Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Words and Phrases that Defined Russia in 2018

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 1 – A country is defined at any point of time by the words and phrases, new or newly prominent, that its people use far more than they have in the past. Russia is no exception, and over the past year, the people of that country used a number of words and phrases they had not done so as much in the past and that say a lot about them and their land.

            The editors of the Sobkorr portal have compiled a list of old words newly prominent, new words, and phrases that Russians employed in 2018 and that at least some of them will associate with that year in the future. As such, they merit attention by all who are seeking to understand where Russians and Russia now are (sobkorr.org/infopovod/5C29E3F2E205C.html).

                Some of the following have self-evident meaning; others require some specific definition or at least context. Among the words of 2018 are:

Salisbury – an English city where on March 4 former GRU agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned.

Protest with No Defined End – a reference to protests in which several people continue to protest after the official endpoint is passed.

Novichok – the nerve agent that was used against Skripal and his daughter.

Harassment and Hare, a reference to a deputy who attempted quite unsuccessfully to escape charges of harassment.


Telegram – a kind of online messenger that has gained in popularity ever since Roskomnadzor tried to ban it.

Mundial – the word used for the world football championship

Pension – an old word that took on new meaning when Putin raised the pension age.

Repost – a normal Internet term that has acquired special meaning in Russia because people may be subject to legal sanctions for doing.

Among the phrases of the last year are:

“To live to get one’s pension” – a phrase that became widely used when Russians discovered that a large percentage of them won’t live to the new older pension ages and so won’t ever collect pensions.

“The Salisbury spire” – a phrase that took on new meaning when those accused of poisoning the Skripals said they had only gone to that English city to see the cathedral.

“Macaroni always costs the same” – a phrase that went viral after Saratov minister Natalya Sokolova suggests Russians could get by on 3500 rubles (50 US dollars) a month if they were careful.

“The government didn’t ask you to give birth” – words that were uttered by Urals official Olga Glatskikh and that have become an emblem of the Putin regime’s indifference to the state in which Russians are living.

“The not unknown Kant” – an expression which caught on after a Russian admiral dismissed the German philosopher as someone who had written some books no one understands and which sailors “do not read and never will read.”

“Naming something for someone who is still alive is a bad idea” – the explanation for Moscow’s decision to allow airports to be renamed only for those long dead.

“The concert has been cancelled” – a phrase that also went viral after the authorities cancelled several concerts by popular musicians.

“You want things to be like in Paris” – Vladimir Putin’s query about those who oppose his more repressive moves, the only thing he suggests that stands between Russians and the chaos of the Parisian streets.

“We will be in paradise, but they will simply be incinerated” – another Putin phrase on what will happen to Russians, on the one hand, and everyone else, on the other, in the event of a nuclear war.

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