One Born Every Minute
Published: July 16, 2014 (Issue # 1820)
Photo: A. Makhonin / Vedomosti
╦ţ§ÓÝˇ˛Ř˝ : toámake aástupid mistake, slang
I havenĺt checked TheáWordĺs Worth mailbox ináa few weeks ů letĺs see ů lots ofáquestions about language andácurrent events. Foráexample, ôIf France can outlaw English words, why canĺt Russia?ö signed byáIvan Francophile.
So, howĺs that working out foráFrance, Ivan? Why donĺt you get back toáme after le weekend. Andáhereĺs aágood question: ôCan you say Ĺhashtagĺ ináRussian?ö Answer: Yes. Oh, andáanother topical question: ôWhy should we say Ô ËŕÓŔÝň (in Ukraine)?ö Answer: Why not? What have you got against Ukrainians?
Now hereĺs anáinteresting question: What does Űţ§ÓÝˇ˛Ř˝ mean? This is aáword I have some acquaintance with, mostly because it has been used ináreference toámy behavior.
Iĺm kind ofáa naive jerk, which is theámeaning ofáthe root ofáthis word: Űţ§. ╦ţ§ is aádupe, mark, sucker, patsyáŚ often aátrusting soul fromáthe provinces who is tricked out ofáhis or her money or belongings ináthe big city. ╦ţ§ first produced theáword Űţ§ţ˛ţÝáŚ aákind ofágame, lottery, or contest ináwhich theáŰţ§ can never win.
╦ţ§ÓÝˇ˛Ř˝ has theámeaning ofágetting caught ináone ofáthose games, or being hoodwinked inásome way. Foráexample, if you are thinking ofábuying aácar, as soon as you check out offerings onáInternet, you will see helpful articles like: ╩Óŕ ŕˇ´Ŕ˛Ř ýÓ°ŔÝˇ Ŕ Ýň Űţ§ÓÝˇ˛Ř˝ (How toábuy aácar without getting scammed.)
╦ţ§ÓÝˇ˛Ř˝ can also mean toágoof up, toámake aástupid mistake: ĐÓý Űţ§ÓÝˇŰ˝ . đÓ˝˝ŰÓßŔŰ˝ , Ó ˝ ÔÓýŔ Ó˝˝ŰÓßŰ ˛Ř˝ ÝňŰŘš (I slipped up. I let my guard down, andáno one should do that with you.)
Another question inámy mailbag is about theáslang meaning ofá˝ŰŔÔÓ˛Ř, which ináliterary Russian means toápour out, dump, or empty. Inánonliterary Russian, i.e., slang, it has more or less theásame meaning, only it is applied toápeople instead ofáliquid: toádump someone. Usually it has theásense ofábetrayal: ─ÓÔÝţ ßűŰţ ´ţÝ ˛Ýţ, ¸˛ţ ■Ńţ-Ôţ˝˛ţ¸Ýű§ ˝ň´ÓÓ˛Ŕ˝˛ţÔ ¤ˇ˛ŔÝ ˝ŰŔÔÓň˛ (Itĺs been obvious foráa while that Putin is selling out theáseparatists ináthe southeast).
Another slang meaning ofá˝ŰŔÔÓ˛Ř is toáleak information, what politicians andádisloyal employees do: ĐŰŔÔÓ˛Ř ŔÝ˘ţýÓ÷Ŕ■ Ô ŕţÝŕˇŔˇ■¨ˇ■ ŕţý´ÓÝŔ■ šÓ ńňÝŘŃŔ ˝ţŃŰÓ˝ŔŰţ˝Ř 20 ´ţ÷ňÝ˛ţÔ ţ´ţ°ňÝÝű§ (Twenty percent ofárespondents said they would agree toáleak information toáa company that is aácompetitor).
Theátoughest question inámy mailbox concerned theáphrase ´ţńÔň˝˛Ŕ ´ţń ˝˛Ó˛Ř■, which means toámaliciously interpret someoneĺs actions so it seems that they are illegal andáfall under anáarticle (˝˛Ó˛Ř ) ofáthe criminal code. Itĺs like aátrumped up charge, but based onásomething that might be interpreted as illegal. Theátricky part is figuring out aáconcise way ofátranslating theáphrase ináa headline: ═ňý÷ţÔÓ ´ű˛Ó■˛˝ ´ţńÔň˝˛Ŕ ´ţń ˝˛Ó˛Ř■ ţß řŕ˝˛ňýŔšýň. Theábest I can come up with is ôAttempts are being made toábuild aácase ofáextremism against Nemtsov.ö
Thatĺs pretty lame andáin any case would not pass muster atáthis newspaper, where we like toácite theáagent ofáaction, i.e., who exactly is building theácase. But that would require ˝ŰŔÔ ŔÝ˘ţýÓ÷ŔŔ ţ˛ ´ţŕˇţÓ (a leak fromáthe prosecutorĺs office,) which would mean that ˝ţ˛ˇńÝŔŕ ň°ŔŰ ˝ŰŔÔÓ˛Ř ŕţŰŰňŃ (a staffer decided toásell out his colleagues.)á Andáthe colleagues would moan: ╠ű ňýˇ ńţÔň ŰŔ! ╠ű Űţ§ÓÝˇŰŔ˝Ř! (We trusted him. We blew it).
Michele A. Berdy, a translator andáinterpreter, is the author ofáôThe Russian Wordĺs Worthö (Glas), aácollection ofáher columns.