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While contemplating my ever-growing LibraryThing catalog (now at 1,000 books), I was suddenly struck by the odd name Gorgoniev belonging to the author of my Cambodian-Russian dictionary. I did some googling and discovered that this guy, whose name and patronymic turn out to be Yurii Aleksandrovich, is the only Gorgoniev known to the internet (furthermore, the name is not in any of my reference books). I found some discussion of him here; he sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant fellow:

Юрий Горгониев, высокий, худой, скучный и безжизненный, говорил о том, что я не захотел год назад поехать в колхоз, что, хотя с производственной стороны отдел и не имеет ко мне претензий, мой поступок вызвал осуждение парторганизации отдела…
Всё тот же Горгониев, из тверских крестьян. Мне всегда казалось, что он относится к науке, как селянин к сиоей парцелле: старается никого на неё не пускать. Раз он занимается кхмерским языком — конкурентов ему не надо.

‘Yuri Gorgoniev, tall, thin, boring, and lifeless, said that I had refused a year before to go to the kolkhoz and that even though from the point of view of production the department had no claim on me, my behavior called for condemnation from the Party organization of the department…
‘There was Gorgoniev again, of Tver peasant stock. It always seemed to me that he had the same attitude to science that a peasant does to his plot of land: he tries not to let anybody on to it. If he’s working on Cambodian, he doesn’t need any competitors.’


  1. Gorgoniev sounds weird at first, as if he were a descendant of the Gorgon, but it turns out Gorgonius is the name of at least three Christian martyrs venerated in Russia. Note the author’s language: he uses old-fashioned селянин instead of neutral крестьянин, and Latin парцелла instead of Russian надел — for the sake of irony perhaps.
    The author, BTW, is the fiery Yuri Glazov, which is why I would heavily discount his denunciations. (One of his sons, Jamie, writes for The Front Page Magazine and other such publications.) On the other hand, Gorgoniev was a парторг отдела, which speaks against him. Besides his work on Khmer, he also published an article on Sino-Tibetan languages.

  2. Ah, thanks — for both the Gorgonius info and the background on Glazov! (I did find парцелла an odd word.)

  3. When I saw the title of this post I was sure it would be about the Roma, who often resent the attempts of foreigners to learn Romani, preferring to reserve it as a secret language.

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