метко сказанное русское слово

First published 21 April 2019 @ Listen, Learn, Read

Сердцеведением и мудрым познаньем жизни отзовётся слово британца; лёгким щёголем блеснёт и разлетится недолговечное слово француза; затейливо придумает своё, не всякому доступное, умно-худощавое слово немец; но нет слова, которое было бы так замашисто, бойко, так вырвалось бы из-под самого сердца, так бы кипело и животрепетало, как метко сказанное русское слово.

With a profound knowledge of the heart and a wise grasp of life will the word of the Briton echo; like an airy dandy will the impermanent word of the Frenchman flash and then burst into smithereens; finickily, intricately will the German contrive his intellectually gaunt word, which is not within the easy reach of everybody. But there is never a word which can be so sweeping, so boisterous, which would burst out so, from out of the very heart, which would seethe so and quiver and flutter so much like a living thing, as an aptly uttered Russian word!

I learned my Russian (I flatter myself that I know it rather well) from my mum. She wasn’t a language teacher: she taught PE, art and technical drawing at school. Although her mother tongue was Ukrainian, she spoke it rarely and did not attempt to teach us any. I remember just a few of Ukrainian sayings [1], and she would mark those as such, often introducing them with «как говорил/а …» (“as … said”) [2]. Her written Russian was impeccable (I don’t recall a single spelling or grammatical mistake in her letters, no corrections either, but clearly I am not objective here), while her spoken language was simple and sophisticated at the same time. And she always found a perfect time and place for that aptly uttered Russian word.

The sources of those words were too many, ranging from colloquialisms, folk songs and proverbs to Krylov, Pushkin, Gogol to modern authors, like Vysotsky and Zhvanetsky.

Sometimes she deliberately used a patently non-standard [3] or “illiterate” word, typically borrowed from her students (e.g. чумадан instead of чемодан).

Here is a list of some words and expressions of велимог [4] I heard from my mum a lot. It’s very incomplete but, as she used to say, хорошего понемножку.

__________________________________________________

  1. Here they are, all four of them.
    1. Їж, поки рот свіж.
    2. Коли як, коли як (коли збуваються, коли ні).
    3. На тобі, Боже, що мені негоже.
    4. Що ваші роблять? — Пообідали та й хліб жують!
  2. She would always give the due credit for Russian sayings too.
  3. For example, back-formed words, such as одуванодуванчик, пёхомпешком, толкачи ← толкачики.
  4. Short for «великий, могучий, правдивый и свободный русский язык», “great, mighty, true and free Russian language” (after Turgenev).
  5. The word фазенда (fazenda) became popular in the USSR after the Brazilian soap opera Escrava Isaura.

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