by Tatiana  

Some say that pigs make great house pets. They call them charming and intelligent with expressive personalities. However, for most of us pig pets are too exotic. I mean, would you like to be awakened by loud grunting noises?

In Russian a pig is свинья. It is a word of feminine gender; in conversational Russian свин can mean a male pig, but when people talk about pigs they usually just use the feminine form:.

Preсвинье свиньях

Russian pigs don't go “oink-oink”; they go хрю-хрю, which, in my opinion, makes sense; it reminds me of grunting sounds.

Figuratively both свинья and свин can be used to describe a messy person, while свинарник, “pigpen” could describe the filthiness of their home.

Он такой неряшливый, просто свин! He is so messy, a common pig!
Ты была у Маши дома? Такой свинарник! Have you been to Masha's? What a pigpen!

Also, it serves as an insult following one’s shabby act. In that case this person’s actions can be called свинство “swinishness” or “rudeness.”

— Петя, какая же ты всё-таки свинья! Зачем ты моей тёте сказал, что ей надо меньше есть?
— И это я свинья? Ты её вообще видела? Ей только пятачка не хватает!
“Petya, you are such a pig! Why did you tell my aunt that she needs to eat less?”
“You are calling me a pig? Have you ever seen her? All she's missing is a snout!”
— Как он мог со мной так поступить на глазах у всех его друзей?
— Да, это свинство с его стороны, конечно!
“How could he do this to me in front of all of his friends?”
“Yes, of course, that was really rude of him.”

We have a rather well used expression, свинью подложить, which means to intentionally cause trouble or play a dirty trick on them.

Я никогда ей этого не прощу! Подруга называется - такую свинью подложила! I will never forgive her! She calls herself a friend and then plays such a dirty trick on me!

There is a theory that this expression comes historically from the ban on eating pork, свинина in Judaism and Islam. You can imagine someone, intentionally slipping a religious Muslim some pork in order to get them in trouble or cause mischief (source).

In Russian the mumps also have something to do with pigs: we call it свинка. The name comes from the look of one’s swollen cheeks when the salivary glands get inflamed. Incidentally, свинка is the diminutive form for свинья.

— Ты не видел Катю?
— Нет, она дома. Она свинкой болеет.
“Did you see Katya?”
“No, she's at home. She's got the mumps.”

Another use of the word свинья is piggy bank, свинья-копилка. I found a really cute cartoon from the 1960’s that was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, Свинья-копилка, “The Piggy Bank”.


Comment from: Erica Resmer [Visitor]

I loved that cartoon!! It made me laugh out loud :) I thought it was very fitting that the little piglet was the “bad guy” in the cartoon according to the sayings that were given in the entry. I liked his little gruff voice and nefarious ways lol! I will definitely watch more of this cartoon :)

04/14/10 @ 22:36
Comment from: Timo [Visitor]

This reminds me of the word for lead Свинец. Lead was used to debase coinage metals, like silver. Strictly not Kosher!
Perhaps the Russians were calling lead a pig? Folk etymology, I know…

04/13/10 @ 07:16

Form is loading...