шурин, деверь и свояк

When two people get married, they instantaneously acquire a whole new bunch of relatives, referred to in English as “in-laws”. Without going into details, I have to say that I really dislike this term and its derivatives. French belle-famille sounds so much better!

“In-laws” have no exact equivalent in Russian. Instead, there is a bewildering array of terms, seemingly for every possible relationship the spouses and their family members can have. Now imagine translating a family saga from one language to another.

For instance, деверь, свояк and шурин are all boringly translated to English as “brother-in-law”. But how one should translate ambiguous “brother-in-law” to Russian?

Послушай, Зин, не трогай шурина:
Какой ни есть, а он родня.

Владимир Высоцкий, Диалог у телевизора

 
I first heard this song by Vladimir Vysotsky when I was about ten. I thought “Шурин” was a possessive adjective derived from the name “Шура” used as a matronym, just like the name “Райкин” (Raikin) can be interpreted as “Райки” (“one of Raika”).

Another song has more relations in it than one could possibly digest:

Чтобы я привёз снохе
С ейным мужем по дохе,
Чтобы брату с бабой — кофе растворимый,
Двум невесткам — по ковру,
Зятю — чёрную икру,
Тестю — что-нибудь армянского разлива.

Владимир Высоцкий, Поездка в город

 
It is not that most Russians nowadays know exact meanings of all these words. (I never even heard — or read — the word ятровь until I came across this Russian post.) Gradually, they become obsolete, and I believe there’s a good reason for that.

As the families are getting smaller, there is simply no need to classify your relatives into groups some of which may be seriously underpopulated. Besides, the use of these terms can make a discourse rather awkward — or ridiculous. Take the couple from the Vysotsky’s song: Ivan can talk about his шурин but for Zina it is weird as шурин is simply her brother. Weirder still, it is she who brought him into the conversation. I can’t imagine anyone seriously addressing his or her relatives as “mum-in-law” or “bro-in-law”. I think it is better to stick to the names.

деверь husband’s brother
зять male relation to wife’s family: son-in-law; the husband of one’s sister or sister-in-law
золовка husband’s sister
невестка female relation to husband’s family: daughter-in-law; the wife of one’s brother or brother-in-law
сват father of one’s son-in-law or of one’s daughter-in-law
сватья mother of one’s son-in-law or of one’s daughter-in-law
свекровь husband’s mother
свёкор husband’s father
свояк husband of wife’s sister
свояченица wife’s sister
сноха daughter-in-law
тесть wife’s father
тёща wife’s mother
шурин wife’s brother
ятровь, ятровка wife of husband’s brother

business weasel words

First published 9 June 2009 @ low-throughput

An essential table from my desktop guide to the real world: Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel (pp. 129—132).

You can disguise almost any level of ignorance via the clever use of weasel vocabulary. Try memorizing the words on this list and using them in alphabetical order the way they are shown here.

Business Weasel Words
accountable
action item
alignment
applications
architecture
ballpark
bells and whistles
benchmark
best practice
bottom line
brand
brand equity
bread and butter
breakthrough products
B2B
business case
business units
capability
cash cow
caveat emptor
challenge
change agents
change management
channels
cherry-picking
client-centric
collaboration
compatible
compensation plan
competitive advantage
consumer-driven
contingencies
continuous improvement
contribution
core competencies
cost-effective
cost-reduction
cross-fertilization
cross-functional teamwork
customer-focused
day-to-day
deliverables
delta
deployments
desktop environment
develop
digital
discipline
disconnects
disengaged
distribution channels
documentation
dotcom
e-business
efficiencies
empower
enterprise
e-services
e-tailers
eyeballs
facilitates
faster
fast track
flow charts
focus
focus groups
framework
functional
game plan
gap analysis
goal-directed
goals
guesstimate
hardball
hardware
high level
human capital
identified
implementation
incentivize
incremental
information
initiatives
innovative
inside-out organization
integrated
interactive
interface
internal and external functions
intranet
key performance indicator
key strategic areas
leadership
lean manufacturing
lessons learned
leveraging
line operation
living document
long term
management consultant
maximizing
metrics
milestones
mission-critical
mission statement
mobile
movers and shakers
next steps
objectives
off-line
operationalize
opportunity
outsourcing
paradigms
paradigm shift
parallel
partner
performance
positioning
proactive
process
product
profitability
quality
quantifiable benefit
real-time basis
reciprocal
red tape
requirements
reseller
resource
responsive
results-driven
revisit
rightsizing
risk management
robust
service
shareholder value
showstoppers
software
solutions
specifications
standardization
step change
strategic fit
suboptimal
synergies
teamwork
technology platforms
thought leadership
tools
track record
traction
transaction flow
transforming
turnkey
unquantifieable benefit
utilizing
value-added
values
viral
vision
warm and fuzzy
war stories
whole nine yards
win-win
world-class

Ugly corporate speak? Well, show me a grant application or a report that does not have at least ten of these ‘keywords’ in it. Often a number of them are joined together in phrases like “develop an innovative knowledge resource” or “integrated platform”.