January 01, 2013

Goats, Ribs and Suitcases

Goats, Ribs and Suitcases

When two силовики́ (a term used for the heads of government agencies that wield some sort of force) on opposite sides of the ocean lose their jobs almost simultaneously as a result of extramarital affairs (внебра́чные свя́зи), the linguistic columnist cannot but thank Fate for dropping another theme, marital infidelity (супру́жеская неве́рность), into his lap.

True enough, unlike former CIA boss David H. Petraeus, Russia's ex-defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov "showed extremely poor judgment" by engaging both in an adulterous affair," (адюльте́р) and a corruption scheme. But rumors spread quickly through Russian media that the real reason the former furniture salesman lost his job was because he was "walking away from his wife" – гуля́л от жены́, which infuriated his powerful father-in-law and former patron, Viktor Zubkov, ex-Russian prime minister, now chairman of the oil monopoly Gazprom.

When a 50-year-old like Serdyukov (or a 60-something Petraeus) begins to "go to the left" – ходи́ть нале́во (colloquial for изменя́ть жене́ – cheat on one's wife) Russians say with a smirk: седина́ в бо́роду, бес в ребро́ (gray hair in the beard means a devil in the rib). And the обма́нутая жена́ (deceived wife) in this case awards her unfaithful husband (неве́рный муж) with the epithet ста́рый козёл (old goat). Sometimes she decides to avenge herself and to наста́вить рога́ (literally, "endow with horns," meaning to cuckold) her unfaithful spouse, making him a рогоно́сец (cuckold).

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