Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ват из ит?

I'm supposed to be studying right now, but it's way more fun to make a list of these novelty words.

грин кард
лифтинг (on a skin care product)
експрес сервис


It seems that everywhere you look these days in Ukraine you see English words spelled out in Cyrillic letters-

Сомтаймс ивен а хол сентанс!

Then there are the verbs- телефонуй! чек-інься! скануй! There is even, heaven help us, this-

And speaking of food...

Okay, you're thinking, those are easy. They're practically Russian 101 words.

But what about these?...

Er, well, these aren't really English words, but you get the point
And if you're looking for something to do this викенд, may I suggest a new хобби?

Or maybe you want to get out of the house and go somewhere?

Just be sure not to buy your
at the

and remember to get a
while you're at the

Oh, and don't worry about your car. There's plenty of this downtown-


  1. *Downer mode ON*. While some of these words (especially the sentences) are ridiculous, about 30% of them have been borrowed many many years ago. Like yoga, box(ing) and some others. I learned them as I learned how to talk. Any language is a living thing, so generally speaking adding new words is a normal process.
    Another 20% of this collection came into the language with the first exposure to the western culture, about 20-25 years ago. Partly there was no adequate equivalent in Russian (sandwich is not the same as бутерброд), but partly it just sounded cool. You have to understand that for many people that transition period was the first fresh breeze in years, so anything that sounded differently from the grey soviet realities was taken for awesome no matter what it was. *downer mode OFF*

    Some of the newer words (mostly related to technical innovations) are very hard to translate. For example, Internet. How do you translate that? If you just mean a computer network, that would be копмьютерная сеть. Internet - глобальная компьютерная сеть (global computer network)? Gimme a break, no one is going to pronounce that. Oh yeah, the word "computer" is another good example. In the 70's those ginormous fossil boxes were called "вычислительная машина" (calculating machine). But even the commies got tired of it and simply transliterated the word.

    But yet some of your findings are truly hilarious. OK, downer mode off for realz.

    1. Hi Sergiy, thanks for posting : )

      I think it's fascinating how words travel from one language to another and you're right, there are many factors involved. I'd never heard of вычислительная машина but that's certainly a mouthful! The words that are inconvenient or don't quite translate (бутерброд) I can understand, but the words adopted for "coolness factor" are what is really intriguing. Do you think that's still going on? For example, there's a discount store here you probably know- смайлмаркет. And in Crimea last winter I saw an ad for топлес бар. I guess everyone has heard the word "smile", but how many people know "topless"? Wait, never mind, Google just brought up 1.8 million search results for that. Weird.

      You know how the French academicians are very hardcore on trying to keep the French language pure and free of "imported" words? Do you think that will eventually happen with Russian and Ukrainian- there will be some kind of backlash?- or will they always be more open to incorporating English words? I guess English itself is a very open language, always shamelessly stealing words and adding them to its own lexicon.

      Btw, this post on Runglish abroad may interest you:

      and this (surely exaggerated) Comedy Club video:

      and this poem (I couldn't understand all of it, I hope there's nothing bad there):