имен существительных мужского рода, кончающихся на ъ и ь.

Future researchers will hopefully discover the meaning of those very few words for whose interpretation we have not yet been able to find either dictionary or literary materials, such as the words artovl′, akhid, berezg, gorl, slyug, khvikh, khog, and ustrets, which are found in the draft lists of masculine nouns ending in ъ [hard sign] and ь [soft sign].

Anatoly is particularly taken with two of them:

Слюгъ и Хвихъ хорошо подходят как имена двоих слуг злой ведьмы в театральной сказке, мне кажется. Или абстрактных персонажей в пьесе Беккета.

Slyug and Khvikh work well as names of two of the servants of the wicked witch in a theatrical fairy tale, I think. Or abstract characters in a Beckett play.

Those are indeed excellent, but I am fond of artovl′ and khog as well; the first is impressively high-flown, the second sounds down-and-dirty.


  1. Stu Clayton says

    They may be gone for good. That’s verkraftbar, since I agree with what you quoted from Simone White:

    # “fuck that mumbling shit” : “you are an ignorant fucker”
    what has to be said beyond off/on : good/bad; what happens when a linguistic field is generated by high-energy-signs across a flat plane of signification—there’s no need for logical progression or … “narrative.” Each word or phrase can function as foregone, forethought, already known; that’s a black ontological truism that trap music knows deeply. That’s its language game. #

    No use trying to find closure when it’s already hit the road for parts unknown.

    I wanted to read the article just now, and got only a 503, but with a nice consolation poem:

    # Error is boundless.
    Nor hope nor doubt,
    Though both be groundless,
    Will average out. #

    Addendum: I didn’t mnemotechnically know that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” is by Hartley, the first line of The Go-between !! I loved the Eustace and Hilda novels as well. I thought the line came from some sci-fi novel that I haven’t read. My second guess would have been Trollope.

  2. David Eddyshaw says

    My favourite 404 message read

    “That page is not found. However, you are as good as you are beautiful, and everybody loves you.”

    Sadly, I cannot now remember where I encountered it. I think it was an American university …

  3. Stu Clayton says

    They must have been spying on your browser activity. How else could they have known that ? This kind of exposure shows how important it is to keep a tight lid on the cookie jar.

  4. Owlmirror says

    For those of an economic bent, the Financial Times has an entire page of economic excuses as their 404 page:

    Why wasn’t this page found?

    We asked some leading economists.

       The cost of pages rose drastically, while the page production rate slowed down.

    Liquidity traps
       We injected some extra money into the technology team but there was little or no interest so they simply kept it, thus failing to stimulate the page economy.


       The failure of this page to load is a consequence of the inherent contradictions in the capitalist mode of production.

    Laissez Faire Capitalism
       We know this page is needed, but we can’t force anyone to make it.

    [. . .]

    Theory of the second best
       The best outcome was unachievable, so you have arrived here instead.

    And so on and so forth.

  5. There is a world, real or imaginary, where Berezg, Gorl, Slyug, Khvikh, and Khog are names of popular soft drinks/breakfast cereals. In Chile, I was taken by ads for the soft drinks Yuz, Sprim, Bilz, and Pap.

    Seriously though, what do some of these Russian words mean? Do they have interesting etymologies?

  6. We don’t know what they mean! For all we know, Lomonosov made them up!

  7. arte povera; unity; birch beer; destiny; the era of the terrestrial molluscs; speedy; (any) christian holiday; [redacted].

    [i’ll see myself out]

  8. PlasticPaddy says

    related to words for potato in other European languages? I think you would have to posit modification of original, i.e., borrowed taratufli (pl.) but the initial consonant is actually not preserved in French cartoufle, Ger. Kartoffel (also I suppose you might be able to argue Dutch Aardappel or Ger. Erdapfel is folk-etymology and original form was *artoffel; the Dutch word has second syllable stress).

  9. Unrelated, but does anyone have an idea what лум might be?

    мы — не “РФ”, возникшая в 91-м на пьянке в Беловежской Пуще и выполняющая роль кладбищенского лума на могилах собственных предков, мы — та самая историческая Россия, которую, оказывается, ещё всё-таки не добили.

  10. PlasticPaddy says

    Google suggests that source of the phrase kladbishchenskii lum might be a book called ved’mi vek, trilogija by Marina and Sergei Djachenko. Since this is a fantasy novel, maybe it is a phrase original to this book.

  11. One of the Loomian Legacy characters perhaps? Similar to a Pokémon?

    On the other hand, what makes you read this fat-faced Putinist? He’s prima facie disgusting.

  12. what makes you read this fat-faced Putinist?

    Just followed a link.

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    @rozele: I am tickled to learn from wikipedia that apparently the only non-English wikipediae that have an article analogous to the English one on “Birch Beer” are Dutch, Javanese, and Mandarin (simplified characters). So the field is wide open for popularization in the Russophone world?

  14. Owlmirror says

    source of the phrase kladbishchenskii lum might be a book called ved’mi vek, trilogija by Marina and Sergei Djachenko.

    Their name is transliterated “Dyachenko” on their translated works.


    Age of the Witch (1997) (Russian: Ведьмин век) involves characters from a number of mythologies, most prominently Slavonic. It received a literature award from the magazine Rainbow (Russian: Радуга) in 1997 and the “Zilantkon” – “Great Zilant” prize (Russian: Зиланткон — Большой Зилант) in Kazan in 1998.

  15. PlasticPaddy says

    Cool. I did not look for translation (and thanks for including correct title in Russian 😊).

  16. Reminded me how we giggled about the fact that our friend (a student fo an Orthodox university) is a параекклисиа́рх, παραεκκλησιάρχης.
    “We” – our company, including him first of all.

  17. “Reminded”, I mean:Дьяк

    “Не следует путать с диаконами. Дьяк (от греч. διάκονος, diakonos — служитель) может означать:
    – начальник органа управления (приказа) или младший чин в боярской думе Русского царства XVI — начала XVIII столетий;
    – церковнослужитель низшего разряда в православной церкви[1], не имеющий степени священства (чаще называемый дьячком).”

    “дьячок” is a link toПономарь:

    “Понома́рь (официально Парамона́рь; от др.-греч. παραμονάριος — «приставник», «привратник», «придверник») — служитель православной Церкви, обязанный прислуживать при богослужении, а также звонить в колокола. В Типиконе «пономарь» часто обозначается терминами кандиловжига́тель (греч. κανδηλάπτης) и параекклисиа́рх (греч. παραεκκλησιάρχης) (см. главы 1-ю и 2-ю). В России пономарь уважительно именуется — алтарник, а в разговорной речи — дьячок.”

    Here “дьячок” is also a link, but it leads toПсаломщик

  18. Owlmirror says

    I happened to be aware of the Dyachenkos because I read a review of a reissue of their book Vita Nostra (with a rather striking new cover) recently.

    Also, as their WikiP page notes, Sergey/Serhiy died just a few days ago.

  19. Some of the above in English. Russian and Ukrianian have two words from διάκονος “deacon”:
    (1) a low rank priest : диакон (modern R.), диякон (modern U.).
    (2) a lay clerk. Also the priest’s assistants (sacristan etc.), often in diminutive in R (дьячок).
    дьяк (R.) дяк (U).

    I do not know where was the isogloss , but there are Ukrainian surnames Дяченко and Дьяченко.

    dʲj, dj (as opposed to dʲ) developed in Russian from dVj, they also happen in in foreign words (both R. and U.). Normal etymological /dj/ gave /dʲ/ but English extracts ʲ from dʲ… If it were D’yachenko/D’jachenko, it would be certainly a transliteration of Дьяченко… Or a Vulkan name.

  20. I still associate the name with Yeltsin’s daughter.

  21. Gorl and Slyug — great names for a heavy metal band!

  22. David Marjanović says

    also I suppose you might be able to argue Dutch Aardappel or Ger. Erdapfel is folk-etymology

    That has indeed been argued, and Swiss Herdapfel, with “stove” instead of “earth”, is interesting in this respect, too – after all there’s no h-dropping anywhere in sight.

  23. January First-of-May says


    I’m not sure if this is the actual meaning, but I immediately thought of a he-oyster (vs. the usual she-oyster устрица).


    This has to be somehow related to the verb брезжить “to be faintly visible”; as a noun I would guess something like “faint shine”.

    EDIT: in retrospect it could just as easily be related to брезговать “to disdain”, and without context we can’t tell which of those, if either, was intended by Lomonosov. Wiktionary has an entry for the corresponding Proto-Slavic root, with both meanings.
    OTOH IIRC Proto-Slavic -rě- (with a yat) would not have given East Slavic -ere- anyway. Intriguing…

  24. I immediately thought of a he-oyster

    Me too!

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