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Having now studied twelve languages, I can tell you with complete confidence that none has profanity as astonishing as Russian profanity. Seriously. The creativity, eloquence and vile vigor of Russian cussing is simply mind-boggling. English profanity is like baby-talk compared to Russian. The word that names the system of Russian profanity is мат. Notice that there is no soft-sign at the end of the word. Despite the superficial resemblance to the word for mother, you must never use мат around your Russian мать. She will slap your face so fast, you won't know what hit you.
|Не ругайся матом!||Don't cuss!|
|Не поверишь, но сегодня я слышал, как японец ругался чисто русским матом. А я всегда считал японцев такими вежливыми.||You won't believe it, but today I heard a Japanese man swearing like a real Russian. And I had always considered the Japanese so polite.|
|Почему на университетских занятиях не преподают мат?||Why don't they teach profanity in university classes?|
|Андрюха полнейшая свинья. Без мата не может выражаться.||Andrew is a complete pig. He can't open his mouth without cussing.|
In the US you can often hear English curse words in casual conversations on the street. In Russia there is still a wide gap between people who regularly use мат and people who don't. Those who use it, use it like crazy. Most everybody else hardly ever uses it. Not too surprisingly, factory workers and peasants are more likely to use it than highly educated folks. I was much amused to read about an ice cream factory in Barnaul where the management got so tired of the workers' vulgarity that they issued an official dictionary to help the workers translate their normal curse-laden expressions into polite literary Russian. I can tell, dear reader, that you are consumed with curiosity about this dictionary, so a bit of it is reproduced below.
Warning! The material below contains offensive Russian and English profanity!
If you click the picture, it will take you to an image that adds rough English equivalents (not word-for-word translations).
- Ты, знаешь, наш Моня - пидарас!
- Он, что, тебе денег должен?
- Да, нет, я - в хорошем смысле!*
*прим. это оксюморон, разумеется
Don responds:The ё is the first letter of a form of the Russian “‘f’ word”, so the phrase is a euphemism. It's kind of like saying, “Oh, fudge!”