Thursday, August 25, 2016


It's 'Upravlyaushchy,' Not 'Menedzher' -- You're Fired!

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
By Daisy Sindelar
Vladimir Zhirinovsky has posed in his underwear, thrown punches in the Duma, and called on Russians to shoot birds to prevent the spread of avian flu. 
But inside the body of a clown lies the heart of a linguist. 
Zhirinovsky, the head of the nationalist LDPR party, is calling for new legislation that would punish writers, reporters, and scholars for using foreign words in instances where suitable Russian alternatives exist. 
Speaking on January 22 to journalists, the flamboyant lawmaker said it was time to free the Russian language from "garbage and foreign words" -- particularly Americanisms, which he described as "torturing us." 
The fight to restore Russian to a state of linguistic purity has occupied lawmakers ever since foreigners first arrived on their shores wearing "dzhinsy" and raring to talk "biznes."
In fact, many of the words on Zhirinovsky's blacklist are distinctly commercial in nature. 
Speaking to Kommersant FM radio -- which, Zhirinovsky noted, would do well to change their Gallic moniker to Torgovets FM posthaste -- the lawmaker signaled his desire to condemn terms like "diler," "treider," "menedzher," and "seil" to the guillotine. (Which, incidentally, is "gilyotina.")
He also took aim at words that have long been a mainstay of the Russian language, like the German-based "parikmakher," or hairdresser. 
Zhirinovsky offered "strizhach," based on the Russian word for haircut, as a preferable alternative, despite the fact that it currently does not exist in Russian dictionaries. Otherwise, he lamented, "the Germans will say we don't have our own words." 
Damn The French

He next turned his wrath against the French, who have long peppered the language of eating with their own damnable phrases. "'Restoran,' 'kafe,' bar," he said, had no place in the local vocabulary when there are perfectly good Russian alternatives like "zakusochnaya" -- a term based on the Russian word for snack. "That's a good Russian word. 'Zakusochnaya' -- you run in, you have a snack." 
Zhirinovsky then set his sights on condoms, already a touchy subject in an era of shrinking Russian birthrates. The longstanding term, prezervativ, must not be preserved. Instead, he proposed the archaic "predokhranitel" -- literally, a fuse or protective device. "All the packages have the word 'prezervativ' on them," he said disparagingly. "The kids don't even understand what that is." 
(A prerevolutionary advertisement for condoms refers to them as "rezinoviye predokhraniteli," or rubber protective devices. The devices themselves, it should be noted, are from the United States and France.)
Russia is not the first country to seek to purge its language of foreign intruders. Zhirinovsky himself noted admiringly that Turkey 60 years ago launched a drive to sweep its tongue free of Persian, Arabic, and French influences. 
Zhirinovsky claims to have deployed a team of Russian linguists in fleshing out the legislation he hopes to eventually submit to the Duma. In the meantime, he wagged a menacing finger at the gathered journalists, who he said represented the worst offenders. 
He pointed with particular disdain at the youth-focused Dozhd TV, which bills itself as an "optimistic channel" and includes English-language program names like "Hard Day's Night." "Soon that channel is going to switch over to English entirely," Zhirinovsky complained.
Any legislation to be introduced, the lawmaker added, will come complete with a stiff set of penalties ranging from fines and censorship to outright dismissals.
Still, Zhirinovsky claimed, he was prepared to make exceptions in instances where the rich Russian tongue has inexplicably offered no better alternative for how to describe, for example, rubber boots. "We're not saying that we have to change the word 'galoshi,'" he said.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous from: USA
January 22, 2013 18:38
Zhirinovsky is crackpot. He's anti-Jewish yet he is one himself. He also speaks fluent English BTW.

by: Solidus86 from: Kabul
January 22, 2013 18:40
Cognates (adopted words of foreign origin) exist in virtually every language. English uses many cognates. I.e. Fiance, liason, and even the 'Bistro' popular with sandwich shops is historically derived from the Russian word "быстро". Many Russia words that have no other more "Russified" form are cognates: этаж (Француский) meaning 'floor of a building' and I don't think there are many words in Russian more popular than чай (Китайский) meaning tea. Cognates inevitably build on language. If every culture tried to form a new word that better reflected their etymology, then trends, concepts, information and technology would whiz by them, refusing to understand them for what they are.

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 22, 2013 19:19
And we should substitute svoloch for Zhirinovsky!!!
In Response

by: Jack from: US
January 22, 2013 21:20
and "Put-in" for Polish sex manual
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 23, 2013 11:50
Jack has also its good subs like Joke,or rather Jerk,just as he substituted SU-soviet union for US,but we must forgive the politcommissair as he hasnt got the jack!!!

by: Ben
January 23, 2013 16:57
For the leftists(usually without sense of humour ) he is "ultra-nationalist" like B.Netanyahu.Jews are often extreme-nationalists (by non-Jewish opinion). But in reality he is the best caricature on the Russian nationalist,though with the great sense of humor.He is hated by real fascists and his political longevity means the tolerance and the good sense of humor of the Russian people and Putin himself.This lightning-rod defends the national harmony.

by: John Harduny from: Reston, VA, USA
January 25, 2013 02:22
I reluctantly agree with Zhirinovsky. The Russian language is one of the richest linguistic systems on the planet Earth. Russians would do themselves a big favor indeed if they start controlling their lust for foreign words. Punitive administrative methods, however, are not as helpful as they often seem.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
January 26, 2013 20:53
All languages are the richest linguistic system on the planet Earth, because they're basically the same as systems -- you're probably talking about the size of the vocabulary, which is only part of it. But even in this case... the amount of foreign influence on English, which is staggering -- about 40% of the words in your average English dictionary is of foreign, especially French, origin -- has done nothing to destroy English. In fact, English has thrived -- you just ask Shakespeare if he thought all those French words made him less capable of writing well...

English survived. So will Russian. Foreign influence makes a language richer, not poorer, since it brings new words in, without taking any of the old ones out.
In Response

by: John Harduny from: Reston, VA, USA
January 28, 2013 04:05
I agree - in a sense, foreign influence makes a language richer, but in many instances in a rather wrong way. Some borrowing from foreign languages is unavoidable and even encourageable , but incongruities arising between the inherent and unique logic of a language and foreign words make can make it awkward. And in addition I am against the uncontrollable mutation of languages I speak for one particular reason - I am against the change of things I identify myself with. This is not about good or bad - it is about identity. As for the thesis that "All languages are the richest linguistic system on the planet Earth," I disagree completely as a person who speaks fluently four languages. In Russian, almost every part of speech (e.g. noun, verb) can change by cases, tenses, and genders. One of the languages I speak does not have the concept of gender.

Most Popular

Editor's Picks