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September 12, 2007


I'm really not sure about this:

First came Franglais. Then there was Spanglish. Now start getting used to Runglish, the English-laced argot of "kool" young Russians that has traditionalists weeping into their borscht.

To the horror of their parents, Russia's 'Koka-Kola' generation has developed a vocabulary that has more to do with MTV than Pushkin.

By mobile phone text message or on the internet, young Russian men invite their "friendessi" (female friends) for a "drrink" at the "Pab". And if you don't understand what they are talking about, you are clearly a "loozer".

The small amount of Russian that I actually did end up speaking convinced me that they'd drag in a word from any and every language at the drop of a hat. Russian has an absolutely huge vocabulary (it's said that to read Pushkin you need a vocab three or four times larger than the one you need to read Shakepeare) and there are often several words meaning much the same thing but with fine gradations of meaning. There's a word for jam (which I can't remember) and then one for good jam: confitura I think (from the French confiture) and then there's one for mushrooms and another for fine ones (from champignons). I know, many languages do this, but Russian, at least to my untutored ear, seems to do it more than most.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Anglicism spread rapidly - in part because there was a dearth of vocabulary to describe the technicalities of market capitalism....

Now that does ring true. I was only able to mangle my way through business Russian because of it.

September 12, 2007 in Language | Permalink


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There's a word for jam (which I can't remember) and then one for good jam

Yet they only have one word for a leg and a foot.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Sep 13, 2007 2:32:07 AM

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks to do with the evening...

Posted by: Andrew | Sep 17, 2007 12:24:57 PM