January 01, 2016

The Year in Words

The Year in Words

Every year in Russia, academic groups and language lovers look at all the new words and phrases that have appeared in the language over the last 12 months and vote for слово года (word of the year) or слова и выражения года (words and expressions of the year). As I write this, things are just heating up in the virtual voting booths. So it’s a good time to look back at the Russian year in words.

It wasn’t a very happy year, word-wise or reality-wise. January gave us three words that now seem like the utterance of Cassandra describing the year to come: Левиафан (Leviathan, a film that showed the corruption of the Russian system); Шарли (Charlie, from the shooting at Charlie Hebdo); and мусорный рейтинг (junk rating, what the Russian economy got from Standard & Poors). And that’s been pretty much 2015 in a nutshell: corruption, terrorism and economic woes.

February gave us a respite from our troubles with the brilliant годовасик-тугосеря — a phrase apparently coined by a Mom to describe her one-year-old child (годовасик) who had problems with constipation (тугосеря – made from the word туго, tight, and серить, to poop, usually used in reference to animals). Brilliant!

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