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Thread: Tricky Double-Entendres

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    Почтенный гражданин Winifred's Avatar
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    Tricky Double-Entendres

    I liked this article, and wonder if native speakers here agree with the slang translations, and perhaps have more to add?http://www.themoscowtimes.com/storie...08/10/007.html

    Tricky Double-Entendres
    By Michele A. Berdy
    Ящик: box, crate, TV, top-security enterprise

    Learning a foreign language is an embarrassing process. Years ago, when I was still struggling with "real Russian," as opposed to the very correct literary Russian I'd been taught, I visited a married couple and tripped over the doorsill as I entered their apartment. Both of them cried out, ""ише!" I mentally translated this as "Be quiet!" and spent the evening whispering (I thought there was a baby sleeping in the back), while my hosts plied me with hot tea with lemon and honey (they thought I had a sore throat.) Later, when I figured out that тише can also mean "be careful," I felt like an utter fool.

    Getting the hang of slang is a tricky process, although some slang meanings of nouns in Russian are not hard to decipher. Take фрукт (fruit), a bilingual word for a nutcase. Or шкаф -- a large cupboard or wardrobe that is a vivid description of a big guy or a bruiser. Репа (turnip) is a bit harder to envision in its slang meaning of a human head, although I've certainly known people with the IQ of a root vegetable. Зебра (zebra) is a pedestrian crossing, so called because of its white stripes and, I believe, because most Moscow drivers regard pedestrians in the crosswalk in the same way big-game hunters regard live zebras on a safari.


    Slightly more confusing is предбанник, literally the room "before the bath house," which has come to mean any kind of anteroom. If someone says, Мы сидели в предбаннике и ждали депутата, it doesn't mean they were waiting for a meeting with their naked elected official while wrapped in towels and sipping beer, but rather that they waited in the deputy's reception area.

    Even more confusing is ящик (box, crate). It can be used to mean a television: Муж сидит перед ящиком и пьёт пиво. (My husband sits in front of the idiot box and drinks beer.) But it doesn't mean a box or a television in this phrase: Мой отец работал в ящике (literally, "my father worked in a box.") Here, ящик means a secret or high-security enterprise, short for почтовый ящик (mail box).

    But most linguistically dangerous are all the euphemisms and slang words for private body parts. When speaking with men, experience has taught me to pronounce with great caution anything that is longer than it is wide; mentioning everyday objects like шланг (hose) or банан (banana) may cause unintended innuendo.

    Another tricky word is яйца (eggs), what Spanish speakers call cojones, and what English speakers call balls. If you don't know this, you can get into some interesting conversations.

    For example, an American friend related a puzzling experience in the metro to some Russian friends and me. She had been standing in a crowded car; in front of her sat a man holding 10 eggs wrapped in a paper cone (this was in the Soviet period, when there were no egg cartons.) He politely offered her his seat, but she politely replied: Нет-нет. --идите -- ведь у вас яйца. (No, no, please sit. After all, you've got eggs.) The passengers giggled. He insisted, and to show her gratitude, my friend said, 'орошо, я сяду. Но тогда позвольте мне подержать ваши яйца! (Fine, I'll sit down. But at least allow me to hold your eggs!) The passengers were now rolling on the floor with laughter. My friend asked us: Что в этом смешного? (What's so funny about that?), and then continued: Всё-таки москвичи очень милые. Подумаешь -- он подарил мне шоколад просто потому, что я подержала в метро его яйца. (Muscovites are really very nice. Just think -- he gave me a chocolate bar just because I held his eggs in the metro!)

    Now replay this scene in the New York subway with a guy holding a bunch of tennis balls.


    Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
    Correct my Russian, please! Пожалуйста, исправьте мои ошибки!

    Помогите мирy oдним щелчком ! Help the world with one click!
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    Властелин charlestonian's Avatar
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    Wow... I did no know that

    I think Но тогда позвольте мне подержать ваши яйца! means " Let me hold you by your balls."
    Well, I don't know what to say. I want to say thanks to the Academy, to Mama, to Papa and to my dog. I love you all.

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    Тише!/Тихо! - yes, especially when the person stumble over or drop something, or in any situation, where the quick reflexes are needed. Sometimes Осторожнее!/Осторожно! is more appropriate ("Осторожно, здесь грязно. Не садитесь, а то испачкаетесь").

    Фрукт = nutcase - I don't agree. It's commonly used in the expression "Ну и фрукт!" and actually means "What a sly person!" or smth along these lines. It may be negative or with the hint of admiration. Similar expression is "Ну и жук!" (it was discussed at MR not so long ago).

    шкаф - a vivid description of a big guy - yes

    Репа - a human head - kinda. Most likely you'll hear it in the expression "дать в репу" - hit in the face

    Зебра - a pedestrian crossing - yes, and it's not a slang

    предбанник - anteroom - mmm, yes, though it's rather colloquial

    ящик - a secret or high-security enterprise - maybe. I've never heard this (probably, I don't hav friends who worked in the "boxes")

    When speaking with men ... mentioning everyday objects like шланг (hose) or банан (banana) may cause unintended innuendo. - it depends. If you giggle like crazy or suggestive everything you said may cause an innuendo. It may cause mirth in the company when the coversation already revolves around sex.
    But in everyday conversation with a sane person and said in calm manner it's pretty safe.

    яйца - (man's) balls - yep. It can be funny.
    Here's an old joke:

    Мужчина в набитом битком троллейбусе просит:
    - Товарищи, не толкайтесь! У меня же яйца!
    Ему:
    - У всех яйца!
    - Вы не поняли! У меня куринные.
    - Пропустите инвалида!

    Now "replay this scene in the New York subway with a guy holding a bunch of tennis balls" (c).

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    ящик - a secret or high-security enterprise -
    Yes. it is true. It is more related to soviet times. For security reason ( or they thought that it can improve security..) mail addresses of such enterprises
    read as 'п/я ###' ( почтовый ящик )

    Шланг - colloquial meaning is more like 'lazy, unwilling to work'. Шланговать - to neglect one's job.
    Russian is tough, let’s go shopping!

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    Quote Originally Posted by vox05
    ящик - a secret or high-security enterprise -
    Yes. it is true. It is more related to soviet times. For security reason ( or they thought that it can improve security..) mail addresses of such enterprises
    read as 'п/я ###' ( почтовый ящик )
    You're right. And I'm aware of the fact that secret enterprises were called "boxes" during Soviet times. Still the phrase "Он работал в ящике" sounds slightly weird. Moreover, it's not common nowadays and I really don't think this rare meaning was worth mentioning in such a small article.

    I suspect Berdy didnt talk here from experience, but simply used Ozegov's Dictionary (Толковый словарь русского языка Ожегова).

    Under the word "ящик" we can see exactly these two examples (TV and secret enterprise):
    2. То же, что телевизор (разг., обычно шутл.). Не оттащишь от ящика кого–н. (всё время смотрит телевизор).
    3. То же, что почтовый ящик (во 2 знач.) (разг.). Работает в ящике.


    But you should keep in mind that the dictionary hardly changed since 1949 when the first edition was published. And in about 60 years that have passed the language changed somewhat. A lot of young Russians who don't know detailes of Soviet reality will be as clueless as a foreigner, trying to decipher that phrase.

    PS. But "ящик" as a slang word for TV is still perfectly fine ("Сегодня футбол будут показывать по ящику").

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    Старший оракул
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    "Тише" может означать "медленнее". И "осторожнее", если последнее близко к "медленнее" по смыслу.

    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka
    Репа - a human head - kinda. Most likely you'll hear it in the expression "дать в репу" - hit in the face
    А ещё репу можно чесать.
    Налево пойдёшь - коня потеряешь, направо пойдёшь - сам голову сложишь.
    Прямой путь не предлагать!

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    Завсегдатай kalinka_vinnie's Avatar
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    очень интересно! Конечно, много уже знал. Наступаешь в Россию, первое учишь: яйцо - не яйцо и ты не "кончил" урок!

    Спасибо, громозека, за продолжающее объяснение
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Всё-таки говорили не "он работает в ящике", а "он работает в почтовом ящике". (He works at a mail box). Моя мама работала в почтовом ящике, когда я был маленьким. Долгое время, помню, не мог понять, что это всё-таки за ящик такой
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    About the Тише expression, I have to disagree, this way of talking in the meaning of "be careful", is rare in my opinion, I very very very rarley herd it throughout my life. It sounds wierd, to hear it in that meaning, It usually always means "more quiet", and could be easely misinterpretated.

    May be it's just archaic that's why? like in this expression: Тише едешь, дальше будешь.

    Btw, ящик also can mean "coffin" like "сыграть в ящик" - "To die".
    Не плюй в колодец, пригодится водицы, напиться.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Remyisme
    About the Тише expression, I have to disagree, this way of talking in the meaning of "be careful", is rare in my opinion,
    That's what I wanted to say at first, but after analysing some imaginary situations I have to admit that sometimes "Тише!" pops up in mind instead of "Осторожнее!", probably beacause it's way shorter and easier to say.
    It's not archaic and it's still used (the other day I saw the little kid almost fall flat, stumbling over the branch and his Mom shouted: "Тише! Смотри под ноги!" ).

    So I'd say "Тише!" isn't exactly "Careful!", but more like "Don't be so rush!" (and it definitely has smth in common with the expression "Тише едешь, дальше будешь" as Remyisme has said.
    But "Тихо!" really sounds odd.

    Quote Originally Posted by vox05
    Шланг - colloquial meaning is more like 'lazy, unwilling to work'. Шланговать - to neglect one's job.
    "Шланговать" is quite rare and I've never heard it, though I've seen it a few times on the net. I believe it's newer and shorter version of the much more popular slang expression "прикидываться шлангом":

    "прикидываться шлангом" - to act as a simpleton (generally by imitating ignorance, indifference or innocence) to avoid unwanted chores or responsibility, or any kind of unpleasant task.

    It's funny that the first hit Google gave me was the title of rather serious article on political issues: "В ситуации с Ираном Европа прикидывается "шлангом".
    http://www.kreml.org/interview/115958802

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    Завсегдатай kalinka_vinnie's Avatar
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    When in Russia I head тише many times in situations that require somebody to be more careful. At first I was also confused as to being more quiet, but then it occured to me that it really means "don't rush, be more careful" which I think is the full "translation" of this experssion
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
    I am a notourriouse misspeller. Be easy on me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    When in Russia I head тише many times in situations that require somebody to be more careful. At first I was also confused as to being more quiet, but then it occured to me that it really means "don't rush, be more careful" which I think is the full "translation" of this experssion
    I always say "тихо" in this case, not "тише", or most likely, "тихо, тихо".
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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