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The Russian TongueRSS

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Feeling at home with Russian

by Yulia Ponomareva at 14/11/2012 17:33

Learning Russian can seem hard because of its tricky grammar, but the actual vocabulary should make the job easier for a native English speaker – all because there is a great deal of loanwords borrowed from English that sound exactly like they do in their original language.

With the advent of capitalism and greater exposure to Western culture in the early 1990s, Russians embraced new concepts and notions that simply could not be described in Russian. In a planned economy there was little room if any for маркетинг, франчайзинг or аутсорсинг. These words didn’t take long to put down roots in the Russian language. In the mid-90s, the first departments of marketing (факультет маркетинга) opened at Russia’s leading universities.

A newly adopted word is often used with a variety of prefixes and suffixes to create new grammatical forms. For example, пиар has spawned the verb пропиарить (literally: to PR something), the noun пиарщик or пиар-менеджер, and the adjective/participle распиаренный (literally: PR’ed).

The same could be said about апгрейд (noun) and апгрейдить (verb), продюсер (noun) and продюсировать (transitive verb meaning to be someone’s producer), мониторинг (noun) and мониторить (verb), офис (noun) and офисный (adjective), паркинг (noun) and парковка (parking lot, second syllable stressed), (при-)парковать машину (to park your car, last syllable stressed) or (при-)парковаться (to park), etc.

Many new words do have Russian equivalents but these sound more cumbersome or just less glamorous than their English counterparts. For example, you can use стоянка for парковка, and припарковать машину would then sound as поставить машину на стоянку (literally: to put your car at a parking lot). Instead of охранник/телохранитель (a bodyguard) or охрана (collective noun) you could say секьюрити. Тенденция means about the same as тренд, and шоппинг could be described as поход по магазинам (a tour of the shops).

There is a string of new words related to shopping and the beauty industry, such as бутик, молл, спа-салон, ВИП-услуги (VIP services), etc.

The names of a heap of new professions come with the word менеджер attached. The Russian for manager, управляющий, is hardly ever used these days. There is thus бренд-менеждер, офис-менеджер, HR-менеджер or менеджер по работе с персоналом (literally: manager for working with personnel), менеджер по работе с корпоративными клиентами (manager for working with corporate clients), менеджер по продажам (sales manager), etc.
In the corporate world and in business (again, бизнес is more common than the Russian дело), words that few could pronounce a dozen years ago need no clarification today. These include дресс-код, ресепшн, рекрутинг, ритейл, девелопер, банкинг, мерчендайзинг, and so on. In the media and entertainment sector, блокбастер, билборд, диджей, сиквел, приквел and продакшн have become part of everyday life.

Again, some of the words do have Russian equivalents, but these are used increasingly less often. Still, it’s okay to say подбор актёров (literally: selection of actors) instead of кастинг, продвижение instead of промоушен, and содержание instead of контент.

Many new words have appeared in the IT industry. There is no Russian equivalent for компьютер (there was, though, ЭВМ or электронно-вычислительная машина, electronic computing machine, in the late 1980s, but this word is considered awkward and redundant now), Интернет, интернет-провайдер, блог, интерфейс, хостинг or трафик are also easily recognizable additions from English. At the same time, юзер is used alongside the Russian пользователь (first syllable stressed).

In politics, popular neologisms include истеблишмент, эксит-полл and месседж. In Russian, these could be rendered as правящие круги (literally: ruling circles), опрос на выходе с избирательного участка (survey at the exit of a polling station), and послание, respectively, but more often than not, the Anglicism is used in this case.

Finally, you can’t go a full day without encountering some form of an English interjection, such as о'кей, вау, упс, имхо, or even пардон май френч (for when you really get frustrated).

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #74"
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