Category: "Biology"


June 3rd, 2011 — posted by Don

I think my favorite Russian word is слизь, which means mucous. Almost all American students will laugh out loud the first time they hear it, which will doubtless mystify Russian readers, so I should explain that English has a word ‘sleaze’ which means a disgusting and dishonorable person, and there is just something in the word that conjures up images of greasy hair and greasy skin and sports coats reeking of stale cigarette smoke that need to be washed much more often. So the association of revolting slipperiness with sleaze and слизь to an American is immediate and visceral. I just love that.

Of course слизь is a perfectly good scientific word, and grammatically it is a feminine third declension noun which declines like this:


English speakers might be surprised to see a plural of the word since we never say ‘mucouses’ in English, but of course in medical and scientific English the proper plural is mucosa. Let's see... what sentences can we come up with without inducing nausea in the reader...

Некоторые беспозвоночные производят слизь, которая может облегчить передвижение и играть свою роль при коммуникации. (adapted from Wikipedia) Some invertebrates produce mucous that may facilitate movement and play a role in communication.
Что делать, если рыба покрылась вязкой слизью? (source) What should you do if your fish is covered by sticky mucous?
Биологическая роль слизей достаточно значительна. (source) The biological role of mucosa is fairly signficant.
Пектины — это близкие к камедям и слизям углеводные полимеры. (adapted from this source) Pectins are hydrocarbon polymers close[ly related] to resins and mucosa.