by Natasha  

The Russian word мусор is a noun that means ‘trash.’ It is a first declension noun. It is never used in the plural.


Here are some examples:

Вынеси мусор, пожалуйста. Take out the trash please.
В мусорном ящике нет мусора. There's no trash in the trash can.
Брось скорлупу в мусор. Throw the eggshells in the trash.

Russia, like many countries, disposes of their nation's trash by means of landfills. Being that Russia makes up 1/8 of the Earth's landmass they should have no problem finding places to dispose of trash, at least that's what many people in the government and waste management industry believed. That notion came to a screeching halt once a lot of the landfills started filling up. The fact that most of these full landfills are located on the outskirts of cities and towns raised the stakes even higher. It has posed a lot of problems to both the infrastructure and the nearby residents. As the amount of trash increases, the air and soil quality surrounding the landfill decreases. This makes for very unhealthy and stinky conditions. Nobody wants to step outside their house on their way to work just to be greeted by a big whiff of last year's dinner. I'll pass on those leftovers, thank you very much. The waste management industry is working with the government to find an reasonable solution. It's a work in progress, but until it gets resolved, plug your nose.

Interestingly enough, the word «мусор» is also used as a derogatory name for policemen in Russia. It's equivalent to calling a police officer 'pig' in the United States. I do not recommend using this slang within earshot of any law enforcement officer, because it'll probably get you into a pretty nasty situation. When used in this manner the word does have a plural form: «мусора».

Here are some examples:

Не едь по Калинина, там мусора.¹ Don't take Kalinin Street: the pigs are there.
Не превышай скорость по Вишневского, а то мусора оштрафуют. Don't speed on Vishnevsky Street, otherwise the pigs will ticket you.

¹ The word едь is substandard Russian speech, not something that a foreigner should emulate. But if a Russian is going to be rude enough to call the police мусор, then he'll probably allow himself this kind of grammatical irregularity as well, so I think we'll keep the example as it stands.


Comment from: David Taylor [Visitor]  

In Moscow I heard the word «мильтон» used for ‘cop’ or ‘fuz’ and they could fine you on the spot for using it. Is this still the case?

Don responds: Oof, I have no idea. Perhaps one of our readers from Russia could respond?

03/02/14 @ 04:10
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]

Hi Shady_arc,

Those are some great words to apply to TV programs! Они - слова, которые я не знал! Спасибо!

Может быть слово хлам могло использоваться в этом контексте?

It’s amazing how many different ways human beings can talk trash! ;-)

02/28/14 @ 15:22
Comment from: Shady_arc [Visitor]

“мусорный ящик” is not a common expression in Russian, just like “trash box"/ “garbage crate". Letterbox for trash comes to mind :).

A real term is “мусорное ведро” (at home) or “урна” (on the streets: often next to benches or building entrances).

As for garbage on TV, I would use “бред", “шлак", “чушь", “всякую гадость” and so on, depending on the meaning implied.

02/28/14 @ 02:18
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]

Hi Don,

Thanks for your response.

Re the use of мусор, I was just curious about how the word is used in the purely figurative sense. I chose TV as an example because it’s so annoying; I can only hope that Russian TV shows are of better quality than what we have here! LOL

Thanks for the links about едь. From what I read, it seems that the consensus of opinion is that it’s a vulgarism which should be avoided by educated people. I guess Natasha stated it best when she called it substandard Russian.

02/24/14 @ 21:13
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]

An interesting post, Natasha!

A couple of questions come to mind:

1.) Could “мусор” be used in a broader figurative sense, i.e., apart from referring to the local constabulary?
In Canada we often say that something we don’t like is “garbage". For example: “There’s nothing but garbage on TV!”
На русском языке, может быт: “Есть только мусор по телевидению!” Is that a correct usage of “мусор"?

2.) You mentioned that “едь” is substandard Russian. Is “едь” simply incorrect grammatically or is it slang? If it is slang is it considered profane in any way? Is it used by a certain age group or social group? Sorry for all the questions, I’m just curious.

Don responds: Hi, Richard. This is Don, responding for Natasha.

  1. Although it would be perfectly grammatical in Russian to say that someone is watching garbage on TV, it is not a common thing to say. If you google the phrase “мусор по телевидению” (with quotes), you will find very few hits. Compare that with the results for the corresponding English phrase.
  2. «Едь» is non-literary, uneducated Russian, not slang and not profane. Absolutely everyone understands it immediately when they hear it. If you know your imperative formation rules very well, then in fact you would predict that едь is the imperative form. But sometimes the expected form in a language is replaced entirely by an unexpected form; then we say that form is suppletive. Thus in English we would expect the past tense of “go” to be be “goed,” but instead we get the suppletive form “went.” In the Russian literary language the verb ехать and all its prefixed derivatives use suppletive variations of езжай for the imperative. Occasionally one will also hear «ехай». The Russians themselves sometimes have questions on this issue. See the discussions on mail.ru and lik-bez.com for a bit of amusement.
02/20/14 @ 12:50

Form is loading...