by Don  

Y'know, you just never stop learning when you study a foreign language, and last month for the first time I encountered the word псина. The primary meaning of the word is dog meat:

В 1984-ом году в Корее запретили продажу псины. The sale of dog meat was prohibited in Korea in 1984.
В Вьетнаме суп варят из псины. In Vietnam they make soup out of dog meat.

The word is also commonly used to just mean dog as well. If you search for псина on youtube.com, you will find all sorts of videos of people and their dogs doing all sorts of odd tricks, like singing to Gwen Stefani tunes.

Псина also means the smell of a dog or of dog fur:

Почему здесь пахнет псиной? Why does it smell like dog fur in here?
Фу, здесь воняет псиной! Ugh, it reeks like a nasty ol' dog here.
Знаешь, я недавно нашёл прекрасные духи, которые пахнут мокрой псиной. Они меня спасли. Раньше девушки ко мне постоянно приставали, а теперь я могу появляться в общественных местах совершенно спокойно. You know, I recently found a marvelous cologne that smells like a wet dog. It has saved me. Women used to hound me constantly, but now I can appear in public in complete peace.

It seems like all words connected with dogs can be used as general terms of abuse, and псина is no exception, and it can be used of either men or women. If used of a man, it can have masculine gender, and if used of a woman, it has feminine gender:

Маша, псина ты некультурная, ты опять обидела клиента! Удивлюсь, если тебя не рассчитают. Mary, you rude idiot, you've offended a client again. I'll be surprised if they don't fire you.
Боря, псина ты идиотский, я сказала, чтобы ты купил два кило сахара и пачку соли, а не два кило соли и пачку сахара! Boris, you complete idiot, I told you to buy four pounds of sugar and a packet of salt, not four pounds of salt and a packet of sugar.

Note: see discussion of the last sample sentence in the comments section.


Comment from: Natalie [Visitor]

Если позволите, небольшая поправка:
в России крайне редко говорят “Суп из псины".
Чаще говорят “Суп из сабочатины".

03/04/10 @ 11:37
Comment from: Tanya [Member]

From a native Russian speaker: it is PERFECTLY fine to say as was b4: “Боря, псина ты идиотский"… some natives love — медoм не корми, — go rounds and rounds arguing abt minuscule details, which in the end can be reputed still by other educated native speakers as possible variations… in the case of antecedent of “псина” it is absolutely possible to say it this way in the colloquial manner (btw, this word is never used in the upper-echelon register of the language, which is always delivered more carefully by comparison with the colloquial one)… it is similar to the case of “надеть” и “одеть": what is not grammatically possible is said anyway, with the agrammatical form taking precedence over grammatical one…

So, as a native speaker, I state this to say “псина ты идиотский", — even though might not be canonically perfect, very likely and possible, and I’ll even say it sometime out loud in the conversation, and if someone’ll go into linguistic discussion abt it, so be it!

04/05/09 @ 20:27
Comment from: Maryaska [Visitor]

Hi! Actually I got to this site by searching “places to windsurf", but anyway :)

In the last sentence there should be “Боря, псина ты идиотская” instead of “Боря, псина ты идиотский", since “идиотская” is a description of “псина", but not Boris.

Don responds: псина (when used as a general term of abuse) is a word that has been shifting in Russian for some time. Previously it was what we call a “common gender noun,” one which takes masculine adjectives when referring to a man, and feminine adjectives when referring to a woman. That use of псина is documented in references like gramota.ru:

ПСИНА² м. и ж. разг.-сниж.

1. Пёс, собака (обычно большие).
2. перен. Тот, кто вызывает негодование, заслуживает презрение своим поведением, поступками. // Употр. как бранное слово (обычно по отношению к мужчине).

There are some native speakers of Russian for whom «псина ты идиотский» sounds fine when dissing a man. Native speakers under, say, forty years of age pretty well all prefer the feminine form even when dissing a man.

04/04/09 @ 03:13

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